Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
- Site Contact: Carol Eltzroth & George Costen, (804) 375-3539
- Site Access: Call ahead for day or early visits, overnight guests by appointment only; tours of the house and grounds available for $7
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Site PHP02A: Ampthill Plantation
Ampthill Plantation is located in one of the most beautiful spots in Cumberland County. Sitting atop its highest peak, Ampthill is a grand mix of both architectural and natural history. The frame portion of the home was completed in 1735 and one time owner Randolph Harrison had his first cousin President Thomas Jefferson design a brick addition that was later completed in 1835. The Harrison family privately owned the property for a number of years and prior to its most recent purchase, Ampthill operated as a farm until it fell into major disrepair in the 1980's. Ampthill Plantation is not only a state and national historic property; it is also the only privately owned Jeffersonian property that welcomes overnight guests. Take time to not only tour the grounds, but the home and its six dependencies. Make arrangements to stay overnight and sit fireside with George and Carol and be treated to one of their delicious breakfasts in the morning! For wildlife viewing, there are a variety of opportunities available. Killdeer are numerous during most of the year in the pastures behind the main house and scarlet tanager, and orchard and Baltimore orioles have all been seen in the wooded tract behind the summer kitchen. For those interested in a slightly longer walk, the pasture to the left of the driveway as you enter, offers an opportunity for an extended walk between where open pasture, forest, and a small spring-fed stream at the bottom of the hill come together. Eastern bluebirds are quite vocal here and don't be surprised to see deer bounding across an adjacent pasture. During summer months barn swallows, chimney swifts, and a variety of warblers inhabit various parts of the 60 acres that surround the house. Keep your eyes open also for numerous butterfly species around the house gardens and for a rare glimpse of the black fox squirrels which are unique to Cumberland County in this part of Virginia. An additional highlight while in the area of Ampthill is the nearby Ducks Unlimited wetland. Approximately a mile south of Ampthill on Rt. 602 (toward SR 45) there is a pull-off next to a wetland restoration project. Ducks, geese and heron are all common in this area. As always, keep your eyes to the sky for the occasional bald eagle that will fly over anytime you are this close to the James River.
From Powhatan Wildlife Management Area, at the intersection of Rt. 627 and US 60, travel west on US 60 for 1.3 miles to Rt. 629/Trenholm Road. Turn right on Rt. 629/Trenholm Road and continue for 4.4 miles to Rt. 684/Cartersville Road. (Beware that Rt. 629 splits, keep to the left to stay on Trenholm Road.) At Rt. 684/Cartersville Road turn left and proceed 3.1 miles to SR 45. Continue straight at the stop sign onto SR 45 for 1.1 miles to Rt. 602/Ampthill Road. Turn right on Ampthill Rd. and continue 2.8 miles to Ampthill Plantation. (Note: There is a pull-off at 1.7 miles from SR 45 at a large wetland on the right. This is the Ducks Unlimited wetland restoration project.)