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VISIT | Take Notice of the Oak in the Loop at Ross | Herefordshire

The Oak in the Loop of the River Wye at Ross
The Oak in the Loop of the River Wye at Ross

An Oak of Ross-on-Wye - A Witness to the River Wye

Discover the ancient oak on the meander of Ross-on-Wye

Take in the viewpoint at Ross Prospect up next to the church to see the tree in full panoramical landscape of the River Wye

A witness to the changing nature to the river's history here in South Herefordshire

The Beacon over the horseshoe bend
The Beacon over the horseshoe bend

"...the thought of that old tree witness to the changing fortunes of this town of Ross-on-Wye..."

Description |

It is known by the locals as the Oak in the Loop. Simply because this Oak sits with its more ‘youthful’ compatriot in the meander of the River Wye at Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire. More precisely it sits on the Wilton side of the river in the river meadow where when flood waters rise in Winter and Spring become submerged beneath the expanding flood plain.

Some call it the Domesday Oak. Its contorted limbs buckling under the weight of time. For it seems to be one of those ancient oaks that are scattered across this island of ours, but maybe not as ancient as it seems.

In leisure times of the late nineteenth century, the Archery Club took aim on these grassy plains where patrons of the Royal Hotel on high from the other side of the bank could promenade and take in a glass or two of port or madeira. In true high society, the club was called the Horseshoe of the Wye and membership only came from the elite of local upper classes with a delightful uniform to match – blue, white, horseshoe decoration and white straw hat with a water lily. And then the grassy riverside was called Oak Meadow for the enduring oak of the horseshoe.

It was noted in 1884 that visitors could still see the old oak in the centre of the Oak Meadow from the Prospect but it was then somewhat of a ruin having been burnt during the winter of 1849. But also remarked was the changing concourse of the River Wye from a survey in 1756 by John Green – that the old oak was further from the bank of the river, that it had moved further away from the bank of the river by the 1850s. Thus telling us that the river meander at Ross was becoming closer to the town and further away from the old oak tree. 

It was thus theorised then the tree may have begun life not as a Domesday Oak but rather an oak sapling from the time of King Henry VIII and had started growing not in a meadow but on the bank of the river Wye. Which then may even have flowed past the castle walls of Wilton Castle, now a distant view near Wilton Bridge, which is where the river meander sweeps back again.

The simple truth is that the Oak in the Loop, the Domesday Oak, the Old Oak has seen the changing face not just of Ross itself but also the river Wye. And where once it began life on the edge of the riverbank, it now sits quietly nodding off, sat in the middle of a meadow. Once burnt, broken, flooded but still alive.

Directions and Map |

Find the viewpoint overlooking the bend over the river at the Ross Prospect walking out the back of the church in Ross town.

Longitude: -2.591818

Latitude: 51.915768

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