Why Studley Royal Park in Yorkshire is one of the UK's best places to see the autumn deer rut

Antlers clashing in a wild display of dominance as one male tries to assert itself over another. It’s a majestic sight which people come from far and wide to witness.

The Deer Rut – annual mating season – takes place in autumn and can prove a magnificent showcase of our largest land mammals, the Red Deer.

Studley Royal Park in the Skell Valley near Ripon is one such attraction where the antics of these beautiful creatures can be seen into November.

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The park has three different species of deer – red, sika and fallow, all with their own particular characteristics. Red Deer are the largest in the park, are indigenous to the UK and usually a dark reddish brown.

Red deer stag fight during the rutting seasonRed deer stag fight during the rutting season
Red deer stag fight during the rutting season

The male is called a stag – who when rutting are often pumped up with testosterone – and boast a large set of antlers resembling tree branches. The female is called a hind, while the young are referred to as calves.

Studley Royal Park was named Yorkshire’s first World Heritage Site in 1986, and is set beside the ruins of Fountains Abbey.

The grounds, now run by the National Trust, once contained the Tudor manor house known as Studley Royal House, however was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1716. It was rebuilt about 50 years later, but the reconstruction was also damaged by fire in 1946 and then demolished. Today, what remains is the stable block, built between 1728 and 1732, which is now a private home.

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The park also has what UNESCO describes as “one of the most magnificent Georgian water gardens ever created”, designed by John and William Aislabie in the 18th century. There is also St Mary’s Church, commissioned in 1870 to commemorate the Marchioness of Ripon’s brother, who was allegedly murdered in Greece.