ONE of Cheshire’s most visited monuments is also brimming with wildlife, according to English Heritage.
A trail across Beeston Castle’s grounds and surrounding Woodland Park is being launched to entice enthusiasts to view various species.
Since the park, which surrounds the castle near Tarporley, opened in 2008, birdwatchers have seen some rare breeds including woodpeckers and cuckoos.
Visitor operations manager Mark Hodgson said: “When you are looking for ground-based animals, you’ll often see squirrels and rabbits running around the grounds, but these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our wildlife populations.
“There are several badger colonies hidden in the dense foliage around the site, and although you are unlikely to see a badger during the day, you can easily spot signs of where they have been, including their latrine and scratches on trees where they have been looking for insects.”
Cheshire Ecological Services, the commercial wing of the Cheshire Wildlife Trust, has published a report detailing the various species visitors can see during a trip to Grade I listed castle.
Birds living around the site include peregrine falcons, meadow pipit, dunnocks, willow warblers and goldcrests. There is also a colony of Natterer’s bats as well as pipistrells although castle staff admit they are very rarely seen.
The wildlife trail has been designed not just for ornithologists but also for youngsters who can follow signs and spotter sheets, available on request.
Admission prices to Beeston (10am-6pm) are £5.30 adults, £4.40 concessions and £2.70 children. English Heritage members get in free.
For more information, contact Beeston Castle on 01829 260464 or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/beeston.