Croft's historic parkland
Croft has 1500-acres of wood, farm and parkland and is home to a wealth of ancient trees, a 'Picturesque' Fish Pool Valley, bird hides, archaeology and an Iron Age hill fort, all just waiting to be discovered.
Stroll up to Croft Ambrey, the Iron Age hill fort
Set on a 300-metre high ridge to the north of the castle, Croft Ambrey the Iron Age hill fort is one of the most elaborate hill forts in the Welsh Marches. Excavations have uncovered decorative bronzework and a piece of gold chain, which hint at the wealth of the Celtic grain-farmers who built this fortress around 500 BC and farmed the landscape below. By the time of the Roman invasion in the 1st-century AD, the fort had probably already been abandoned, although legend has it that the site was used by supporters of the rebel Celtic leader 'Caractacus'. Much of the ramparts are still intact today and our ranger and his volunteer team will be working to gently restore the ramparts, clearing unwanted growth and restoring the original views over the next 5 years.
Explore the restoration of the historic wood pasture
On your way up to the hill fort you will walk though an area of historic wood pasture which is surrounded by fast growing conifers. In autumn 2014 we embarked on a large scale conservation partnership project with the Forestry Commission to restore this area back to its former glory as it was last seen 100 years ago, improving the benefits for native wildlife and trees. The Forestry Commission extracted the conifer and we are now working to reinstate the pasture by introducing low level grazing, native tree planting and encouraging the regrowth of natural woodland and grassland plants. You can find out more about this project by visiting the wood pasture barn which sits on the Croft Ambrey walk or ask visitor reception for a walks leaflet on arrival.
Go bird watching in the 19th century Fish Pool Valley
Fish Pool Valley was landscaped in the early 19th-century in the 'Picturesque' style. The stream was dammed to form a chain of artificial pools, and the valley sides were thickly planted with a mix of Oak, Ash, Willow, Poplar and Evergreen species to suggest the 'bold roughness of nature'. Today, we're fundraising to restore the dams and in addition our ranger team are improving the drainage on the footpaths so you can enjoy your walk better and are restoring the woody-edge of the paths to improve the intended natural shrub growth and redirecting canopy cover. Despite the work which is needed to restore this site to its former glory, it is still a tranquil spot for bird watching and you can visit the family sized bird hide at the bottom pool to see if you can spot a variety of herons and moorhens to great spotted woodpeckers, sparrowhawks and other native woodland birds.
Discover over 300 veteran trees
Croft has an impressive collection of ancient trees. There's the Quarry Oak at around 1000 years old, the newly discovered Candelabra Oak at around 750 years old and the Herefordshire county champion Douglas Fir which stands at 57.6m in height in Fish Pool Valley. Come and enjoy a walk exploring these glorious giants and see how we care for them along the way.
Explore even more of the estate and keep fit at the same time
Ask at visitor reception about Croft's Orienteering course which takes in all areas of farm, park and woodland. There are short courses for beginners or those who are looking for something a little more gentle and a full long course which has been used by professional orienteers for competitions and training.