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*October 2019, Regional Ramble – Petworth Deer Park

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Regional Ramble – Petworth House Deer Park, West Sussex – 25th October 2019

This ramble was proposed by our DR member Roger W, who lives in West Sussex and this stands a good chance of becoming an annual favourite as the Park is so lovely and it is very interesting to watch the deer and their antics at this time of year, unfortunately, on our visit the weather wasn’t perfect – rather damp and cold – so although we did linger at various points, we would have liked to have spent more time watching these lovely creatures.  The bellowing of the stags and the hinds rushing around in little groups, plus the occasional clashing of antlers as two stags fought for possession of their harem, was very atmospheric and interesting. Many of the stags were limping, so they must have been injured whilst fighting one of their fellow stags. Lovely to see and watch. We all see it on TV but to witness it in person is really something.

We had 9 scooterists originally, but one cancellation reduced this to 8 and 2 walkers.  There is a rather unusual snack bar in the car park, The Flying Ducks based in a vintage caravan, which is very popular, but just for this day it had been closed!  We had hoped to have had a lovely hot chocolate and chat at the end of the ramble but this was not to be. However, we all set off with fingers crossed for good weather as the forecast was not brilliant, it was OK until just before lunch when a rainy squall set in for about an hour or so, but it wasn’t too bad and cleared up after that.  The park is huge and is mainly mature oaks, chestnut, maple trees and was landscaped by the famous Capability Brown, and the setting also inspired the landscape painter, JMW Turner which you can clearly see from the lakes especially. It is a lovely area to walk in, very green with the ancient trees all around and there are many grassy paths to choose from, easy to take the wrong one – as I did on the day – we had to turn round no less than 3 times!  Luckily, thanks to my trusty ViewRanger we only went a few wheel turns before I realised, good practice for our members at three point turns anyway! That was my excuse.

Plenty of deer, especially after lunch as the route we devised took us through all the main areas that are occupied by very large herds of fallow deer.  Our morning route took us past the kennels, home to a pack of hounds who welcomed us very loudly as we passed by. Then across the back of this grand, massive house inspired by the Baroque palaces of Europe,  towards the large Upper Pond where there are many wildfowl. We had lunch there before progressing on through the main part of the deer park where we watched them for quite a while, before returning to the car park in the nick of time before another heavy squall of rain came through, by this time we were all loaded up and away.  A very good day and a venue we will definitely return to. Thanks to all for coming, some from a considerable distance, and to Roger for suggesting it in the first place.  Val and Bob.