Last Updated on June 2, 2022 by Sophie Nadeau
When travelling through the rolling hills of Wiltshire, there’s no shortage of lush green forests and heavily wooded areas. Some of the trees located in these forested parts of the countryside are particularly special, including that of the Big Belly Oak in the Savernake Forest. Here’s how to visit the tree, as well as what to know before you go.
Please note that the Big Belly Oak is sometimes referred to as the Big Bellied Oak. The tree possibly dates all the way back to around 1100 years ago, meaning that it took root around the time of William the Conqueror in 1066.
Thanks to its age of over a millennia (the estimate is between 800 years and 1100 years old), the Big Belly Oak is easily the oldest tree still standing in the Savernake Forest. The tree actually has a large cavity in the middle.
This was caused when the tree was pollarded, meaning that it was cut two-thirds up its trunk. New branches grew from this cut, and the boughs either side of the centre became too heavy for the central piece, thus leading to a cavity in the middle.
The Big Bellied Oak has the largest cavity of any pollarded tree in the Savernake Forest. As part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, the tree was named as one of the Fifty Great British trees.
How to visit the Big Belly Oak
The tree is actually located on the roadside on the A346 between Marlborough and Burbage. Please note that this road is incredibly fast moving and busy, and so great care should be taken when visiting the tree, particularly if you’re travelling with young children or pets.
When approaching the tree from Marlborough, the tree is on the left-hand side of the road. There is a small lay by on the left-hand side of the road around 50 metres further down the road where you can park up before walking back to the tree to take photos.
Be sure to bring a camera as the tree is not only incredibly majestic but also makes for a great photo spot as you can actually sit inside the tree itself! Savernake Forest itself covers the ground of approximately 4,500 acres and is particularly well-known for its amazing oak trees.
Other trees of note in the area include New Queen Oak, Queen Oak, Saddle Oak 1, and Spider Oak. Towns to visit and attractions nearby include the town of Marlborough and the Pewsey White Horse.