Now I'll never get to photograph Sycamore Gap, but others are hurting more

The Remnants Of An Aurora Over Sycamore Gap, Hadrian's Wall, UK
Stacked image of the Aurora Borealis as Sycamore Gap, 2016, show with a Nikon D5500 with an 18-300mm superzoom. (Image credit: Robin Purser / Getty Images)

Of all the lone trees in the UK, the one at Sycamore Gap was arguably the most famous. It was situated almost smack bang in the middle of Hadrian’s wall and was featured in the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The one-of-a-kind beauty spot’s photogenic nature and Dark Sky location made it a favourite among landscape photographers and astrophotographers, but it was also sought out by thousands of hikers, daytrippers, historians and local residents year upon year. It was a bastion of rural England and a symbol of the Northumberland National Park. It was even named English Tree of the Year by the Woodland Trust in 2016. And now it’s gone…  

The felled tree was found on September 28 and at the time of writing a police investigation is ongoing. Reuters quoted the police in calling it a "deliberate act of vandalism," but the damage has already been done. You cannot simply replace a three-century-old tree and although the prospect of the stump providing new shoots has provided some solace, this is by no means a certainty. Even if the old tree does regrow, how can it measure up to the majesty of what was? After all, it was a textbook specimen – a tree from childhood picture books – the muse of millions of photographers and a movie star.

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Mike Harris
Technique Editor

Mike is Deputy Editor for N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, and brings with him over 10 years experience writing both freelance and for some of the biggest specialist publications. Prior to joining N-Photo Mike was the production editor for the content marketing team of Wex Photo Video, the UK’s largest online specialist photographic retailer, where he sharpened his skills in both the stills and videography spheres.  


While he’s an avid motorsport photographer, his skills extend to every genre of photography – making him one of Digital Camera World’s top tutors for techniques on cameras, lenses, tripods, filters and other imaging equipment, as well as sharing his expertise on shooting everything from portraits and landscapes to abstracts and architecture to wildlife and, yes, fast things going around race tracks.