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31 July 2014
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Parks | Crom Estate

Treasure trove for nature lovers

Bat wing

Crom Castle is one of the best estates in Great Britain. Set on the shores of the Upper Lough Erne, Crom is one of Northern Ireland's most important conservation areas and was gifted by the present Lord Erne to the National Trust in 1987.

Bat adventure at Crom

The original Crom Castle was built in 1611, surviving two Jacobite sieges before being destroyed in 1764 by a domestic fire.

Almost 100 years passed before a new castle was built in 1840, which is now a private home and thus closed to the public.

Visitors can still enjoy the ruins of the old castle, as well as the remains of a late 17th century formal garden and bowling green to the south of the site.

Wildlife lovers visiting the estate can explore the romantic landscape of islands and ancient woodland in one of the Trust's most important nature reserves.

Old woodlands

The 1,900-acre estate includes the largest surviving area of oak woodland in Northern Ireland and one of the most important and relatively unspoilt freshwater habitats anywhere in the British Isles.

Crom is also home to some the oldest yew trees in Ireland, and possibly Europe, at the entrance to the Old Castle Garden.

The trees are reputed to be more than 800 years old and were nominated as one of the 50 Greatest British Trees for the Queen's Jubilee in 2002.

The two entwined old Yews with their twisted branches are male and female - the male is characterised by its small, yellow flowers whilst the female has green flowers which turn to bright red berries.

Batman at Crom

Crom is also home to bats and is a great place to watch these nocturnal creatures.

As the light fades, the Pipistrelle bats make social calls to each other before streaming out of their roosting places.

This natural spectacle as noisy and fascinating to watch, especially if you have a bat detector to amplify their echoes.

These small bats weigh as little as a two pence piece, but eat as many as 3,000 insects per night.

Look out for bat watching events throughout the summer months.

Woodland sounds

The wealth of wildlife at Crom is exemplified by the presence of two rare butterflies - the purple hair-streak and the wood white - and also boasts the largest heronry in Ireland.

Other species to be found here include a small herd of Fallow Deer which can be seen grazing in the Estate's 24-acre deer park, as well as cattle and sheep elsewhere in the grounds.

Visitors to the Estate in May and June each year can also enjoy a guided walk through the magical Culliagh Wood to see the flowering rhododendrons blooming there.

The award-winning Visitors Centre currently houses an exhibition on the history and wildlife of the estate, as well as a lecture room, a small shop, slipway and seven self-catering cottages.

 

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