Benthall parkland and meadow walk
This is a short walk, taking you through the parkland immediately in front of the Hall and through our wild area where you can see extensive displays of wild orchids from late May to July. Originally three separate fields, these were merged five years ago and the National Trust adopted a management approach of minimal human intervention, using low-level grazing by sheep and traditional longhorn cattle. In this time, diversity of both flora and fauna has significantly increased with more than 50 plant species and 15 tree species identified plus many grass varieties. More frequent sightings of predators such as grass snakes and kestrels indicate a corresponding increase in the amphibian and small mammal populations. All of this area, and the fields beyond, were open cast coal mines, restored to agricultural use in the early 1960s. Now only the central portion is being maintained as such, as a traditional wildflower meadow, with the areas to either side left to nature. Follow the orange waymarker arrows along the whole route.
There are cattle and sheep grazing parts of the route, so please keep dogs under close control around livestock.
Benthall Hall car park
From the car park, head through the gate immediately opposite and continue straight down the track. From late spring to autumn, a wander path is cut taking you closer to the Hall, across what was the Hall tennis court and through an old orchard.
At the top of the avenue of chestnut trees turn right and proceed down the chestnut avenue and through the pedestrian gate just beyond the end.
Turn left and follow the path that runs roughly parallel to the fence. This is the start of our wild area. Shortly before you reach the end of this stretch, you will pass under a set of low level power lines. This is where the orchid path will start during orchid flowering season. Otherwise follow the path round through the trees until you come to a stile.
Orchids in the meadow
From late May to the end of July, a narrow path is cut for visitors to follow that will show off some of the best areas of orchids. The orchids are mostly common spotted and northern marsh orchids, with many hybrids of the two, and occasional butterfly orchids. The path loops round through the grazed areas and links back to the red route via a public footpath.
Do not cross the stile, but turn right and continue through the willow copse until you emerge into the meadow area.
Follow the marked path along the field edge, passing beneath a couple of solitary horse chestnuts and close to the Moon Pool where rare water violets can be seen flowering in May and June
Go through a couple of wooden pedestrian gates enclosing a small copse next to the lane, emerging again into the park, and proceed up the field edge enjoying some of the best views of the Hall and Church to finish the walk.
Benthall Hall car park
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