DEER have been roaming in Tatton Park for centuries. Native red deer were introduced to the historic estate in 1290 by royal charter.

But it has only been in the past 55 years that the public have been able to enjoy a walk on the wild side for themselves.

Tatton was a private estate until 1958 when the last baron, Maurice Egerton, bequeathed his family home to the National Trust.

Now 750,000 visitors a year enjoy the parkland where the deer, the estate’s oldest residents, have virtually the entire 1,000 acre estate at their disposal.

Tatton Park’s rangers host a series of evening guided walks in the summer and autumn so you can see the animal in its natural setting.

Weekend joined ranger Adrian Bell and a group of walkers to find out more.

We first learned about the two species at the park: the native red deer and the smaller, timid fallow deer.

It is thought the Normans introduced fallow deer to the UK for hunting in the royal forests.

Adrian, who used to work as a forester, explained how the deer’s antlers are used during rutting (mating) season and that, remarkably, new antlers are grown each year. Then we set off on a two-hour walk to areas usually out of bounds.

Deer were in abundance but kept their distance, observing us with casual curiosity, even with Adrian attempting to entice them with grassnuts. One of the highlights of the summer walks is the chance to see newborn fawns and calves and we were lucky enough to see one nesting in the long grass.

We could just about see its ears flicking above the grass blades.

But we had to resist the temptation to move any closer because if fawns or calves get human scent on them they can be rejected by their mother.

The deer are fed on 200 tonnes of carrot and haylage but it does not stop them getting peckish.

The first to suffer are sycamore trees due to their naturally sweet syrup and Adrian showed the painstaking measures to protect them.

There are around 700 deer in the height of summer but around 200 are culled each winter to maintain a healthy population.

The walk is gentle and suitable for all ages.

Tatton Park’s autumn deer walks are on October 15, 16 and 22 from 4pm to 6pm and cost £8. Minimum age is eight.

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