Dyrham Deer Park walk
Dyrham Park, Dyrham, near Bath, Gloucestershire SN14 8ERRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Set within a 270-acre (110ha) deer park, the route takes in Dyrham’s extraordinary landscape, including breathtaking views of Bristol, the Welsh hills, and much closer to the centre of things, the magnificent baroque mansion. A huge variety of wildlife and many ancient features make this an unforgettable walk through history.
- Grade of walk: Trainer (all rounder)
- Type of walk: 'Historical Footsteps', 'Flora & Fauna'
- Bus stop
Start: Dyrham Deer Park car park, grid ref: ST749755
From the car park, head towards the main drive, which follows an avenue of lime trees.
When William Blathwayt set about creating his gardens here in the late 17th century, he needed to bring in many plants and trees, with typical species such as beech, elm or ash all purchased in large quantities. But Blathwayt didnt limit his planting to native varieties; he used his international contacts, gained through his day job as Surveyor and Auditor-General of Plantation Revenues, to acquire plants and seeds from British colonies abroad. Many came from Virginia, where orders included myrtles, maples, cherries and walnut. In one order made in 1693, Blathwayt received a very exotic delivery two rattle snakes in a cage.
When the drive swings left and the house comes into view carry straight on down the grass slope towards the statue.
Its hard to imagine now, but most of what you see in front of the house was once a large, elaborate and formal garden. It was designed in the 1690s with the royal gardener, George London, and featured a great cascade, an ornamental canal, terraces, fountains, sculptures and gilded gates. A detailed description survives from 1718, by Stephen Switzer, which in wonderful detail tells of the many features to be found. One was an amusing trick, whereby a tree concealed a secret pipe and sprinkler system, to give those resting in the shade a surprise shower.
At the statue of Neptune follow the path to the right. Can you see the original lead lining of the spout?
The first record for Dyrham is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for AD577. It can also be found in the estate papers for Pershore Abbey in 972 and in the Domesday Book of 1086 with an income of £12 a year. The name stems from the presence of deer, which can still be seen across the park. Before 1511 the deer of Dyrham were wild, but after that year the park was licensed and fenced. When we acquired the park there were just 35 surviving, now the herd is back to strength with around 185 animals.
The Frying Pan Pond is a drinking pool for livestock. Take the path down the hill towards the house.
Pass an active badger sett on the left. You can see their tracks as well as the bedding they throw out each night.
Before the cattle grid turn left on the footpath.
This area is planted with a wide range of trees, including Spanish chestnuts, walnut, Austrian pine, Lucombe oak, grafted manna ash, red oak and black walnut. Some of the trees are over 150 years old.
The deep trenches here, known as hollow-ways, were once the main access routes.
As you can see at this point, the majority of the deer park is bounded by Cotswold dry-stone walls, built in the 19th century to contain the deer and livestock.
Some of Dyrhams 200-strong herd of fallow deer often come to this area. The name Dyrham, first chronicled in 577AD, derives from the Saxon deor hamm meaning enclosed valley frequented by deer.
To your right, beyond the wire fence is Whitefield, which is covered in wild flowers in the summer. The meadow can be accessed from the far end of the car park.
Head back towards the car park along the lime avenue. Low undulations here are evidence of ancient ridge and furrow cultivation.
We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk
End: Dyrham Deer Park car park, grid ref: ST749755
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
- Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
- OS Map: Landranger 172
There are some steep areas along the route, which can get muddy and slippery in wet weather. Good walking boots are recommended. This walk isnt suitable for wheelchairs. Unfortunately, only assistance dogs are allowed in the deer park.
- How to get here:
By train: Bath Spa, 9 miles (14.4km)
By car: Entrance to Dyrham Park is on A46, 8 miles (12.8km) north of Bath and 2 miles (3.2km) south of Tormarton interchange (junction 18) of M4. 12 miles (19.3km) east of Bristol
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