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04 December 2019

Feed the Deer at Whitworth Hall Deer Park

Saturday morning was bright and clear and cold, and we were going on an adventure.

Our end goal was a walk up Slitt Wood in Westgate because there are waterfalls all up the trail to the ruins of Low Slitt Mine, and I love waterfalls. But we wanted to stop off somewhere a bit different on the way, because we had seen someone in a local walking group post pictures and it looked amazing. Our first destination? Whitworth Hall near Spennymoor. I wanted to see the deer.

Feeding the Deer at Whitworth Hall Deer Park

It was really easy to get there by car, Google Maps led us straight to the car park. But even if we hadn't had our technological companion to lead the way, Whitworth Hall was well signposted. The drive once you turn in to the property is long and sweeping and really pretty, not quite a single track but close.

We arrived at about ten in the morning, and it was easy to get parked opposite the deer park - there are not a lot of spaces so I would recommend getting there early. We made our way around the corner to the hotel reception, and warmed ourselves by the log fire as we waited to buy some feed. It was £3 for two bags of feed, and they were pretty big - considering parking and is free and there is no entry cost, this was a real bargain. We were told that we wouldn't be able to go into the park itself, but could feed the deer through the fence, and we're assuming this is because it is the tail end of rutting season here in the UK. Safety first!

The deer knew what was coming and we had a crowd of easily thirty deer waiting for us by the time we reached the fence, with more coming over as we fed them. We managed to space it out quite a bit, throwing a few handfuls to the deer at the back and hand feeding those closest to us. I did feel a little bit sorry for the smaller ones at the back so we split us and I sneakily fed them further up the fence while my boyfriend fed the antler boys.

Avoiding antlers turned into a skill for us, as those boys were hungry and pushed straight to the front. But they were gentle as we fed them and we even managed to stroke them through the fence while they ate from our hands. They're so trusting and friendly and curious, and it made for some excellent photograph opportunities, especially with the low sun shining through the trees.

It was a pretty messy experience! The deer had surprisingly muddy noses given that the ground was frozen solid, and I'm so glad we have provisions in the car for cleaning ourselves up after. There was a wedding setting up so we didn't want to get in the way by asking to wash our hands in the toilets.

It was great fun, the park is stunning and dramatic and picturesque, and the deer were adorable. I can't wait to go back again, and I feel like this will be a semi-regular treat for us.

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