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Many thanks for coming to the Tall Trees Trail on Exmoor National Park, Dunster Crown Estate.

This trail starts at the foot of this carpark, when you arrive you will be able to read on.

Enjoy, and let me know how you have got on.

Christopher Jelley
Chapter one

Chapter 1

There was a girl who was marked at birth by her mothers tears, she frowned on every day the sun gave her, and all was crooked and wrong in her life. But she had a brother, a twin who was chalk to her cheese and every day the sun gave him was shiny and keen.

When of age she apprenticed to weave cloth in Dunster and he in carpentry, these were strong trades with honour after long hours labour. Her cloth was never good enough in her mind though some would argue that it was the best in the land, and his timber work fit for the bench ends of courtiers. And although they approached the day from different ends their works were coveted far and wide. So much so that Bishops were feuding over who could have her cloth for their altars, and who would have their altars built by the brother.

Now one day he was walking in the forest not far from here, looking for timber to construct the Bishops' latest project. He had heard of some extremely tall trees which might be just the ticket, but at a gate he met a twisted man who would not let him pass without conversation.

Well the carpenter was a gentle fellow and so let the old man talk.

'You seek timber for the Bishops Palace I believe?'
'Why yes' he said rather surprised, for how could the twisted man know, it was a tightly kept secret.
'I know many things, and some are too sad to share, but come walk with me,' and so they made their way along the rough track, and you should do the same.
Chapter two


Pass through the lower gate now which turns right along a rough road and is the simple way to the Tall Trees. The counter will decrease and the next chapter reveal as you walk.
Chapter three

Chapter 2

The twisted man walked with a heavy step as if his feet were made of soil, or his clogs loaded with clay. His voice was scratchy and old and it was difficult for him to talk, so the carpenter listened closely.

'The forest has much timber, and it is for you to manage as decreed by the Bishop, but you should also know that an older tenant has rights here which are still current and true today. These come from a deeper history, and it is on his authority which I come to you.' The brothers eye brows lifted at this, and the old man continued. 'But it is quite possible for you to please both parties without difficulty on your behalf.'

The old man drew a breath at this point and the brother was reminded of the blacksmiths bellows he wheezed so much.

'There are three things which will come to pass, and when they do, you must honour my request.'

The brother nodded gently a little intrigued for what could this stranger know of him.

'Firstly you will find that your sister is with child but have no fear for you can family the son, and he will learn your trade well. Also be kind to her for she has done no wrong and the child will bring prosperity to all, he will be clever with his hands just as you are Mr Carpenter.'

'Secondly you will perchance upon a paper which will cushion the dark nights and hold you fast when all about is in chaos and disruption.'

Well, thought the carpenter, that was a riddle if ever there was one and he could fathom not a jot of it, but the twisted man continued still in his scratchy breathless tone.

'Thirdly when the child is a year old to the day he will become ill, and nothing can be done by conventional means to cure him. No matter what you do he will fade, then you must come to me for help.'

The two men walked slowly as they spoke and followed along this track as you should also.
Chapter four

Chapter 3

The carpenter was not so sure about the old mans talk, but felt he needed to show his appreciation and so asked

'What do you want in return?'

'All I ask is that you leave the tall trees alone in the forest, there are plenty of others to choose whose timber is straight, and free from shakes when cut. But do not touch the tall trees for nothing sweet will come of the action if you do.'

Well there were plenty of other trees to choose in the forest but these were the tallest in the kingdom allegedly and he wanted to see them for himself. He was very impressed as he strolled beneath the canopy before heading home, his mind dizzy with the strange mans words. At last when he arrived at home he found his sister resting which was unusual but one glance at her belly and he knew that she was indeed with child.

He was now dumbfounded to see that the first part of the twisted mans prophecy had come true and so quickly too.

The days passed swiftly and his sister grew wide with the child, there was so much to do in preparation that he forgot all about the prophecy and busied himself with fixing the family cot. They had slept head to toe in it when they were babies, but it did need some repair, so he stripped it, sanded and waxed the timber, then set to freshen the mattress with new feathers. But inside the cover he found a roll of script, and on close inspection it was the deeds for a parcel of land close by.

With this registry they became land owners in their own right, and through this they took rent and found an income beyond their trade. So the wizened man's words were right and the first two parts of the prophecy had come to pass.

The child was born, and was a strong boy who sat early, and fixed bright eyes on every thing he saw, drinking in the world and everything about it.

So engrossed was the carpenter in the new son whom he treated as his own that he forgot all about the twisted man of the tall trees. But then one day for no apparent reason the memory of the prophesy came flooding back and he new that the child would fall ill upon his first birthday.

He kept this to himself and enjoyed every day with the young boy but eventually the inevitable birthday came and the boy fell ill that very night. His skin turned white like glassy mould and he shook with a sickly fever obviously on the very edge of death.

So out the carpenter went to the ancient trees as you should too, and there was the withered man waiting patiently by a rather fine timber carving of a pine cone. Head straight over and onto the Tall Trees Trail Path, this will be plain to see.
Chapter five

Chapter 4

'So you remembered what I told you?' Said the twisted man.

'Yes' said the carpenter 'and the boy has fallen ill on his first birthday, what can be done?'

“Walk up the path for there is a vine that grows this way with unusual berries which may be of use in this situation.' When the carpenter saw the berries he began to help himself and filled his pack whilst the twisted man jabbered on.

'But remember you must never take from any of these trees or cut them down, for if you do all you will make from their timber are coffin lids for you and your family.'

But the carpenter was already gone, away to make the poultice and save the boy.

The child's sickness was cured that night and the withered little man forgotten about amidst the celebrations that followed. The tall trees were preserved rather through chance than design as the boy grew slowly into a man, and mastered the art of carving.

So with their three trades of carpentry, carving and cloth, they made furniture fit for college Deans and Masons meeting houses.

The years passed well for the family, their business grew and more work came than they could manage, so more hands were brought into the house and they had a brace of men and women under their direction, all turning their gifted hands to the family's designs.

The works were celebrated far and wide, and coveted by many until at last the commission of a life time came.

It was to make the throne for the king himself.

Walk on up the valley now following the path of the Tall Trees Trail.
Chapter six

Chapter 5

The carpenter poured over the throne plans for he was too frail to move timber in the work shop these days. His sister still threw the shuttle in the loom but her eyes were not as sharp as they had once been. So the business management fell in greater proportions to the son, and he managed the forest, he divided the tasks amongst the staff, he balanced the wages, so that the mother and brother could focus on the design of the most prestigious furniture the family would ever make.

As the carpenter worked these over and over the son set to sourcing the very best timber, so out into the forest estate he went, just as the carpenter had done all those years before. Deeper he went, day after day, tree after tree across the whole estate until he finally came upon the fabulous grove of tall trees.

He was amazed that he had not seen these magnificent specimens before, nor that his master had not drawn them into commission. But this was for the throne of the king and only the best of the best would do, so selecting one he set his men to it immediately. Knowing that these were just the right dimensions in all respects to get some fine lengths from, there was no need to delay.

But when the first axe blade swung the son fell down to his knees, the second chop and he fell to the ground. The third cut and the carpenter fell from his easel at his workshop miles away, the forth cut and the mother slid from her loom just the same.

Breath was short on all three though they were far apart, in the forest the foreman signaled to down tools for he had seen the son collapse. They carried him in a terrible swoon back to the village, hardly a pulse in his veins, hardly a breath on his lips, to find the mother and carpenter were also taken the same.

Days passed and there was no change, physicians came from across the land, for these were the craftsmen chosen by the king. But to no avail, and as each day passed their skins became paler, their breath shallower, their hearts weaker. All awaited a miracle for without one the inevitable would happen.

But then a gentle knock came to the door, and there stood an old wizened man, his limbs were twisted like sinews of dry ivy branches, and he asked to see the carpenters family.

Walk further along to the end of my tale.
Chapter seven


Many thanks for walking the trail tale, be great to have your feedback to add to the testimonials.


Usually there is a Geocache hidden at the end of my walks, but since this one is not yet published, you may like to add your name to the one hidden under the bridge right next to the tall tree itself.

Many thanks

Chris Jelley

Chapter eight

Chapter 6

When he saw their deathly state he swiftly made a poultice from the berries he carried and applied it in the given manner. But they were so close to death that even with the man's strange fruit the family might slip over and away. The villagers held their breath all night long, but as the rays of a new day shone into the family home, it seemed to shine on their very souls, for the three rose from their slumber to breath deeply once more, and the sickly white pallor slid from their skins to be replaced by a golden glow as if life from the new day had re animated them.

It took time for the three to fully recover and no one really knew what had ailed them so swiftly, but thankfully when their health had returned and the kings commission beckoned once more. Then the son entered the forest once again to find fresh timber, but when he came upon the tall trees for a second time he waited right here for the wizened man to come.

And when at last the ivy man approached, the son thanked him and pledged never to cut these great trees down, but to guard them from felling or injury as best he could for the rest of his years. The ivy man was pleased by this and can sometimes still be seen walking about this place protecting them for he is the true guardian and his master was here long before man brought steel into the forest. Perhaps you will see him, perhaps not, for he is older than most, but as to how old I do not truly know, and if you were to ask him, I believe he would not be able to tell you either.

And as for the Kings throne, well it was made but not from the timbers of these trees, and I believe he was moved to tears at the beauty of the work though never himself got to sit in the chair for there is always turbulence in royal circles.

But that, as they say, is another story all together!

The end
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