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Discover the estate at Lyme

Grandparents swinging a child by the arms and legs in the parkland at Lyme Park, Cheshire
Walking in the parkland at Lyme Park, Cheshire | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

If you are in need of some fresh air this spring, come and explore over 1,400 acres of historic parkland. Head out to the wider estate for walks through woodland and across the moor for far-reaching views. Seek out the built structures dotted through the landscape for some of the best views. There’s plenty of wildlife and nature to see along the way.

Help us protect nature between April and July

Spring and early summer is a time when birds travel near and far to nest at Lyme and deer and highland cows are calving. Help us to protect the wildlife who call Lyme home by keeping to paths and designated cycle trails and keeping your dog on a lead everywhere in the parkland, aside from the 6km of dedicated off lead space.

Find historic buildings in the Landscape

The Cage

Structures were built at strategic spots around the park to draw the eye across the landscape. An iconic view at Lyme, the original Cage was built by the warrior priest, Sir Piers V, in 1524.

It's had many uses over the centuries its name reportedly comes from its use in the 17th century as a holding prison for poachers awaiting trial.

It was rebuilt in the 1730s as part of Giacomo Leoni’s works to the house. Leoni played up its fortress-like appearance but also made it more hospitable, possibly so that it could be used as a banqueting room.

Later still, the Cage became a home for estate workers, though it must have been a hard experience living at the top of this windswept hill.

The Lantern

The Lantern is another Lyme landmark. The top part of the sandstone tower is believed to originally have sat above the north archway of the house and was probably placed on the hill next to the woods in the 1720s. The view from the Lantern looks out over the park and the Cheshire plain.

It also creates a line of sight that leads the eye from the Dining Room windows, over the gardens and to the east. It is said that if Lord Newton could see the Lantern clearly from the Dining Room, it was good enough weather for hunting.

Paddock Cottage

Built from stone quarried on the estate, Paddock Cottage sits high in the south of the park. The interior is plain apart from a decorative heraldic panel, Sir Piers Legh IX's coat of arms. Paddock Cottage’s position, with direct sight line to the Cage, and ornate overmantel implies the building was used for ‘showing off’ to guests – possibly used for dining after the hunt. It was later used as a dwelling for estate workers.

Visitors walking past the Lantern at Lyme Park, Cheshire
Enjoy a walk at Lyme this summer | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

Summer walks

With acres of woodland, moorland and meadows, Lyme is the perfect place to explore on a walk this summer. Take in glorious views in a quieter area of the park on the Lantern walk, or follow the Paddock Cottage walk to find Knightslow Wood, Pursfield Wood and Drinkwater Meadow. Dogs on leads are welcome and downloadable maps and step-by-step guides are available for each walk.

Guided walks

Join a guided walks to find out what makes Lyme's estate so special. Book a space on free walks throughout the year such as 'Water Divining' or 'Walk the Walls at Lyme', and our knowledgeable volunteers will show you some of the best bits of the estate or buy tickets to discover 'the Dawn Chorus' in Spring and 'the Deer Rut' and 'fantastic fungi' in Autumn.

More information can be found under the 'What's on' section in the 'Things to see and do' tab on this website.

Wildlife at Lyme

The woodlands, parkland and moorland are home to a vast amount of wildlife. Lyme is home to a herd of Red Deer as well as Highlands Cows, owls, bats, stoats and more.

Birds at Lyme

In spring birds are travelling near and far to nest at Lyme, and not all of them in trees. Many birds nest on the ground and it’s really important to avoid disturbing them. During your walk in the estate you may hear their distinctive calls and song. Here's some of our favourites:

Skylark, Alauda Arvensis

Skylarks are ground nesting birds that are on the red list due to dramatic population decline. You will often see males singing a classic birdsong and hovering high in the sky above the moorland, which used to display to female prospective mates

Woodcock, Scolopax rusticola

While walking through the woods, you may also flush out a woodcock. The Latin name is Scolopax rusticola, meaning 'rural dweller'.

Their camouflage plumage makes them very hard to see as they sit tight among the leaf litter during the day. Only at night do they give themselves up when they feed in open fields using their long bill to probe for worms.

Buzzard, Buteo buteo

Look out for these birds of prey when you are walking through Lyme. They are large birds that often glide on air currents with their huge wings outstretched, looking for small mammals. Listen out for their distinctive cat-like call.

Wood Warbler, Phylloscopus sibiltrix

The genus Phylloscopus comes from the Greek for 'leaf' and 'seeker' and the specific sibilatrix is latin for 'whister.' Listen out while walking in West Park, Elmehurst and Lantern Woods for a distinctive clicking sound that becomes a rapid trill.

Willow Warbler, Phylloscopus trochilus

Willow warblers nest on the edges of woodland where there is plenty of scrub, often near West Park Drive and Elmehurst Wood. They lay their eggs in a nest of moss, grass, twigs and plant fibre, which is padded with fine feathers and hair. The nest tends to have a roof and side entrance, much like a small oven, and is built very low to the ground. Listen out for a distinctive warble ending with a flourish.

Highland Cows

Lyme is home to a 'fold' of highland cattle. These docile animals are perfectly suited to harsh conditions at Lyme during the winter and happily graze outside throughout the year without the need for additional feeding.

The fold move around and graze different areas of the estate at different times of the year. Through the summer they eat and trample the more dominant grass species which gives other more delicate species the opportunity to thrive.

During winter, they eat the dead grass which not only improves the habitat but also reduces the risk of moorland fires in spring.

Find out how conservation grazing helps the estate at Lyme

Red deer

There have been deer at Lyme for over 600 years and their presence has played a pivotal role in the history of the estate. In the parkland they can be surprisingly hard to spot amongst trees and it's possible to pass very close to them without seeing them. Deer are naturally cautious animals that move in small groups and avoid humans. We recommend walking quietly and slowly on paths and well-used tracks to give the deer plenty of space. Dogs can scare off the deer so, for the best chance of spotting them, leave your four-legged friend at home. If you are bringing your dog, keep them on a short lead.

Stags (males) weigh in at up to 240kg and stand 1.3m high at the shoulder. Mature males in peak breeding condition are around eight years old and can have a crown of antlers with up to 16 points, known as a ‘monarch’. Hinds (females) are smaller and don’t have antlers.

The sexes only mix during the rut and the winter period. Over the summer stags live in their own groups. Hinds will be single before calving, then come together in small family groups or bigger single sex groups after calving.

Lyme's deer throughout the year

Spring and Early Summer

April to July

Casting begins

In April and May the deer start the process of casting. This is where their old antlers fall off. You’ll probably see some bucks with just one antler as they often don’t lose both at the same time.

 

Calves are born

The new calves are born between April and July – they're able to stand up within minutes of being born. The natural instinct of the deer is to protect their young, so it’s even more important at this time that you give them space, especially if you have dogs with you.

Calves are rarely seen in the first few weeks of their life. Female deer will give birth to their young in the long grass and will leave them alone in the grass, only returning to feed them. This is to reduce the risk of predators becoming aware of their whereabouts. If you do see a calf on its own please don’t get too close or try to touch the fawn, as there’s a risk that the mother may then reject it. 

A red deer stag with large antlers looing head on at the camera while standing on the moors at Longshaw
In spring, the process of casting begins where the deer shed their antlers | © National Trust / Kev Dunnington

Veteran trees

Lyme is home to a number of veteran trees of different species. The oldest oak tree is around 550 years old. They are vital because they support so many animals, insects and fungi – sometimes up to 260 species.

Be tick aware

Whether you're in your garden or in the outdoors be tick aware. Ticks are small, spider-like creatures that feed on the blood of animals, including people. They don't fly or jump, rather wait on vegetation for something to pass by.

Avoid ticks by walking on clearly defined paths to avoid brushing against vegetation, wear light-coloured clothes so ticks can be spotted and brushed off, and use repellents such as DEET. It's always good practice to carry out a tick check when you get home.

Find out more on the UK gov website

Two deer at Lyme Park in Cheshire with the house in the background

Discover more at Lyme Park

Find out when Lyme Park is open, how to get here, things to see and do and more.

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