Pete's Walks - Shorter Ashridge Walk, again

If you are considering walking this route yourself, please see my disclaimer. You may also like to see these notes about the maps.

Google map of the walk

I did this roughly 5.5 mile walk on Wednesday, 14th October, 2009. The walk was a repeat of the Shorter Ashridge Walk I did almost exactly a year ago - I repeated it now as I again hoped to see some of the numerous Fallow deer at Ashridge during their rutting season. However I did the walk this time in the afternoon rather than the morning, and the weather was quite different too, grey and almost overcast rather than sunny blue skies.

I started walking from the car park by the Bridgewater Monument just before 2pm, and returned to the car about two and a quarter hours later. I didn't see as much evidence of the deer rutting as I did last year - I only heard two bucks roaring (I didn't see either of them). But I had far more sightings of deer than I've ever had before - I lost count, but it was at least 15 or 16 separate sightings! Almost all the sightings were of small groups of does, between 1-4. The two exceptions were a large number of deer in the large pasture by the Ringshall-Northchurch road (I didn't count them, but would guess about 80, the same as the last time I saw them here), and a pair of bucks beside the avenue of beech trees that took me back to the Ringshall Northchurch road. One of these two bucks was mature (with massive antlers), the other was immature (just two small prongs). I noticed this type of pairing quite often last year, as if the older buck is showing the ropes to the junior one.

The grey skies and dull light meant that none of my attempts at photographing the deer were very successful - I've included the two best shots below. Apart from the deer, I saw a Buzzard and then a flock of Long-tailed Tits as I approached Coldharbour Farm, and earlier on a couple of Tree creepers (possibly the first ones I've seen this year).

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Looking down the drive from the Monument towards Ashridge House

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Looking back at the Bridgewater Monument

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Bridleway through Ashridge

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Bridleway through Ashridge

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Bridleway through Ashridge

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Northchurch Common

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View over part of Northchurch Common, from near Norcott Hill

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Looking out over the Bulbourne Valley, from near Norcott Hill

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Looking towards the Bulbourne Valley, from the Ringshall-Northchurch road near Northchurch

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Fallow deer near Northchurch Farm

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The path between Northchurch Farm and Coldharbour Farm

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Near Coldharbour Farm

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The path from near Coldharbour Farm

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The avenue of beech trees

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The avenue of beech trees, approaching the Ringshall-Northchurch Road again

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Fallow deer in the large pasture beside the Ringshall-Northchurch road