Memory of Sycamore Gap tree to live on thanks to artist Lucy Pitttaway's woodland

Kris Jepson was in North Yorkshire to see how a woodland in memory of the Sycamore Gap tree is taking shape

A popular British artist is helping to plant 600 saplings in a North Yorkshire forest in memory of the felled Sycamore Gap tree in Northumberland.

The iconic tree, which featured in the Hollywood movie, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, was illegally felled in September 2023 and a police investigation continues.

Its destruction shocked people across the globe and as a result, artist Lucy Pittaway painted a picture of the tree under the northern lights.

She said she would plant a tree for each print she sold, and after selling 2,400 prints, she now has a big task ahead of her.

Artist Lucy Pittaway painted an image of the Sycamore Gap tree with a Northern Lights backdrop after it was felled. Credit: Dawn Shaeter/PA

Ms Pittaway told ITV News Tyne Tees: "I couldn’t believe it had happened and didn’t understand why anybody would do that.

"I know that it meant a lot to a lot of people in that area specifically and with the tree now gone, it just seems to have ripped the heart out of such an iconic location."

Based at Brompton-On-Swale, North Yorkshire, and with galleries across the north, Ms Pittaway holds the title of Britain’s most popular published artist.

She has now joined a group of foresters to plant the 600 saplings on the Swinton Estate in North Yorkshire.

It will form part of a trail of trees leading into the forest from a 200-year-old folly, known as Druid's Temple.

She added: "There’ll be a lovely trail laid down and some art installations added as well in the course of time and it will just take shape. It’s a journey. This is just the beginning and there’s lots more to see."

Lucy Pittaway has committed planting a tree for each of the 2,400 prints of the Sycamore Gap tree she sold. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Among the 600 saplings planted in April will be sycamore, oak, rowan, hazel, and other native trees.

The trail will also help regenerate the forest, which has been hit hard by an outbreak of Larch Blight disease.

Head forester on the estate, Brian Lofthouse, has worked there for 38 years and said he has never seen such devastation from a tree disease.

He said: "It’s been really devastating. Certain areas we’ve had to completely fell and just start again really.

"There are still some larch left on Swinton Estate, but it’s slowly spreading across. The only way is to take them out once they’ve got the disease or if they look like they’re starting with it.

"It is a real shame - it’s a shame to see them die, just when they're getting to be good trees, 40, 50-year-old, and real nice trees and then they have to come out, just before they get to that prime timber."

Last month, the National Trust said seeds and buds rescued from Sycamore Gap tree are “springing into life” at a specialist conservation centre, giving hope the famous tree will live on.

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