Clare Castle Country Park consists of 13.2 hectares of semi-natural woodland, open grassland, hedgerows and wetland. Fishponds were dug in the medieval period to supply the castle’s needs; five of these were still present on the map of 1847.
The railway of 1865 necessitated the removal of some of the earthworks and the draining and filling in of some of the ponds. Parts of the land were leased for commercial agriculture, including cattle-grazing, duck rearing and water-cress growing.
Elms on the motte and Lady’s Walk were cropped for firewood. Cricket bat willows were planted in the 1940s. After the railway left, the ponds were recreated in part to enable the opening of the park in 1971; further de-silting took place in 1983. The ponds contribute extensively to the wetland habitat.
Significant elements of the flora are:
The commonest trees are ash, hazel, oak, elder, willow, sycamore and alder. To some extent, the woodland areas require thinning out to allow more light to penetrate to the ground level, where flowers such as bluebell have lost ground. The presence of alder along the water edges is significant for the water life: the leaves readily break up in water and release nutrients for invertebrates such as caddis fly and water beetles.
No detailed survey of the fauna and flora has been carried out to the present date; we hope a band of local volunteers will conduct a survey in the near future. This will be carried out at different times of the year, to record both residents and migrants, as well as the season-specific habits of particular species.