Every December the world stops. For weeks now the light has been fading,every day shorter than the one before, the cold and the dark becoming all encompassing. And then for a few days in December time stands still. The sun stops its retreat and holds its position in the sky…

And the year turns. Minute by minute the days begin to stretch out again. There are many natural traditions associated with this seasonal miracle and the yew tree is one of the most potent, its long life – some are known to be thousands of years old – and ability to regenerate means it is associated with longevity and rebirth. The original Yule log was a piece of yew, set on the hearth and burned for 12 days, its bright flames encouraging the sun to return.

Yew tree in Cumbernauld Glen

The winter solstice is almost on us again and, like every year I’ll go out and search out a yew tree, not to burn or to take home, but simply to admire. It reminds me that we are all linked to our future as well as our past, that life continues on, that in order to appreciate the light days of summer we need the dark days of winter.

Cumbernauld Glen’s semi-natural ancient woodland is a wonderful place to seek out a yew, take a walk through its pathways, and see if you can spot one of these beautiful old trees. They were here before you were born, and will be here for lifetimes to come.

Paul Barclay, Community Networks Officer 

Paul Barclay