With the arrival of October, for red deer it means only one thing, mating season. If you’ve not yet watched the marvel of competing stags, get your walking boots on and head for the peak district. With its ancient woodlands and tumbling streams, if you’re prepared for a little hike (around 6 miles) you’re in for treat.
The eastern edges on Big Moore are found within the Southern Area of the Peak Districts National Park, and is particularly special for the diverse wildlife that reside there. The red deer are just one of many species to be found there, but during the October months, the UK’s largest mammal steals the show. This territorial species herds in large numbers on the Big Moore. Stags begin to return to the area during mid-September for the beginning of the rutting season (breeding season), through to mid-October. Here they can be seen competing over the herd of females, and if your unfortunate enough to not be able to see them, you will most likely be able to hear them roaring.
The estate is open all day to be explored, however the tea room and shop open at 10:30 and close at 17:00. There is also a pub at the bottom of the trail called the The Grouse Inn. Dogs are permitted, provided they are kept on a lead at all times, but bare in mind they won’t be leaving as clean as they went. There is a small incline of rocky terrain to climb, so it’s worth noting that this particular trail isn’t suitable for wheelchairs or people who have restricted mobility. I will leave a link to a map and trail details here.
It’s definitely advised to check the weather for the Big Moore before you leave to ensure you are appropriately clothed. That being said, even if its showing to be dry, it’s worth taking a waterproof coat or jacket just in case. This of year its quite nippy once you reach the top, with a strong loud wind adding to it, so layers including a hat and gloves are recommended. You might feel the warmth during your climb but once you’ve reached the top it’s a different story. Regarding footwear, wear something sturdy, waterproof and that you don’t mind getting muddy. I wouldn’t advise wellies, purely because they aren’t great ‘climbing’ shoes and unless you’ve got room for a few layers of socks, your feet will get cold very quickly.
Depending on how long you intend to stay and how much you plan to explore, I suggest taking some food and drink along with you, including a hot flask. If you’re someone who doesn’t mind the cold then all these ‘keep warm’ suggestions may not apply to you, but if your anything like me (who stood there shaking), I’d strongly suggest considering them.
Once you have reached the top you will come to a hole in the wall (as described in the link to the trail details above) where you can go left or right. At this point, if you are visiting as a group, it’s best to keep the volume to a minimum. I’m not saying don’t talk at all, but with the loud wind ringing through your ears it can be difficult enough trying to hear any deer roaring. Not to mention, the deer blend in well with the surroundings, and if there’s one close by, any loud noises may scare it away. Adding to the point of them being well camouflaged, binoculars are a useful tool to take with you. Even if you manage to spot a herd in the distance, you won’t be able to get too close without them moving on, so binoculars are your best bet for a close viewing.
If you enjoy taking photos, and are wondering whether or not it’s worth carrying a camera, I’d say yes. Not only for pictures of the deer, but also to capture the view. If you do get any pictures from your visit, be sure to tag and share them with me to be featured on my pages (links to my social profiles can be found at the bottom of the page).