Located at the end of the duck pond are some steps and a wooden gate that leads to the magical Moresk Forest. Thousands of trees have been planted over the past 15 years to help restore the land to its former glory – the ancient forest of Moresk.
Colin Parker bought the land as a fully working farm in 1982. He farmed it intensively for many years until he decided to change course and ‘give something back’. A rigorous tree planting scheme means that trees now cover 178 acres, with about 100 acres open to the public as community woodland. Footpaths lead through the trees and people can enjoy the rich biological diversity that has been restored to the area.
Over 170,000 indigenous trees have been planted so far, making it one of the largest schemes in the south west. Species include oak, ash, holly, beech, sycamore, hawthorn and hazel.
The ancient forest would have been a hive of activity – many people were employed in the woods – coppicing, producing charcoal and smelting. Back in the 4th and 5th centuries, trees of the original forest were used for coppicing, helping to create the charcoal which was then used to smelt tin. As a result, small pieces of tin ore have been found all over the farm, much of it uncovered during the planting.
Tristan & Isolde – Cornish legend
According to some, the ancient Moresk Forest was the setting for the love story of Tristan & Isolde. It is thought King Mark of Cornwall’s castle was located behind the farm near St Clements and he controlled much of the land and the people who worked there. In the story, the fleeing lovers run through the woods and down to the Malpas ferry with Isolde’s husband, King Mark, in hot pursuit.
Transition Truro is restoring an ancient orchard near the woods. Some of the fruit trees date back to the 1920s and the Parc Avalow project aims to complement the existing trees with new planting of old varieties. Apple varieties include Pendragon, Cornish Aromatic, Hocking’s Green and Pig’s Snout.