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Exploring the estate at Chirk Castle

Visitors walking their dog in the parkland at Chirk Castle, Wrexham
Visitors walking their dog in the parkland at Chirk Castle, Wrexham | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

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.

Spring highlights on Chirk Castle’s estate

Spring is a fantastic time to explore Chirk Castle's beautiful parkland, whether you love snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells, admiring the lambs or spotting the returning Swallows.

Winter flowers at Chirk Castle estate

Spend time in nature exploring the parkland, to notice trees coming back into leaf and dashes of blossom colour brightening up the landscape.

Find early flowers like dandelions and buttercups on our magnificent meadow right in front of the castle, which are important for early pollinators like bees. Or follow the blue waymarkers along our Woodland Walk trail to find Bluebells in Deershed Wood.

Birdlife at Chirk Castle

The estate is a great place to see a range of bird species all year round, but spring brings us an exciting number of migrant species who breed within the woodlands, like Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts.

The bird hide along the our blue waymarked Woodland Walk is a great spot to sit and observe many of the woodland bird species.

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.

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

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.

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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View of the castle at springtime at Chirk Castle, Wrexham

Visiting the garden at Chirk Castle 

Indulge your senses and refresh your spirit with a gentle wander amongst the scents and seasonal colours of the rare shrubs and flowers in this lovely five-and-a-half acre garden.

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Visiting 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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Visiting Chirk Castle with your dog 

The 480-acre estate can be a great place to explore with your pooch whatever the weather. Find out more about where you can take your dog and where you can stop for a tasty treat.

A selection of Easter decorations including felted animals and floral mugs

Eating and shopping at Chirk Castle 

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.