After nineteen days without a day off I had the opportunity to work at home for a couple of days which I gratefully seized. I got up at six and did all my tasks early. Satisfied that I had done my quota for the day and taking out my work phone in case I needed to be contacted (I didn’t), I headed over to Dunham Massey Hall for a walk in the park on a cold, grey day. Dunham Massey Hall is a grand, Georgian mansion set in a deer park on the very edge of the city. Surrounding the park is a huge estate of farmland. It used to be owned by the Earls of Stamford and Warrington but it’s now owned and maintained by the National Trust and it is open to the public. Being so close to the city, it is a popular place to visit. Warm weekends in summer or cold, snowy ones in winter can be a bit of a nightmare but a grey Monday in early December isn’t so bad.

A panorama of Dunham Massey Hall with some of the deer park. The stable block is on the left.

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The area is very wet. The mansion and its garden is surrounded by an artificial lake which is kept in place by a dam. The path in this panorama is on top of the dam. There is a steep drop to the right of the fence.

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The holly trees were full of bright red berries in time for Christmas. Some say that this is an indication of a bad winter in store for us. I hope people don’t cut the berries for Christmas. If we do have a bad winter, the birds will need these berries in January and February.

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When I was younger I used to work here at the restaurant in the old stables up by the mansion. It was always busy. They have built this new visitor centre by the car park that contains visitor services, a new restaurant (the one I worked in is still open though), a new shop, a little garden centre and a place where you can learn about the estate. During World War 1, the mansion was used as a military hospital. As we commemorate the war, there is an exhibition of what happened in the house at the time. Sadly, it’s closed at the moment as most National Trust houses close in the winter so maintenance of the treasures inside them can be done. It reopens in February. I must go to see the exhibition.

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At the bottom of the dam there is a small pool with a fountain. You could see it but not get close to it from the path across the dam. But the new developments have included a path so you can get to it for the first time.

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The lakes and ponds on the estate attract a lot of water birds including these noisy Canada Geese. Not sure if they have flown in from Canada though, they seem to be permanent residents.

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The mansion and the stable block.

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The stable block with the clock where I used to work in the restaurant.

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The park is surrounded by a wall that keeps the deer (it is a deer park) in and stops them wrecking havoc on the surrounding farms and the nearby city. The estate contains a village and many farms housed in rather nice houses like the one you see over the wall. You can always tell an estate house because its woodwork will be painted in the estate burgundy red.  Inside the park there is another wall around the formal gardens. The gardens are beautiful but the deer would soon made short work of all the plants in there.

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This is the deer barn. The deer are fed from here. They are a commercial herd and have to be culled yearly or they would overrun the park and outstrip the food resources. Some are shot in the park and they are butchered in here. They often ended up on the menu in the restaurant.

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Some views of the park with the ancient trees. Some are coming to an end of their life and new ones are being planted to restore the original plan for the park. They surround the new trees by little fences that keep the deer away. Deer would strip the bark off and the new trees would die.

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 There weren’t many deer about yesterday. They must have been deep in the park well away from the main drive I walked on. They aren’t worried by people, they are used to us invading their space. I spotted this one, a female I think, worryingly close to the deer barn.

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