The Best Parks In London To See Deer
Deer are beautiful creatures, the largest wild mammals in Britain and historically intertwined with British royalty. They are particularly majestic during the autumn months, when the rut (mating season) is underway. Autumn in London is the perfect time to visit a deer park, as testosterone-fuelled stags and bucks display their impressive antlers and bellow to fend off competing males. Hop in a Zipcar in London and make your way to any of these deer parks in and around the city.
The archetype deer park in London, Richmond Park’s expansive grass and woodland wouldn’t be complete without the herds of roe and fallow deer which call it home. In autumn you could witness males clashing antlers over territory and females, rubbing through the bracken to make their antlers look bigger and even chasing females at full tilt through the woods. Although Richmond’s deer are used to people, it’s best to keep at a safe distance during rutting season.
Distance from London by car: 9 miles
Opening times: November-February 7.30am-8.00pm
Another one of the Royal Parks of London, Greenwich Park is also a World Heritage Site and a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation – meaning there’s plenty of wildlife. The Wilderness section of the park is one of London’s oldest deer parks, home to red and fallow deer since it was enclosed. Although visitors can’t enter The Wilderness, there are plenty of viewpoints where you can enjoy watching the herds.
Distance from London by car: 7 miles
Opening times: 6.00am pedestrians, 7.00am car parking – 6.00pm
Red and fallow deer still roam freely throughout Bushy Park, just as they did in the days when Henry VIII hunted there. Explore the park’s beautiful waterways, gardens and grasslands, admire the autumn colours of the trees and watch the deer as they put on a performance. Bushy Park deer might seem friendly, but remember that they are wild animals and can behave unpredictably, especially during rutting season!
Distance from London by car: 13 miles
Opening times: 24hrs apart from during the deer cull September-November, when gates open at 8.00am and close at dusk Monday-Friday.
You’ll need to pre-book to visit this National Trust deer park, with a 350-strong herd of fallow and sika deer, it’s one of the best places near London to see deer in autumn. Go for a walk in the expansive grounds at Knole Park, which has plenty of paths and trails winding through open grassland and wooded areas. The deer can be seen throughout, but the main rutting stand is up on Echo Mount near the front of the house as the bucks compete for the higher ground.
Distance from London by car: 35 miles
Opening times: The park is open to the public dawn to dusk, the car park is open 10.00am - 4.00pm.
The free-roaming fallow deer at Ashridge Estate can be heard bellowing for miles around during the rut. Ashridge Estate also features ancient beech and oak woodlands, which are resplendent in their colours. Male deer fatten themselves up on fallen acorns in the weeks leading up to the mating season – when they stop eating to compete for females.
Distance from London by car: 47 miles
Opening times: The Estate is open dawn to dusk every day.
The Parkland Walk
A repurposed railway line isn’t the first place you’d think of when looking for deer in London, but The Parkland Walk in north London is home to a rare and reclusive breed of deer. Tiny muntjac deer are native to South-East Asia but have made themselves at home among the trees and grassy slopes of this picturesque nature reserve which connects Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace. While they’re not as dramatic a sight as bellowing red deer, the possibility of spotting one on your autumn walk is enough to keep you peering through the trees all the way from N4 to N22.
Distance from London by car: 6 miles
Opening times: Open 24 hours