Find space to explore on the Chirk estate

Take a walk on one of our trails around the fascinating 480 acre parkland, and discover a working landscape full of ancient trees, wildflowers, birds and insects.

Estate History

There has been a hunting forest here as long as there has been a castle, including a vast medieval deer park. At its height in the seventeenth century the estate was a sprawling 10,000 acres, and was gradually landscaped by successive members of the Myddelton family, culminating with William Emes grand scheme in 1764.
 
Emes created sunken ditchs, or 'ha-has', to stop the 500-strong deer herd from entering the formal gardens without needing to use fences which would obstruct the view. He also planted vast lawns and thousands of broad-leaved trees. In 1767 Emes closed all the roads crossing the parkland, including an ancient drovers' path which added 11 miles to the journey of local farmers herding cattle to Wrexham!
 
Today the woodland is 70% oak trees, including some amazing and unique veteran trees many hundreds of years old. We're part of the Veteran Tree Initiative, helping to conserve veteran trees. Part of this is a 25 year tree planting scheme based on William Emes’s designs, where 1500 trees will be planted, replacing those trees which have been lost.  The estate is also located within the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
 
The parkland today is managed by a team of just three National Trust Rangers, and a dedicated group of volunteers, who not only maintain the fences and landscape, plant and manage the trees, and protect the wildlife, but they also work with schools and local community groups to share their knowledge.
The unique Davies Gates at Chirk Castle were made in 1712 for Sir Richard Myddelton
The beautiful wrought iron Davies Gates at Chirk Castle

What is there to see?

Offa's Dyke

Bisecting the estate is a section of the remarkable 8th century defensive earthwork Offa's Dyke, built by King Offa of Mercia to mark the ancient border with the kingdom of Powys. When you drive into the car park at Chirk you will cross Offa's Dyke, although you may not notice - William Emes levelled vast sections of it as part of his uncompromising work on the parkland. A fantastic section of the dyke still exists in the medieval deer park, which is accessible from March to September along a permissive path.

Time Trails

A series of estate walks cross the estate, allowing keen walkers to explore both our landscape and history. Either take a trail map from the Ticket Office, or follow the trail boards and trail markers along the different trails.

The Davies Gates

These fantastic Baroque gates, usually the first thing any visitor to Chirk Castle will see, were comissioned by Sir Richard Myddelton in 1712, and made by two local blacksmiths, Robert and John Davies using iron from the Myddelton forge at Pont-y-blew. The gates originally stood near the north face of the castle, but William Emes moved them in 1770 to the current visitor entrance, and they were move again in 1888 to their current location when the railway arrived.

 

" The ancient trees across the estate provide a rich habitat for many species and it's vital we look after them so that they're around for years to come."
- Carl Green, Head Ranger

Estate wildlife

The Chirk estate is rich in biodiversity, as recognised with the designation of the SSSI in 2011. There are over 650 veteran trees on the estate, many dating back to the planting scheme of William Emes. The natural features of many veteran trees mean that they are ecosystems in their own right. They support species of lichens, liverworts and mosses, provide roosting and breeding sites for bat species, as well as nest sites for bird species, including Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
 
The standing and fallen deadwood provides habitat for species of fungi and saproxylic invertebrates. On the estate over 200 species of these invertebrates have been recorded including 20 Red Data Book species and 97 Nationally Scarce species. These invertebrates, in turn, provide a vital food source for many species of bird and small mammal.
 
Seven different bat species have been recorded on the estate, with the most notable species being the rare, Lesser horseshoe bat. The estate woodlands and close proximity to the River Ceiriog provides the perfect habitat for foraging for insects, while the roof spaces in the castle buildings act as an important site for summer roosts. The most recent survey has shown that this population is steadily increasing.
 
The front park on the estate is a very important site for the populations of grassland fungi, with a total of 32 different species having been recorded. This group of fungi is comprised of species of Pinkgills, Fairy Clubs, Earth Tongues, and the brightly coloured Waxcaps, of which 15 different species have been recorded.  
 
The estate is a great place to see a range of bird species all year round. The bird hide along the woodland walk is a good spot to sit and observe many of the woodland bird species. Spring brings a large number of migrant species, with Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Pied Flycatcher and Redstart all breeding within the woodlands. On the parkland, Buzzards are a common sight and during the autumn months, spectacular flocks of Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare and Redwing can also be seen.
 
The Chirk estate is still a working estate, with tennants farming the land. The Myddelton family still keep livestock on the estate, including historic breeds such as White Park cattle, English Longhorn cattle and Welsh Black sheep. Wild ponies are used for conservation grazing in the woodlands to help reduce the bracken cover and promote natural regeneration of the trees. Numbers of grazing sheep on the front park of the estate have been reduced in order to assist grassland fungi populations.
 

Segtrek

This ‘Segway experience’ is run by local company Segtrek, who take 1 hour 30 minute guided sessions across the Chirk estate throughout the day on weekends, and on weekdays. Booking is all handled through their website www.segtrek.net.