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Nestled close to the heart of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park lies the small village of Brig o’ Turk. Famous for its famous visitors: Queen Victoria, Wordsworth, Millais and Ruskin, it’s also well known as the gateway to Glen Finglas, one of Scotland’s largest new native woodland plantings.
However, not many people know the village as home to one of Scotland’s arboricultural curiosities - the Bicycle Tree (also know as the ‘Metal-Eating Tree’ or the ‘Iron Tree’).
This century-old sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) has almost swallowed up what was once an anchor, and a bicycle.
It occupies a spot close to the old smiddy (smithy), and local folklore has it that the village blacksmith was in the habit of propping up or hanging various articles, which were then forgotten about and gradually absorbed by the ‘ironivorous’ tree.
There is a story about a villager conscripted to the Great War who left his bicycle over a branch. Perhaps he never returned, or perhaps on his return he found that the tree had claimed the bicycle as its own. Today all that remains sticking out of the trunk is the handlebars: an unusual testimony to nature’s efforts overcoming Man’s.
Its metal diet seems to have done the tree no harm, and it has certainly outlived the blacksmith, who is buried close by in the little graveyard up the lane. The eponymous local newspaper, The Bicycle Tree, provides another lasting reminder of this strange, metal-devouring sycamore.
Where to see the Bicyle Tree:
On the west side of the Glen Finglas road about 1km (half a mile) north of Brig O' Turk. The village is on the A821, 15km (9 miles) west of Callander, in the Stirling Council area.
Image: copyright Archie Miles