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The 'nearly home' trees: Lifton's legendary landmark

The 'coming home' trees sit slap bang in the middle of a field. Credit: ITV News West Country

Sitting just above the A30, squarely in the middle of a field, is a copse of trees legendary to those living in the West Country.

The 100 beech trees, just scraping the Cornish border, are commonly known as the "nearly home" trees.

Over their years standing as a familiar landmark they have been painted, photographed, and theorised over.

Here's ITV West Country's attempt to find out the true story behind their existence.

They have a few different names to those living nearby, variations on the "coming home" trees by far the most popular.

They're also known as "the trees on the top of the hill," "nearly home trees," and "the Cornish man's welcome home".

The official name though is Cookworthy Knapp.

The famous Cookworthy Knapp has inspired artists for generations. Credit: ITV News West Country

So just how did they come to be sitting in the middle of a field near the village of Lifton.

One theory is that the copse is the product of one original tree which has produced to now naturally form a circle.

Another is a more historical take, the trees where perhaps planted in a circle as saplings to then grow and act as an animal enclosure.

It's thought the trees were planted around 1910. Credit: ITV News West Country

The people who may have the best idea of how the trees came to be there are the Maynard family.

They bought the clump of trees and the surrounding land in the 1970s, the land is now farmed but the trees remain standing tall.

These trees were planted by the Lifton Park estate and they were planted as game cover. They were originally planted with beech in the middle and then they were surrounded by fir trees and then with laurel in the understory. But all that remains is the circle of beech trees.

– Jo Maynard, Family owns trees

The Maynards estimate the trees were planted in around 1910 making them over 100 years old.

Local artist Katie Stoneman has been inspired by the trees from her home in Lifton. Credit: ITV News West Country

Whatever their origins, the trees have been a source of inspiration for many living and commuting around the West Country every day.

Katie Stoneman lives in nearby Lifton, she says the trees are "stand out" and often feature in her paintings.

For me I love where I live. I love the West Country and I very rarely put any houses or people in anything I paint because I just think we're so lucky to live somewhere so beautiful and these trees are just standout. They're glorious.

– Katie Stoneman, Landscape artist

Let us know your favourite memories of the "coming home" trees: contact us here.