Croft Castle ancient trees walk
Yarpole, near Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 9PWRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Explore the ancient parkland of Croft Castle - a place of history, tranquillity, sweeping views and veteran trees.
- Bus stop
Start: Entrance folly archway, grid ref: SO447658
Starting from the visitor car park, walk towards the castle and pass through the archway. Follow the tarmac road to the front of the castle. 'A magnificent walk through historic scenery and noble trees, complemented by awe-inspiring vistas,' Eric Dale, volunteer National Trust warden
Walk on to the black wrought iron gate with the church on your left and castle on your right. Pass through the gate and immediately turn left and walk along the mown pathway.
Continue on the mown pathway until you come to a post with a red shield (4). Stop here and ahead of you, slightly to the left (11 oclock position), you will see the quarry oak.
Known as the Quarry Oak, this ancient sessile oak is situated on the edge of the quarry where stone was once used to build parts of Croft Castle. The sessile oak is so-named because its acorns are not carried on stalks (peduncles) but directly on the outer twigs (sessiles). This 1,000-year-old oak started its life long before the first Croft Castle was built, and as such it has seen many historical events. Ancient trees like this are a wonderful habitat and highly valued for their biodiversity, with invertebrate species numbering in their thousands.
Ignore the path to the right which will take you back to the castle, and instead take the left path. Walk onwards to a large field gate and a pedestrian gate. Go through the pedestrian gate and head to the post shield (5), which is about 20 yards (18m) away.
Walk in the same direction, parallel to the line of ancient sweet chestnut trees on your left. Continue for 200 yards (182m) to reach a farm track which crosses from left to right. The line of trees is the start of the triple avenue of sweet chestnuts. At the farm track, turn right and follow it as you pass under an avenue of lime trees. Continue along the track as it bends gently to the right.
You will now come to a metal gate. Climb over the stile, and if you look to your left you will see three visible rows of ancient sweet chestnut trees. There is also a fourth in the woodland.
Admire the wonderfully diverse and architectural, veteran trees of Crofts unique triple chestnut avenue. The story goes that the planting scheme of these 350 to 400-year-old sweet chestnuts, stems from James Croft bringing home salvaged nuts, from a ship wrecked in the Spanish Armada defeat of 1588. After decades of storage they were then planted to resemble the attacking formations of the Spanish ships, commemorating the English victory.
Continue along the track for several hundred yards to another gate and climb over the stile. With farm buildings on your right, proceed to another gate and cross over that stile. After this last gate and stile you will be at a crossing point. Right will take you to the tea-rooms and straight on will take you to the car park. Take the left turn up a farm track. This track will lead you uphill.
Cross over the stile to the left of the gate, and look to your left to see the rows of chestnuts. Care should be taken when leaving the stile as there are exposed roots and large surface stone blocks. These will both become slippery when wet.
Bear left along the fence line and continue along to a kissing gate and farm gate. Continue to a second kissing gate and farm gate.
You will then enter the field of ancient oaks in a parkland setting. Walk diagonally across and up to the top corner of the field, to a metal gate. These 400-year-old oaks, reputedly planted at the same time as the chestnuts, are said to mimic the formation of the small English fighting fleet from the time of the Armada. The aged and gnarled structures of all these trees form one of natures everlasting monuments.
Over the gate, turn sharp right and take the right fork along the field boundary. Continue to a wooden gate and cross over the stile. Walk on, but do not take the next wooden gate 200 yards (182m) ahead, instead, walk slightly right around two seats.
Sit to admire the view.
Enjoy inspirational views of the Welsh Marches landscape as you explore Crofts parkland. Rest on the benches and admire the panoramic views of four counties and the beautiful Welsh Black Mountains.
Continue your walk to the large fallen trunk 10 yards (9m) to your left when sitting down) and then through the trees to a wooden gate, which is slightly hidden. Follow the path with a steep valley on your left.
The path bends round to the right following the field boundary. Continue on to a wooden gate, where you will emerge into the field above the car park. Walk across to an ancient large oak. From here you can make your way to the car park and tea-rooms.
End: Entrance folly archway, grid ref: SO447658
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 3.5 miles (5.5km)
- Time: 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours
- OS Map: Explorer 203, Landranger 137, 148, 149
Fairly easy terrain, with slight inclines and descents, following grass footpaths and farm tracks. Dogs must be kept on leads at all times as livestock graze in the area. Please note: part of the walk can only be accessed when the property is open.
- How to get here:
By bus: Lugg Valley 492, Ludlow to Hereford, alight at Gorbett Bank 2.25 miles (3.6km)
By train: Leominster 7 miles (11.2km)
By car: 5 miles (8km) north-west of Leominster, 9 miles (14.4km) south-west of Ludlow; approach from B4362, turning north at Cock Gate between Bircher and Mortimers Cross: sign-posted from Ludlow to Leominster road (A49) and from the A4110 at Mortimers Cross. SatNav: HR6 0BL
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