Calke's red and fallow deer

Fallow deer at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire

The Calke Estate expands over 600 acres of historic parkland, a third of which holds the important status of National Nature Reserve – including the 67-acre deer park, which is home to Calke’s herd of red and fallow deer.

Red and fallow deer

Calke’s deer herd includes 30 red deer, named after their distinctive red coats, and around eighty fallow deer. Fallow deer are smaller than reds and have a variety of colourings – all of which can be seen in Calke’s herd.

The most common colour in fallow deer is tan or fawn, with white speckles and a black horseshoe at the top of the hind legs. You might also spot a paler colour, known as menil, in Calke’s fallow herd. In this pattern, the horseshoe on the rear is brown. Fallow deer can also be entirely white or black, with no markings at all.

Young deer exploring the deer park at Calke
Baby deer in spring at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire
Young deer exploring the deer park at Calke

Seasonal highlights in the deer park

During May and June, the fallow fawns and red calves are born. When they’re very young, they often hide in the bracken until they’re brave enough to explore the rest of the deer park.

Around October, the deer enter rutting season. The rut gives rise to spectacular behaviour from the stags, who can be seen sizing up their opponents and wallowing in mud baths. They’re also very vocal during rutting season – listen out for bellowing roars and grunts, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot clashing antlers as the stags fight for dominance. 

A stag bellowing during rutting season
Hear the stags bellowing at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire
A stag bellowing during rutting season

The deer shelter

Just off the original driveway stands the ruins of the deer shelter. Built in 1774, the deer shelter provided a winter feeding point for the deer which the Harpur-Crewe family could see from the house.

Nowadays the deer shelter is preserved in a state of ruin, but you can still explore it on foot. When Calke is open again, download the deer shelter walk and discover historic sights and sounds.

The preserved 18th-century deer shelter at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Calke Park deer shelter walk

This walk takes you through a nature reserve where some of the oldest trees in Europe can be found.