We got out for our first longish walk this year, a year which we started off by catching covid. Oh joy! Luckily for both Wil and I, our experience of the virus was pretty tame. We both had colds, runny noses and sneezed alot. We watched alot of Netflix. The End. Though I must admit, it was good to take our boots off when we finished this hike, it tired us out more than we care to admit….
Paythorne is a small village ( well more of a hamlet really) between Gisburn in the Ribble Valley and Hellifield in North Yorkshire. Theres not much there except a pub, a tiny Methodist church and a large Caravan Park. At the moment there is definitely some sort of dispute in the village regarding a proposal to extend the caravan park. Everywhere you look there are orange signs saying ‘ Say No To More Caravans ‘ , I think there are more signs than houses.
We parked in the village car park opposite the pub and set off. The walk is one of bridleways, fields and country lanes and is 6 or so miles long.
Unbeknown to me until recent times , the Gisburne Park estate in Gisburn is home to a herd of Sika Deer. The deer roam free and are wild, they are often spied in the local area. I had never seen one though…until now.
Sika deer were introduced into the UK from the Far East in 1860. And they were brought over to Gisburn from Ireland by Thomas Lister ‘ Lord Ribblesdale’ in the 19th century. The parks fallow deer herd had declined and it was hoped that the Sikas would make good sport. Lord Ribblesdale had a band of buckhounds used for hunting deer. All was looking good , but the imports were having none of it. They didn’t like hanging out in the open, and would make a dash into the trees if disturbed. Soon the Lord’s buckhounds were disbanded and the sika deer became feral. Their descendants roam the estate today.
Wandering round Gisburne Park early morning is a delight. Some areas are private but there are public footpaths through the grounds too. All was calm and peaceful and Hugo was able to have some off lead time. We saw several buzzards including one that landed in a tree just metres away and disturbed a long billed bird that flew out from the edge of the woodland into the fields.
Most exciting though was coming almost face to face with a stag, one of Lord Ribblesdales Sika Deer descendants! He stood his ground for quite a while, which gave me ample opportunity to take a couple of photos. As we quietly passed, he stamped his hoof and turned into the trees.
As Sika deer are an introduced species they are not protected wildlife. Their numbers are not encouraged, especially if in an area where there may also be native Red deer, which they sometimes breed with. As far as I’m aware, there are no red deer here so the sika are safe. 🙏
Northeast Allie is a blog that reflects influences from the Philadelphia area and the regions around it. It explores perspectives on life, encouragement, travel, wellness, and local living so that you can really enjoy this unique community!