Friday was thankfully sunny so we decided to visit Croft Castle and walk the Ancient Tree Trail again. Croft Castle has much of interest and many walks - the Tree Trail and Dingle or Fishpool Valley Walk are two we particularly enjoy and there is also a lovely walled garden and orchard which we didn't have time to visit this time. I still haven't seen the interior of the house - there never seems time!
Croft Castle has been lived in by the Croft family since the Norman Conquest, apart from a period of around 177 years.
The estate covers 644 hectares (1591 acres).
The original castle was a motte and bailey castle located to the west of the castle we see today. The castle was rebuilt as a stone walled manor and was transformed by Sir James Croft in Tudor times. It was badly damaged during the Civil War. In 1746 due to bankruptcy in the Croft family the castle was taken over by the Knight family and turned into today's Gothic Castle.
A lovely stone wyvern.
St Michael and All Angels predates the present castle. The first church was built in the C12th and the present church dates back to the C14th enlarged in the C15th and remodelled in the 18th. The bell turret with ogee shaped cupola was added in the late C17th.
I didn't go in the church this time but if you want to see the interior please see this post St Michel and All Angels
Onto the one and a half mile Ancient Tree trail where you walk along to a pond.
After the pool there is a grove of ancient or veteran sweet chesnuts.
Finally, on the third attempt! we found the Quarry Oak which is 1000 years old and one of the oldest trees on the estate. On the previous two visits we failed to find it!
The Chestnut Avenue which is my favourite part of the trail was once the formal approach to the castle and a local story says that the sweet chesnuts planted here were taken from captured Spanish vessels and planted between 1580 and 1680 to represent the formal battle plan of the Armada.
More recently planted chestnut trees form another avenue in the valley.
The hawthorn grove is very old and planted as though within an orchard. One theory is that they were the rootstock plants for a Medlar Tree Orchard and when the Medlars died the rootstock took over.
As you follow a trail back to the castle you pass more old chestnut trees.
The Sir William Croft Oak which is a 500 year old oak tree named after Sir William who allegedly died under this tree after being shot in the Civil War.
I was hoping for cake or an icecream after the walk but lets just say B wasn't prepared to wait as there was a queue in the tea room :(
As mentioned in a previous post it rained all day Saturday and we came home Sunday lunchtime so sadly this was the last day out of the trip.
All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera. (I don't particularly rate my photos but if anyone wishes to use one I would be grateful for an email first - thanks).
Reference: Croft Castle Ancient Tree Trail leaflet