Erddig French meadow walk through Emes' pleasure park
Erddig's French meadow trail is a 3.5 mile circular walk taking you round our red waymarked route through a mix of riverside paths, a meadow and woodland.
Discover our natural lake and wetland wildlife
With over 30 ponds on our estate, the lake in the French meadow was formed in the 1980s by subsidence caused by coal mining. Today it is a beautiful oasis for a wide variety of birds, mammals and invertebrates.
Erddig car park
Start by the dovecote and walk east through the coach park, continuing straight on to the stony track. On your right you’ll see the dead oak tree (Quercus robur) home to barn owls and a myriad of invertebrates.
18th century dovecote
The early 18th century dovecote housed pigeons, which were very useful for a stately home. They were a valuable source of food for their meat and eggs, their feathers used as stuffing material and the droppings contained potassium nitrate, an ingredient for gun powder!
Follow the path round to the left and past the ha-ha, where if you look westwards (to your left), you will see the back of the house, the canal water feature and a glimpse of the 18th century formal gardens. The elaborate wrought iron gates from Stansty Hall, thought to be constructed by the Davis brothers, were installed at Erddig in 1977 when the house opened to the public.
Ha-has are a quirky kind of walls built in the 17th and 18th Century on country estates of the landed gentry. They typically formed a boundary between the estate's gardens and grounds and built to be invisible from the house, ensuring a clear view across the estate.
Continue along the path and enter Big Wood.
Big Wood is considered an ornamental woodland as there is a diverse range of broadleaf tree species including oak (Quercus roburor) and sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) compared to our other woodlands which are predominantly beech (Fagus sylvatica).
Follow the path round to the left and take the right hand path, following the way markers.
At the next set of way markers turn right and continue along Lime Walk, taking advantage of the stunning views across French Meadow, following the course of the Clywedog River below you.
Fertile flood plain
The Clywedog is approximately 14 miles long and was once the lifeline of the area for watering the crops and livestock, powering corn mills and driving industrial machinery. There was once 17 watermills along its course and it created a fertile floodplain ideal for pasture and arable farming.
At the end of Lime Walk go through the kissing gate onto the road. Take care when entering the road as there is a blind bend. Turn left and make your way down the steep road over the bridge and towards Sontley car park.
At the car park, turn left and go through the kissing gate into French meadow and continue straight across the fields, passing through a wooden farm gate half way along. In winter this route is quite wet, so an alternative is to walk through Coed-Y-Glyn Wood beyond the car park and follow the footpath to the left.
As mentioned earlier, our French meadow is a floodplain for the Clywedog River and was levelled out in 1772 by William Emes, transforming it from an agricultural landscape to parkland. On your left hand side is a large natural lake which appeared in the 1980s due to subsidence from coal mining at the local colliery at Bersham. The lake is now abundant with waterfowl including swans.
Continue through our French meadow until reaching the stone footpath of Erddig Road, turning left over the stone bridge.
Continue straight along the footpath, following the course of Black Brook and over a second stone bridge.
A little further on, head over the wooden bridge on your right and towards the 'Cup and Saucer' water feature.
The 'Cup and Saucer' waterfall was designed by William Emes in the 1770s along with many other features on the estate. The cylindrical waterfall drops about 10ft and was designed to lower the Black Brook quickly to prevent erosion. There is also a hydraulic ram from the late 18th Century, which used to pump 10,000 gallons of water 90ft uphill to supply the gardens and fountains. The thud of the ram was known as the ‘Heartbeat of Erddig’.
Staying on the left hand side of the cup and saucer water feature, head through the wooden kissing gate, following the red waymarker sign. You'll follow the course of Black Brook through fields commonly used for grazing our Shire horses, particularly in the summer months.
Our Shire horses are gentle giants who will continue grazing as you walk by. If you are afraid of horses, you can head back over the wooden bridge and up the steep tarmacked footpath back to the car park which will make the walk shorter.
After going through the second kissing gate, go straight across the field, to an opening in the woodland through another kissing gate and up a gentle slope.
Turn right and walk 100 metres along the main drive and then turn left, heading through a kissing gate onto Green Lane footpath.
In the field on your left you might notice the medieval architectural feature known as ridge and furrow. This was created when the field was ploughed between the 11th and 16th Century.
Continue along the footpath, bearing left as you go through a wooden gate. You will notice many wooden structures just off the footpaths in this area; these were used for the cross-country element of the Welsh National Horse Carriage Trials that used to take place on the estate annually.
Passing Sontley Lodge Farm on the right, continue along the stoned drive and head through a kissing gate on your left into Forest Wood and head straight down the central track.
Forest Wood would have been used as the timber stock for the estate, where trees would have been felled and the timber used for construction and firewood. The species growing here would have been mainly hardwoods including Oak (Quercus robur).
Turn left when reaching Forest Drive and go over the cattle grid at the bottom.
Flanking the driveway are impressive avenues of Wellingtonias or Giant Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum) which are thought to be some of the first specimens in the country.
Turn right and follow the edge of Forest wood back up to the dovecote.
Erddig car park
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