Deer rut walksPosted on: 05 October 2012 by Gareth Hargreaves
Enjoy the beautiful colours of autumn and the annual deer rut at historic National Trust parks
As the green abundance of summer slips away to the rusty colours of autumn, deer are gearing up for one of the most spectacular events in nature's calendar. From mid September until early November the males are showcasing their might and dominance during the annual deer rut. There are National Trust deer parks across the UK where you can witness this magnificent display first hand.
For most of the year the male deer have been living harmoniously, resting, feeding and building up their strength ready for this year's contest. But as soon as the rutting season begins, the males will go from being close companions to genuine adversaries.
Across deer parks and the countryside you will hear the unmistakable roar of the red deer or the bark of the fallow that announce a male's presence. You will see opponents stalking up and down, sizing each other up. Suddenly they will strike. Their antlers will lock with a loud clack and the deer will wrestle. Occasionally these battles can lead to serious injuries or even death.
"Deer parks are the most wonderful landscapes, rich in both wildlife and history," says Nick Walmsley, Forestry Advisor at the National Trust. "There is nothing more atmospheric than taking an autumnal walk on a misty morning and hearing the sounds of the rut coming out of the haze. What's more, it would have been exactly the same if you were walking there a hundred, three hundred or even eight hundred years ago. They are one of the few places where you can travel back in time and see a landscape that really hasn't changed."
Deer parks have played an important role in shaping our countryside since Norman times. Because deer parks have remained relatively untouched for many centuries they have become important wildlife havens, rich in archaeology and history. Ancient trees litter the landscape and give life to many other species including rare lichens and deadwood invertebrates.
The National Trust has several deer parks which are still stocked with fallow and in some instances red deer:
Attingham Park, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY4 4TP. Telephone 01743 708162. Entrance to the deer park & grounds costs £4.05 for adults and £2.15 for children.
Belton House, Grantham, Lincolnshire NG32 2LS. Telephone 01476 566116. Entrance to the grounds costs £8.63 for adults and £4.77 for children (during winter £3.40 adults, £2.27 children).
Charlecote Park, Warwick, Warwickshire CV35 9ER. Telephone 01789 470277. Entrance to garden & grounds costs £4.54 for adults and £2.27 for children (during winter £5.45 adults, £2.75 children).
Dinefwr Park, Landeilo, Carmarthenshire, SA19 6RT. Telephone 01558 824512. Entrance to park costs £6.09 for adults and £3.04 for children.
Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 4SJ. Telephone 0161 941 1025. Entrance to garden costs £5 for adults and £2.50 for children. There is a reduced rate when arriving by public transport
Dyrham, nr Bath, Gloucestershire SN14 8ER. Telephone 0117 937 2501. Entrance to garden and park costs £3.80 for adults and £2 for children (when the house and garden is closed £2.50 adults, £1.20 children).
Lyme Park, Disley, Stockport, Cheshire SK12 2NX. Telephone 01663 762023. Entrance to garden costs £3.80 for adults and £2.20 for children.
Discover a world of hidden nature with the National Trust. From bat walks to badger watching there is something for all ages. For more information about events near you and activities you can go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/nature.
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