Monday, 26 November 2012

Estate Apprentice

A herd of spectators head up to the feeding station...
This November the ranger team held three "Estate Apprentice" events here at Lyme Park. They offered children (a.k.a. mini-rangers) a chance to experience first hand what it's like to feed our herd of fallow deer.

...Meanwhile ranger Al fends off the fallow deer...
We've been overwhelmed by the interest the events have attracted. Numbers have ranged from 60 up to 170! A fee of £2 per child was proferred, with the donations going towards funding the fallow deers' winter feed.   
                    ...Until it's time for the Estate Apprentices to fill the troughs,
                         under the watchful eye of ranger Doug...
Once the apprentices had filled the troughs, the deer jostled for position. The pecking order was nervously negotiated through a combination of clashing antlers and territorial posturing. The estate apprentices (along with their parents, of course) were treated to front row seats for this fallow feeding frenzy.

Fallow deer FACTFILE:
  • Latin name: Dama dama
  • The Fallow deer are an ornamental deer, originally from the Mediterranean
  • They were introduced to British parks and forests by the Normans in the 11th century
  • The original Lyme Park herd were present from the 17th century, but died out in the early 20th century.
  • The current herd have been present at Lyme Park since the early 1980’s.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Ash dieback

It’s not often that countryside issues make the headlines, but a recent disease affecting ash trees has triggered widespread media coverage. The extent of publicity this epidemic has received is encouraging in the sense that it is a demonstration of the high regard in which we hold our trees here in Britain. However, this is the silver lining on what could potentially be a bleak cloud looming over the future of our countryside. 

A mature ash tree

So what is ash dieback? And why should we be concerned?

Ash dieback, or Chalara fraxinea, is a damaging fungal disease that has recently been discovered in Britain. It has infected up to 90% of ash trees in Denmark, and 80% in Poland, and the potential for establishment in the UK is classed as “very high”. According to the Forestry Commission, “The disease causes leaf loss and crown dieback in affected trees, and usually leads to tree death.” Dr Simon Pryor, Director of Natural Environment at the National Trust, said: “This disease poses a major threat to special places throughout the country and is potentially more devastating to the landscape than the loss of Elm in the 1970s.”

To give the importance of ash (or Fraxinea excelsior if you’re feeling ambitious) as a species some context; there are an estimated 80 million ash trees in the UK, making up around 30% of our tree population. Ash is an extremely important species in terms of its wildlife and timber value. It’s for these reasons that a serious outbreak of Chalara fraxinea could have devastating consequences both environmentally and economically.

As I write this, there have been no reports of ash dieback at Lyme Park. However, we are keeping a close eye on our ash trees for any symptoms of this disease.  

So if you see any ash trees while you’re walking around Lyme Park with any of the following symptoms, please get in touch with the ranger team by emailing:
  • Dead branches
  • Blackening of leaves which often hang off the tree
  • Discoloured stems in a diamond shape where a leaf was attached
Unfortunately, some of the symptoms above are easier to see when the trees are in leaf, which makes identifying infected trees over the winter more difficult. However, lesions (such as in the photographs below) centred on dead side shoots are the best indicator of ash dieback at this time of year.

For more information visit:

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Deer in the dark

Deer crossing the main drive in the early evening

As recent visitors to Lyme Park may have noticed, with the nights drawing in, red deer can often be seen coming down from Cage Hill and feeding lower down the slopes towards the main drive.

Please bear this in mind, particularly from late afternoon onwards, and drive with extra caution!

If you have any photographs of Lyme Park's deer that you'd like to share on the blog, please send them to me at

Friday, 9 November 2012

Autumn at Lyme Park

Autumn at Lyme Park

Early November at Lyme Park; a time of glorious Autumn colour, dropping temperatures, and flasks of hot tea. The daylight hours are dwindling, and the animals of Lyme Park (including the ranger team!) are hard at work using the ever shortening working window to prepare for the long winter ahead.
The red and fallow deer are taking a well-earned post-rut breather. After months of competing over hinds and does, the stags and bucks can often be found alone in November. Sitting motionless for long periods of time, they break from their daydreams only to graze and chew the cud. Like the busy birds that are feasting on berries, seeds and nuts, the deer are building up their fat reserves for the cold months to come.

While we’re on the subject of deer, the fallow deer sanctuary has now been closed to the public until February 2013. This gives the deer a chance to rest without fear of disturbance, and also gives the lime avenue a chance to repair itself after a season of heavy footfall.

Red deer graze beneath Lyme Cage

The onset of winter brings with it a new workload for the rangers. Park maintenance is a priority, blowing leaves off roads, paths and the Crow Wood playscape, strimming roadside verges, fencing, pathwork, thinning out plantations, the work never stops! Tasks pile up like fallen leaves, quite literally. No sooner have the leaves been blown than they have been renewed with a fresh dusting of autumn’s very own confetti.
Talking of leaves, the trees at Lyme are simply breath-taking at this time of year. Their leaves fall in varying shades of the season: the buttery glow of sycamore and maple, the fire-tinged tips of oak, the burned bronze of beech, the dappled amber of silver birch. Strewn on the drives, the paths, the woodland floors and the house lawns. Stripped of their summer clothes, Lyme’s trees are being slowly but surely unveiled, soon to be stripped back to bare branches and silhouettes.

The distinctive autumn glow of a mature beech tree
Autumn is not only a season of stunning natural aesthetics; there are certain sounds that sum up this ephemeral season at Lyme Park too. By 5p.m, the sun has set, and night sounds emanate from the dusky gloom. The wind chases shadows through the avenues of trees; solitary stags unleash gut-wrenching roars; and somewhere from the depths of Knights Low wood a tawny owl emits a soulful hoot.
The park is open from 8a.m until 6p.m until next March, which gives you plenty of time to take enjoy an autumnal stroll. And what better way is there to stave off the advancing chill of winter than a brisk walk?! There are free walk leaflets available from the information kiosk in the car park; whether you’re after a short amble or a longer walk. A post-potter winter warmer in the way of soup or a hot brew in the timber yard cafe (open from 11a.m until 4p.m) will send you on your way in style.


Welcome to the Lyme Park ranger blog!
Situated in Disley, just south of Stockport, Lyme Park sits on the northern fringes of the Peak District and on the eastern edge of the Cheshire plain. This 1,400 acre deer park brings the wild, rugged nature of the uplands to the outskirts of Greater Manchester. 

The estate surrounding the majestic house and gardens  is a structured mosaic of parkland, woodland, pastures, grassland and moorland, and has been in the hands of the National Trust since 1946. Lyme Park has two species of deer; red and fallow.
We’ll use this space to keep you updated with information about events, activities and general ranger related topics at Lyme Park.

If you have any queries regarding the ranger team, Please feel free to post a message or get in touch by emailing me at:

For information about the house and gardens, visit