Auckland Deer Park

I have been amazed with the beautiful sunny weather the UK has been having recently. Not that I have needed much of an excuse to go out and enjoy the beautiful places close to me. I cannot believe how many hidden gems are in England. I didn’t realise there was an Auckland in England, I thought I’d have to go to New Zealand to visit.

Deer have to be some of my favourite animals. I’ve been lucky enough to see them in Raby Castle and also Studley Royal (Fountains Abbey). Needless to say, when I heard of the Deer Park I couldn’t resist visiting. Auckland town centre is very pretty and very old. Currently, there is major archaeological excavation work going on outside the castle, so you can’t go in. The Auckland Project is currently planning some exciting events so I think a few things will be opening some time in 2021.

The parking in the town centre is free. Which allows the short walk through the Castle gates into the 150 acre parkland. Sadly, I couldn’t see much of the castle due to the work going on. It is similar to Raby castle just smaller and built to be a hunting residence. Though that did not deter me, I was here to search for the deer after all.

The park itself has three main walking routes; a short 0.9km, 1.9km or a longer 4.6km walk. I didn’t follow the route so ended up doing part of the middle and longer walks. As I was searching for deer, I chose to stick to the outer edges or the park. I didn’t realise until after my walk, there is a map you can download which has tons of information about each route and some interesting things to look out for (I’ve linked it here).

The park is dated back to the middle ages with some aspects being added from the 17th century. Such as an Ice House, a great example of an old fashioned refrigerator. I chickened out and didn’t go inside, instead I stood on top of it. When crossing Trevor Bridge, I did notice Bishop Trevor’s initials carved into the stone work. His graffiti has lasted since 1757.

Though, the ancient stonework around the park was incredible to see, my favourite part was the old oak trees. They had many fun branches to sit on and a few elusive residents that I was lucky enough to spot. I saw a grey squirrel, which I’ll admit is a popular sight here but is cute nonetheless. I even managed to spot a Green Woodpecker (sadly no photo). Happily pecking away at an ancient tree wearing his red hat and black moustache. The trees shape the landscape and some provide great views across the surrounding areas.

My favourite view was from the top of the park. Looking over to the Newton Cap Viaduct and the North Pennines in the distance. Though it is quite a hill it is 100% worth it. Especially if you are lucky enough to find one of the small silver pigs.

In the middle of the trees lies a Deer House. An ancient building originally made in 1760 as a feeding place and shelter for the deer. I decided this was the best place to go to visit the deer. The building is along a well trodden path so is easy to find. It was the first building of its kind, as the English mainly saw deer as something to hunt. But Auckland decided they would make sure the deer were also well housed.

Only down side is the serious lack of deer. It was only after my visit I learned the animals no longer live in Auckland Deer Park, but I still do not know why. I like to think they now live in Raby Castle grounds which is bigger and safer for the animals. I love how the building is being looked after. The beautiful flowering pink bushes are one of my favourite trees in the park. I did climb it which I now regret as the bush was rather spikey.

The riverside was nice and flat to walk along but you can only walk along one side. There is the possibility of seeing otters here. I think you all know what I am about to say …. Guess who couldn’t find the otters (once again). Even without the otters it was a lovely place to wander. Both my photographer and I decided that it would be a lovely place for a picnic. I also think it will be a lovely place to visit in the autumn when the leaves begin to change colour.

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