"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday 28 September 2023

Herefordshire 2023 (12) - Part 4: Ancient Tree Trail at Croft Castle


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


Rustic Pumpkin said...

Stunning! It looks like you had a super afternoon exploring all these ancient trees. And aren't they magnificent? Those tactile gnarly trunks full of texture and interest. No doubt by now you have seen the news about the 300 year old Sycamore on Hadrian's Wall. A wanton act of criminal vandalism. I hope they catch the perpetrators soon and hold them fully accountable for what they have done.

Ragged Robin said...

Rustic Pumpkin - Thanks so much. It really is a beautiful walk and so much character in those old gnarled trees. Its the third time we've done the walk and I never tire of it.
Yes I've seen about the Hadrian Wall sycamore - so tragic and as you say a wanton act of criminal vandalism. It was Tree of the Year fairly recently and I agree I hope they catch the perpetrators. Such an iconic tree and the news has upset so many.

Rosie said...

How wonderful those old trees are. Glad you found the old Oak tree this time, it looks a lovely place to walk and you had good weather for it too. The apple sculpture is unusual, I quite like it:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much. Appe sculpture quite apt for Herefordshire with all those apple orchards :)

CherryPie said...

I have enjoyed walks around the grounds and remember some of the trees in your post, although I haven't followed the tree trail.

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thank you - well worth following the actual Ancient Tree Trail.