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Where to see red deer in the Lake District

Martindale, a valley on the opposite side of the lake, is home to one of the oldest red deer herds in the UK. During the mating season from mid-October to early November you can climb the surrounding fells at sunset, with a flask of coffee and a teacake or two, and listen to the rut that has happened here for over 300 years.

Red deer, side view on short grass and heather.

The deer reserve

Red deer have lived on the fells around Ullswater for over 300 years. The Dalemain Estate owns the sanctuary, pledging to keep preserve the herd for conservation purposes. At the furthest end of the valley from the hotel is The Nab, home to the oldest native red deer herd in England.

The rut

The rut is the red deer mating season, which begins in October and runs in to early November. A raucous affair, with stags bellowing their mating calls, staking their territory and fighting for the prize of a hind (female red deer). They are most active at dawn and dusk.

Spotting a red deer

Mature male red deer, known as stags, have the distinctive russet-red fur and large antlers of the classic highland deer. They are huge animals, weighing up to 190kg. Females are slightly smaller, no antlers, but with distinctive white fur on their rump.


It is important to stay a reasonable distance from the deer at all times, however if you drive from the hotel to Hallin Fell, you can approach by foot. Parking at Martindale church, you can head to the ridge on the left of the valley. Climbing up the east side, above Gowk Hill, you may find a good spot there to watch a listen.

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