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Stop 12: Powys Castle and estate

Across the canal you can see the grounds of Powys Castle, which are important for wildlife with many ancient trees and other habitats. The canal links these habitats to others within the canal corridor.

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Owain ap Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn, the last Prince of Powys, had the castle built in the mid-13th century. Powys Castle is famous for its terraced gardens and spectacular yew hedges. They were thought to have been designed by William Winde in the mid to late 17th century. It has been managed by the National Trust since 1952.

Big Doug

The parkland habitat that slopes down to the canal is known as ‘pasture woodland’; it is used for grazing and for timber production, with the canal being used in the past to transport the timber. It is also a rare and valuable habitat for a range of wildlife. This habitat often has ancient trees, and earlier in the 20th century Powys estate boasted the largest tree in Britain, an oak with a girth of 31ft 7 inches containing 2,000 cubic feet of timber, and the tallest tree in England and Wales - a Douglas fir of 168ft. Some of the trees present are probably relics of the primeval forests that once covered much of Wales.

A new gnat

Oak trees provide a home for 284 different species of invertebrate. Powys Estate is among the best sites in Wales and one of the best in the UK for insects that live in dead and rotting wood. During a survey carried out in the 1990s found a species of gnat that was new to science and two species of beetle that were new to Britain.

Look to the skies

As well as insects the park provides important habitats for bats. There are populations of the lesser horseshoe bats, common and soprano pipistrelles, long-eared, Natterer’s, Brandt’s, myotis, noctule and Daubenton’s, which are specialist at catching insects over water and will hunt over the canal.

In the skies above the parkland many species of bird can be seen flying including red kite, buzzard and raven.

Last date edited: 17 July 2015