Explore the parkland at Wimpole
Wimpole Estate has 600 acres of parkland to explore. Discover the landscape park, the rare-breed cattle and walk through grand avenues, before entering shaded woodland into an arable landscape.
The parkland at Wimpole
Lying at the centre of the estate is the 300-acre ancient parkland once home to a herd of fallow deer. Today you will discover many rare breed cattle and sheep grazing among the veteran trees that cloak the park.
Discover the best bits of the parkland and countryside by joining our volunteer guides on a Wednesday Walk every Wednesday morning, or you can join them for a history themed Sunday Stroll around Wimpole Estate every Sunday morning.
Of the 2500 acres on the Estate the vast majority is farmland and almost all of this is organically farmed by the National Trust. The estate also has rivers, lakes, ponds, pastures and meadows all forming a wide range of habitats for wildlife flora and fauna.
Sharing space with the livestock
Cattle and sheep are naturally inquisitive animals. To keep you and the animals safe in the fields which they graze, please follow this advice:
- Stop, look and listen on entering a field. Every field with livestock in at Wimpole will have a sign on the gates making you aware if there are cattle and sheep in that field
- If possible, walk around the herd. Try to avoid getting between the herd, especially cows and their calves. If cattle react to your presence, move quietly and calmly away from them
- Keep your dog close, on a short lead, and under effective control in any field with livestock in
- Close the gate behind you when walking through fields containing livestock. Keep us informed of any problems you experience
- Hang onto your dog if you feel threatened by cattle - let it go as the cattle are more likely to chase the dog and not you
- Put yourself at risk by walking close to cattle
- Panic or run – most cattle will stop before they reach you, if they follow just walk away quietly
Sheep and lambs
You may see sheep and lambs in the parkland, please give them plenty of space. Don’t pick up the lambs, even if they are on their own. Ewes will often leave a lamb while she grazes, but the team check them regularly each day to monitor any problems.
The Gothic Tower at Wimpole
On your visit to Wimpole, look out for the Gothic Tower. Designed to look like a picturesque medieval ruin, it is based on a sketch by the architect Sanderson Miller in 1749 for his patron, Lord Hardwicke, the owner of Wimpole. The design was later realised in an amended form under the supervision of the great landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown from 1768-72.
In the following centuries, the ruin suffered extensive and gradual damage and access to the Tower and landscape was almost impossible. The conservation of the Tower called for repair of the structure, stabilization of the stonework and reinstatement of missing components of the building, all while preserving the weathered beauty and original ‘ruined’ appearance.
'Capability' Brown's North Park
When you visit Wimpole, you can explore ‘Capability’ Brown’s North Park. One of the most beautiful elements of the landscape at Wimpole, at its heart is an extraordinary folly in the form of a sham ruined castle. The landscape in the North park you see today was created from 1767 for Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke and his wife Jemima, Marchioness Grey.
When Brown surveyed Wimpole in 1769, he transfigured a vast area of farmland criss-crossed by hedges and roads north of the house. The old formal avenues were thinned or felled, and trees planted singly and in clumps to create open parkland.
Two angular 17th-century fishponds were made into serpentine lakes, and a third new lake was dug to the east. From higher ground these appear to flow through the park, like a sinuous river.
Closure of the Woodland Belts
Our woodland belts benefit from national and European protection, thanks to their population of rare Barbastelle bats. In fact, we have one of the very few Barbastelle maternity roosts in the UK, in a block of woodland within the Parkland.
To help look after these rare and elusive creatures, tree management needs to be limited in the future, so that holes and cracks in older trees can provide roosting sites. There are at least 80 trees that are classed as dangerous within our Tree Safety Management Policy.
While we cannot work on these trees we have reduced public access to this sensitive area, re-routing a section of path to minimise disturbance and help these roosting sites establish. We’re working closely with our partners to establish our next steps. Natural England continue to advise us on the management of our woodland belts, which are a designated Special Area of Conservation.
Our multi-use trail is an all-weather, accessible alternative to explore the wider parkland here at Wimpole. The trail takes in an 8 km (5.5 mile) circular route around the estate, and is suitable for walkers, runners, cyclists, and adapted wheelchair users.
We’re passionate about providing opportunities for people to get outdoors and closer to nature. Our aim is to make access to the parkland as easy as possible and help people feel comfortable about heading off into the countryside. However, it’s a careful balancing act of enabling access and safeguarding nature. We’re continuing to review the closure of the woodland belts, and whilst this important work takes place, we encourage visitors to explore the wider estate, of which there are 26km of alternative paths and walking trails to choose from.
Explore Wimpole's multi-use trail
Wimpole's multi-user trail provides an off-road circular route around the estate, providing even more opportunities to explore the woodland, parkland and farmland. The trail is 5.5 miles, or 8.5 kilometres long.
The trail is multi-use, intended for walkers, runners, cyclists and adapted wheelchair users. It's great for families looking for an easy, safe route that can get them active and enjoying time outside together.
Wimpole is one of ten National Trust properties chosen to build new multi-user trails to encourage visitors to enjoy different activities. The all-weather surface also means more people can explore the estate whatever the season.
Download a PDF of the route map or follow the waymarked signs from the visitor car park.
Cycling at Wimpole
With three routes ranging from one and a half to just over four miles to choose from, there’s something for all ages at Wimpole.
Carriage drive to Arrington
Ideal for beginners, this one and a half mile of tarmac terrain is ideal for mini explorers. Look out for the grand Arrington gates and the South Avenue.
This woodland track is just over three miles long. Enjoy a gentle route, which follows the estate road and a crossing, but is mainly on a dirt track through to Cobbs Wood. Please be aware that this route can get muddy.
Mare Way Challenge
Covering over four miles, and takes you on woodland track, arable fields and bridleways and the fun of a good challenge. You can even ride to Wimpole along the Wimpole Way.
The commemorative tree scheme is a popular way to commemorate a special person or occasion. The tree planting has now been completed but you can purchase a tree that has already been planted.
The trees are being planted in the parkland following historical evidence to replace veteran trees. Species include oak, lime, horse chestnut, hornbeam, field maple, beech, walnut, London plane, sycamore, thorn.
The cost to plant a commemorative tree is £300. This price includes a metal cattle proof tree guard and any subsequent maintenance (weeding, mulching) or a replacement if the tree dies.
We maintain a record of all commemorative trees, consisting of a certificate with wording requested by the donor and a map of the tree location.
If you wish to purchase a commemorative tree, please email the estate office for further information.
Download a map of the Multi-use trail route.
A visit to Wimpole Home Farm is a favourite with all the family. Discover the rare-breed animals, five Shire horses and in spring, visit the newborn lambs.
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