Tall Tales

Veteran oak at Kedleston, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Veteran oak at Kedleston, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

We've already received some fantastic stories...

The Fairy Birch

By Alice Valantine, age 11

The fairy birch stands at the corner of Stanton-in-Peak primary school field. The angelic looking tree is not old, in fact it is quite young and is so white it looks like it was dunked in snow.

The tree got its name because it looks like a dancing fairy.

Some friends liked to visit the tree and play games on or by it. One day they saw some of the bark peeled slightly off. It looked like paper. Suddenly one of them had a great idea. They peeled off some bark and wrote a letter on it. They addressed it to the Fairy of the Birch and it was full of questions. In the morning they came back hoping she had read it. When they got to the tree it was gone! “Yes!” the children said joyfully.

The grown ups said it must have been taken by an animal as nesting material but the children knew it had been taken by the Fairy of the Birch; she just couldn’t reply because she had no hands to write with. If it wasn’t her then why would the tree keep giving them more bark for more letters? Anyway everyone knows adults can’t see anything further than the end of their noses!

Hollow Tree

By Sophie Cooper, age 10

“Are we nearly there yet?”

“I can’t believe it, we are finally here after about two whole hours!” 

They found themselves looking at an old tattered wooden house which, supposedly, was meant to be their home for the week.

The next morning Jake and Dan spotted a forest on the edge of the garden, it was full of life – birds singing and trees swaying in the calm breeze.

“Let’s go and explore,” whispered Jake, trying not to wake anyone.

“I don’t know, it looks a bit… erm…”

“You’re not scared are you?” teased Jake.

“No!” shouted Dan.

“Come on then, what are you waiting for?”

They slowly made their way down the wooden stairs, out the creaky door, on to the stony path towards the forest. When they got there they went straight in. Then, there in front of them was a tree as big as ten skyscrapers put together. Jake slowly looked through a small hole in the tree.

“Look Dan, there’s cooking stuff and furniture. You don’t think someone lives here do you?”

“No, it’s too small.”

They kept looking around till they spotted something moving and making squeaky noises.

“Don’t move,” whispered Dan.

“Look, they are little people, they must be living here,” whispered Jake. “Come on, we can go and tell the adults.”

“No, they wouldn’t believe us and if they did they would capture them.”

“I suppose so,” whispered Jake, still watching the small creatures. “This could be our secret and no one would know except us.”

Owl Saves Buttercup

By Millie Hollis, age 8

One dark night in the wood stood the old gum tree. Inside the gum tree lived a mum called Betty and her daughters called Buttercup and Daisy. Betty had always lived inside the big, smooth bark of the tree.

Buttercup and Daisy went to play in the old oak tree. Buttercup loved to climb the tree but Daisy was not so keen because she was scared of heights. Buttercup climbed the tree very slowly and swung on the long branches. Daisy watched her to make sure she didn’t hurt herself. All of a sudden Buttercup lost her grip and slipped from the branch. She landed in the middle of the tree but she had twisted her ankle and was stuck.

Daisy saw her fall and didn’t know what to do but then she had an idea. She called Oliver the owl and asked him “ Can you get Betty and tell her to bring a wooden ladder?”

Betty came with the ladder and rescued Buttercup. Daisy and Betty helped Buttercup get home and they bandaged her ankle.

Then Betty put the kettle on and made them all a nice cup of tea.

The Silver Tree

By Tim Lueer, age 11

“John, where are you?” A voice whispered through the woods. Silence…

“Buh!” shouted another voice, in a deep, loud volume, as if he was a ghost. It was John, jumping out of a bush trying to scare his little brother Jo.

“You should’ve seen your face!” John laughed.

“It’s not funny! You could’ve given me a heart attack!” Jo replied, scared to death.

“Stop being silly, Jo!” John said, calming Jo down. Jo froze.

“John?” Jo stared in John’s direction but it seemed like he wasn’t staring at him.

“What now little brother?” John asked him, quite annoyed. By now, John noticed that Jo wasn’t staring at him and as he turned around his jaw fell to the ground.

A silver, shining light, brighter than everything he has ever seen in his life.

“What is that, John?” Jo asked, scared and still staring at it.

“I don’t kno…” and before John could finish his sentence, he saw Jo running in the direction of the light source.

“Where are you going?” he shouted. But it didn’t matter how loud he shouted, the shout got to a whisper and after a while it just echoed faintly into the woods. After running a bit, John saw Jo standing in front of the source. He ran to Jo and as he got closer, the tree got bigger and bigger and darker and darker. When he stood right in front of it, it was as tall as a tower and as black as a raven. 

John grabbed Jo’s hand, trying to get him out of his frozen position but it was too late. Before John could blink with his eyelashes, Jo disappeared into the dark tree… A yellow lightening bolt came from the dark-blue sky. It seemed like Jo was gone and John started crying.

“Jo, Jo, Jooooo?” John screamed, while he followed Jo into the tree.

The Missing Model

By Jack Dawson, age 9

As dawn broke, I woke from a deep sleep and went downstairs for breakfast and asked if  I could come out for a breath of air. Mum said I could, but after breakfast.

After breakfast, I got dressed to go outside. As I did I couldn’t see my model of dad on the sycamore tree. I went closer and closer until I was a foot away from the tree. It wasn’t there!

I wondered where it was, it wasn’t on the grass or inside the tree. I started panicking, I burst through the door shouting to mum, “Dad’s model has gone!”

“What shall I do about it?” questioned mum.

I lost my temper with mum and stormed into the garden.

I picked up a stone and threw it at the tree, as I did a squirrel came down. It looked at me and shook its fist. I explained why I threw the stone in his tree. The squirrel looked sorry for me and decided to help me search for it.

The squirrel told me to go behind the tree, that was when I found out the tree was hollow. I was very excited and it was quite a big space. The squirrel told me a sparrow had taken my model. The squirrel got my model from the nest, I was so relieved I ran outside of the tree and put it back in the tree trunk. 

The Ghost of Betty Kenyan

By Louise Etches, age 9

Once there was a girl called Rose and she was going on a walk with her dog, but when she was entering the forest she saw a trail of buttercups and daisies. She followed them, deeper and deeper into the dark spooky forest. When suddenly she came to a stop, there was a great big oak tree.

She let her eyes wander around. Then she saw a door on the tree and walked in! She could hear something but she couldn’t see anything. She felt around and found a candle and lit it. She saw the ghost of Betty Kenyan.

She rubbed her eyes, she thought it was a dream. She went and stood next to her and she said, “Hello, my name is Rose, please don’t hurt me.”

And Betty replied “I don’t want to hurt you, I hurt the people that try and harm my tree.”

She asked why Betty hurt the people who harmed the tree. Betty told her it was because she used to live in the tree, and it held many happy memories for her.

The Magic Tree

By Darcey Dawson, age 10

It was the morning and Lilly was in Mr Brown’s field picking flowers, placing them gently in a basket.

Meanwhile, Mrs Brown was approaching Lilly with a nasty grin on her face. She shouted, “Get off my property!”

Lilly was in such a panic she ran in the wrong direction! “I’m lost,” she screamed. She fell in front of a glistening buttercup. Lilly followed them, finding: some bark, a twig, some grass, and a leaf that were all glistening!

She looked up in front of her and was amazed by the… magic tree! He boomed out at her saying, “I need you.”

“Wwwwwhy?” asked Lilly, sounding scared.

The tree told her that oak trees were dying out and that she needed to pour icy cold water on the leaves of his tree.

As Lilly came to the tree, she remembered the bubbling stream just at the bottom of the hill. Lilly used the basket that she had put the flowers in earlier. She carefully walked back up the hill trying not to spill too much water and then carefully poured it on to the leaves of the tree.

Suddenly the world lit up and Lilly was amazed! The tree told her to go home and not to tell anyone. So she went home and pretended not to know anything about it, then carried on like normal!

 The Traveller

by Tupton Primary School pupils

Standing at the crossroads, the ancient tree stretched towards the heavy dark clouds as they moved silently across the open sky. It was the brink of autumn and there were no signs of life except for the weary old traveller who shuffled slowly along, dragging his pack behind him heading towards the gnarly twisted tree. The traveller, who had been travelling for days, arrived hopefully at the deserted crossroads. The eroded signposts were faded and old and were of no help to the tired thirsty traveller. Exhausted, the traveller collapsed to the ground, resting uncomfortably on the carpet of knotted roots and dry folded leaves.

Days and nights passed. The sky above became dark and grey. Leaves parachuted down to the cold, damp ground that surrounded the huddled shape of the traveller. In the whispering wind, a voice began to speak.

"Awake from slumber o friend of the Earth. Awake, awake!"

As the voice sounded a single golden leaf sailed towards the traveller and rested on his weathered cheek. The golden leaf glittered and glowed and life began to return to the weary old body of the traveller. He stirred.

"Awake from slumber o friend of the Earth! Awake and be set free!" The voice echoed in the void of the empty crossroad.
Hearing the voice, the traveller sat up, opened his eyes and looked around nervously. Where had the voice come from? Was his mind playing tricks on him? How long had he been there on the ground? The voice spoke again.
"Do not fear old friend of the Earth! I have guarded you whilst you have rested and will guide you as you travel onwards. Look up and acknowledge me! I am the Green Man."
The traveller slowly lifted his chin. The unusual sight of the face in the tree was breathtaking and their eyes met. The Green Man's face was visible in the rough bark of the ancient tree. The traveller was amazed but felt strangely calm at the same time.

"I am the Green Man," explained the voice, "and I would like to share my story with you."

It was dusk when the Green Man finished his tale of magic and mystery, taking the traveller from the depths of the Enchanted Forest to the hustle and bustle of the Lost City of Carai where he grew up as a boy. The traveller's face brightened like a rose opening its pure red petals as he listened.

"You have revived my spirit with your stories, Green Man, but I am hungry and thirsty and I need to be on my way," the traveller said calmly.
The Green Man replied. "Do not worry my friend. I will guide you onwards."
With that, the traveller stood up, picked up his pack and set off in the direction that the Green Man had told him. He soon arrived at the next village where he shared his story of the Green Man and how he had saved his life. The Green Man still waits for weary travellers to pass by to this day so that he can share his story again.

This story reminded us of the Thurvaston Stoop, which was used as a waymarker in past times and has a face shape in its trunk, like that of the Green Man. Read about the Thurvaston Stoop in our Great Trees of  Derbyshire archive.