Castle Cross Loop
Lúb Chrois an Chaisleáin
Castle Cross Loop
Start / Finish: Castle Cross Carpark | GPS: 51.571743, -8.975350 | Distance: 1.6km | Duration: 40 minutes | Level: Easy | Colour Code: Green Arrows | Ascent: 45m
Starting from Castle Cross carpark and picnic area, adjacent to the entrance to Castlefreke Country House, follow the green arrows through woodland that was once part of the Castlefreke estate. This is a lovely safe loop walk completely enclosed in the woods and very suitable for families. The trees were planted in the early 1950s, and include a mixture of conifer and broadleaf, by the State Forestry Division, the precursor of Coillte. As well as a variety of trees with a rich carpet of bluebells in spring, you will see an abundance of wildflowers in summer and autumn, such as willowherb, bird’s-foot trefoil, cow vetch and honeysuckles, making a colourful display at the edge of the track as you walk along.
Watch out for the fingerpost to the bullaun / wart well, which is just a short diversion from the trail. As the trail loops back to the carpark, the magnificent high wall bounding the old gardener’s cottage comes into view.
Points of Interest
Bullaun / Wart Well
A short distance off the trail is an interesting monument: a rock outcrop with an oval hollow. It is possibly an early medieval bullaun stone.
Bullauns are an archaeological monument-type dated to the 5th–12th centuries AD. They are often associated with ecclesiastical sites of this period, but there is no such site close by. The word bullaun is derived from the Irish ‘ballán’ or ‘bullán’, which refers to round holes in rocks, usually filled with water. Its local name ‘Wart Well’ may indicate later beliefs in its medicinal properties.
It accommodated the head gardener and his family at the Castlefreke estate until 1921. Vegetables, fruit and flowers were grown in the adjacent walled garden.