A LAKE District tree named the best in Cumbria is in the running to become the top one in England.

The Courageous Tree, on the shores of Coniston Water, was put forward to the competition by Jeff Bond, in memory of his late wife Sue, who championed the tree initially.

The ash tree has a striking appearance due to it being vertically shattered in half by a probable lightning strike.

The tree came top of a poll to find Cumbria’s top 50 trees and has now been shortlisted by the Woodland Trust in its Tree of the Year contest.

Now in its fourth year, tens of thousands of people have already taken part in the conservation charity’s competition which celebrates the UK’s finest trees.

This year for the first time one tree will be chosen from each of the four national winners to represent the UK in the 2018 European Tree of the Year contest.

Expert panels have shortlisted 10 trees in England and six in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for voters to choose from.

The tree gave Sue, who had lung cancer, so much inspiration in life before passing away in January. Jeff is now continuing to represent Sue's nomination as a tribute to his late wife.

He said: “Sue had been a regular visitor and lover of the lakes throughout her life enjoying the environment, walking and sailing on Coniston. Sue introduced me to many things including a tree – The Courageous Tree – and it was an introduction in the true sense since she invited me all those years ago to come and say hello.

“We never once walked that path along the Coniston shore without visiting that tree. Sue would have been overjoyed that the tenacity of that tree has been recognised.”

Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the shortlisted trees are also in with a chance of winning a £1,000 care award. The award can be used to arrange a health check from an arboriculturist, provide interpretation or educational materials or simply hold a celebratory event in honour of the tree.

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust chief executive said: “Once again the public has nominated many fantastic examples of trees with truly inspirational stories, which highlight how intrinsic they can become in peoples’ lives. It’s a reminder of why we need to care for individual trees and that they still need true protection in law from development or mismanagement.”

To vote your favourite visit woodlandtrust.org.uk/treeoftheyear before October 9.