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Exploring the estate at Chirk Castle

Two walkers and two dogs walking through a woodland at Chirk Castle, Wrexham
Walking the dogs at Chirk Castle, Wrexham | © National Trust Images/Natalie Overthrow

Chirk Castle estate is made up of 480 acres of woodland, meadow and tenanted grassland. Discover a working landscape full of ancient trees, wild flowers, birds and insects.

Autumn highlights

Take a seasonal stroll

Pull on your walking boots, wrap-up warm and see the ancient trees in their autumn finery, a dazzling array of reds, yellows, burnt oranges and golds. The Woodland Walk and Old Golf Walk look particularly fantastic at this time of year.

Find autumnal fungi

Don’t miss the colourful grassland fungi across the estate – you’ll see most of them in Baddy’s Park. They’re easiest to spot in these moist conditions, particularly the waxcaps, which form part of Chirk Castle’s Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) accreditation.

There are many varieties to spot, from the very common to the quite rare, from the edible to the poisonous. Please help us to protect these autumnal beauties by not touching them.

Look out for autumn birdlife

Keep your eyes peeled for redwings and fieldfares at this time of year. They’re both classic autumn visitors from Scandinavia.

If there’s been a particularly harsh winter in mainland Europe you might even spot bramblings, which are attracted by the availability of beechmast on the estate.

Chirk Castle estate and castle as seen from Tyn-y-Groes, Wrexham
Chirk Castle estate, Wrexham | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Winter highlights

Winter is a fantastic time to explore Chirk's beautiful parkland. Wrap up warm, bring some sturdy shoes and get ready to follow the paths through the woodland and parkland.

Winter flowers at Chirk Castle estate

Two acres of snowdrops create a dazzling, white carpet in the Pleasure Ground Wood in February. It’s a sight that can’t be missed. Meanwhile evergreen trees and topiary sparkle with frost on the coldest days and colourful dogwood stems brighten up the winter landscape.

Look out for clusters of yellow Mahonia flowers and spidery, fragrant flowers of hamamelis (witch hazel) blooming in red, orange and yellow, adding colour to the estate and garden.

Birdlife at Chirk

Spot flocks of redwing and fieldfare as they come to the estate for a milder winter. You can also see bramblings with their winter plumage at this time of year.

Discovering the estate

The estate is located within the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

History of the Estate

There’s been a hunting forest here as long as there’s been a castle, including a vast medieval deer park. At its height in the 17th century, the estate was a sprawling 10,000 acres, which was gradually landscaped by successive members of the Myddelton family, culminating with William Emes grand scheme in 1764.

Protecting the formal gardens

Emes created sunken ditches, or 'ha-has', to stop the 500-strong deer herd from entering the formal gardens without needing fences which would obstruct the panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.

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.

Ancient oak trees

Today, the woodland is 70 per cent oak trees, and we care for many that are hundreds of years old. We're also part of the Veteran Tree Initiative, and will be planting 1,500 new trees, to replace those trees which have been lost from Emes’s original design.

Things to see on the estate

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 as William Emes levelled vast sections of it as part of his uncompromising work on the parkland.

The Davies Gates

The ornate Baroque gates are usually the first thing visitors will see when they arrive at Chirk Castle. They were commissioned 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 moved again in 1888 to their current location when the railway arrived.

The Davies gates, made of wrought and cast iron and created between 1712-1719, at Chirk Castle, Wrexham
The Davies gates at Chirk Castle, Wrexham. The wrought and cast iron gates were made by the Davies brothers of Croes Foel, Bersham, between about 1712 and 1719 | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Estate wildlife at Chirk

The estate is rich in biodiversity, and the 650 veteran trees on the estate are an important ecosystems in their own right. They support species of lichens, liverworts and mosses; provide roosting and breeding sites for bat species; and nest sites for bird species, including tree creepers and great spotted woodpeckers.

Habitat heaven for invertebrates

The standing and fallen deadwood trees provide 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.

Fabulous fungi

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.

Bat species to spot

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 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.

Bird spotting

The estate is a great place to see a range of bird species all year round. Spring brings a large number of migrant species, with blackcaps, chiffchaffs, pied flycatchers and redstarts all breeding within the woodlands.

On the parkland, buzzards are a common sight and during the autumn months, spectacular flocks of mistle thrushes, fieldfares and redwings can also be seen.

Livestock on the estate

Chirk is still a working estate, with tenants farming the land.

Numbers of grazing sheep on the front park of the estate have been reduced to assist grassland fungi populations.

The East Front and yew topiary at Chirk Castle, Wrexham, Wales

Discover more at Chirk Castle

Find out when Chirk Castle is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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History of Chirk Castle 

Chirk Castle was never planned as a family home. It was one of several medieval Marcher fortresses along the Welsh-English border, built to keep the Welsh under English rule.

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Visit our tea-room and enjoy homemade cakes that are baked daily, using the freshest ingredients. Or visit the gift shop which is packed with handmade treats and souvenirs.