The twigs and leaves looked like Beech to me, but not the neat overall shape.
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Another thing is that the trunk in the photo is already becoming fluted as Carpinus does, whereas Beech remain smooth.
... Ian, in my opinion it is not possible to ID a tree from a "distant" photo like this.
Although it is true that some trees have a characteristic shape, they can all be changed by eg pruning, damage, disease, etc.
Always best to take photos of the leaves - check the leaf litter under the tree, you can see in your photos that there are plenty there - and of the buds.
If you'd care to look at the observations that I have put up recently, there are both Beech and Hornbeam, with a few comments that would help with differentiating between them.
*end of lecture!*
How to take close-ups with cheap phone and hand-lens:
Field Guides for Budding Botanists:
...I think you are right, that neat overall shape is far more likely to be Hornbeam than anything else.
Beech tends to spread, and the lower branches tend to sweep down to the ground.
But there might have been a dedicated large-scale topiary fiend in the area, so I'd like to see a close-up of the buds, and possibly the leaf litter, before I would commit to an ID.
... isn't the photograph of the bark sufficient to call it as hornbeam?
Not by me, sir!
I find ID by bark notoriously difficult, and would never commit to an ID based on bark alone.
If you were to have seen the bark of my observation http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/311891 you might have said Willow, possibly?
I envy botanists/arboretists who are experienced enough to ID from bark - I'm just not that good! (yet...)
... in combination with the other information available, such as the leaves being "beech-like" - there's little if anything that I could identify by bark alone; in fact there are few deciduous trees that I can identify in winter.
The point was that the bark distinguishes hornbeam from beech, or confirms an identification of hornbeam made from foliage.
... but I haven't seen the leaves.
Errr, not that I don't believe you Ian, when you describe them as "looked like beech" but without seeing them myself *digs hole*...
Pity you don't live in Oxfordshire, Stewart, I would drag you out on a Tree ID in Winter walk!
Many thanks to you all for your comments. I am totally new to iSpot and am still finding out how to work it. I realise my request was incomplete without pictures of leaves and twigs. I actually brought a leaf and piece of twig home with me but lost them before I got round to photographing them. I'll do better next time
I don't take a "proper" camera out with me, just my phone-camera, and it's hopeless for getting close-ups, which are often needed to see things like leaf margins, bud scale hairiness or otherwise, etc. Not to mention herbaceous plants: you often need really good close-ups to get at the defining features.
So if possible I try to take a couple of "bits" home, where I can get reasonable macro photos.
It's not always possible! But it certainly does help, particularly if it's something I need help to ID.
I look forward to lots and lots more observations from you, Ian!
The shape of the tree is fairly indicative that this is the 'Fastigiata' form of hornbeam. There are of course fastigiate forms of beech but I haven't seen any with quite such a neat appearance.
Lat/Lng: 51.58, -0.14
OS grid ref: TQ289884