Holm oaks, Marine Walk
These three stout trees are rooted alongside Marine Walk and lean over the shore of the Conwy estuary. A fourth example grows nearby, in the bank above Marine Walk. They are holm oaks, also known as Mediterranean oaks. The species is native to southern Europe and was introduced to Britain in the late 16th century.
The photo (right) is dated August 1898 and shows that the trees were well established at the time – and already leaning! The sailing ship appears to be named Dora.
Holm oak is native to southern Europe and was introduced to Britain in the late 16th century. Unlike native British oaks, this species is evergreen. The younger leaves lower down are spiky like a holly leaf, while the older leaves higher up are rounded with a felted pale underside.
Its Latin name is Quercus ilex – holly oak. The bark of a holm oak tree is very different to the sessile and English oak, notice how the bark splits into small squares. It thrives in the mild climate of coastal areas such as Conwy, and tolerates salty spray from seawater.
Higher up the wooded slope to the west of Marine Walk in this vicinity is Bodlondeb house, built for the wealthy Wood family in 1877. Appropriately enough, considering their family name, they were interested in trees and planted much of Bodlondeb Woods, now a Local Nature Reserve managed by Conwy County Borough Council. They also created Marine Walk as an amenity for the local public and visitors. Marine Walk, a section of the Wales Coast Path, starts just outside Conwy’s medieval town walls and runs halfway to Conwy Marina. There is direct access to Bodlondeb Woods at the northern end of Marine Walk