When your thoughts are on faraway travels, as mine often are, it’s always a pleasant experience to be reminded of how much there is to see right on your doorstep. Last year was a great year for travel for, not least because I had plenty of opportunity to visit places around the UK. Making the effort to venture out of the city at weekends can be so rewarding; weekends feel longer and the country air and chance to stretch your legs is the perfect antidote to a week sat at a desk looking at a computer screen!
To kick the year off to a good start on the first weekend in January, Pete and I hit the road and ventured up to Studley Royal deer park in North Yorkshire. It was only after having decided to find somewhere to go on the Sunday for a country walk that I even heard of the deer park (just an hour north of here) for the first time. After a bit of research it was hard to determine if January would be a good time of year for deer spotting but I decided to dig out my wellies, get wrapped up, and take my chances anyway.
Parking up at Fountain’s Abbey visitor centre, where parking is free, it was just a ten minute walk to the deer park entrance. Following the path leading down into the deer park, past St Mary’s Curch, it certainly wasn’t long before we spotted some deer on the horizon. It quickly became apparent that my fears we might not see any at this time of year were unfounded – the park is home to over five hundred! Large Red, creamy-coloured Fallow and spotted Sika deer can all be found here. We were also pretty sure we spotted a goat masquerading but can’t be sure.
The weather was ideal, with largely clear skies and soft winter sun. We walked about a 3-hour round-trip (you can find walking routes to download or print here) rounded off with a hot chocolate to defrost at the Abbey’s cafe. It must have been our lucky day though – as well as seeing so many deer, the second we hopped in the car it began to pour and didn’t stop till Monday!