We met at Lodge Park Wood car park on a beautiful evening. Our walk leader was Haydn Garlick, Lead Ranger for Stackpole Estate. Haydn started his talk by explaining that the Lodge Park Wood was the nearest wood to Stackpole Mansion and was originally laid out as an Arboretum of predominantly Beech, Home Oak and Scots Pine trees within which were several paths and seating areas for the family and visitors to enjoy.
From the car park we made our way to the main drive of the mansion and stopped at The One Arched Bridge. There was a pond on one side, but this was being taken over by a large reed bed. The other side was completely overgrown. Haydn feels that a major regeneration programme is needed to reinstate the lake system originally designed by John Campbell who had also worked for other estates in Pembrokeshire e.g., Picton and Slebech.
Walking further along the drive we came to the road. Haydn pointed out that the hill straight ahead used to be the main road to Pembroke although nothing remains of it now. The first Deer Park was also in this vicinity.
We crossed the road and walked up what was quite a steep track known as the Army Path. Walking along members noticed several trees with large red painted dots on them. Haydn explained these trees have Ash Dieback Disease and will need to be taken down. A tree is identified as having the disease if it has 50% or less foliage, it is a fungal disease and Pembrokeshire is one of the worst areas for it. Approximately 500 trees need to be felled on the estate. Evidence of coppicing was also seen as we continued on through Castle Dock wood.
Reaching the top of the path we came to the Belvedere. The Cawdors had a tower built here and used to entertain guests to tea and it enabled them to show off their large estate. The view was spectacular looking across to the sea, Stackpole Village and several farms. This is where the seat sponsored by the PNTA to celebrate The National Trust’s 125 Anniversary will be placed. It is being made by Anthony Griffiths from Stackpole Village.
Starting our return journey through the woods we passed Hill Lodge, previously a gate lodge on the main drive, now privately owned. A short detour was made to the smoke house where fish from the estate were smoked. Haydn explained that The Cawdors used Stackpole as a shooting lodge while their main estate was in Scotland although at one time, they were also the largest landowners in Wales with a motto “Be Mindful”. Unfortunately, after the mansion was sold on, use by the American forces in WW 11 it fell into disrepair, and it was eventually demolished except for the stable block which has been converted into accommodation.
Continuing our return journey we came into Caroline Grove named after John Campbell’s wife who was Caroline Howard and had been brought up at Castle Howard. We saw a large arch and a grotto made from Karstic weathered limestone with an unusual local name of”Babaluobie”. The last feature we came to was The Hidden Bridge. This acts as an over flow bridge for the lake system and if people are seen walking along it from The One Arched Bridge where we stopped at the start of our walk it appears they are walking on water !!
We arrived back at the car park where members thanked Haydn for a most interesting and enjoyable evening and wished him and his team well in continuing with the huge task they are undertaking for The National Trust.