Early-ish on Sunday morning (6 November) three club members - Eadaoin Flynn, Sue Berry and Stephen Dutch - gathered outside Stephen's flat in Bolton for the drive to Dunham Massey, which is a National Trust property near Altrincham. As it was a sunny Sunday - probably one of the last this year - the car park was already filling up by the time we got there - and Stephen's car had developed an interesting rattling noise. Entry to the house and gardens is pricey - around £10 - but admission to the general grounds and deer park can be had for just the price of car parking, which was £5. We started by investigating the sounds of what seemed like a minor riot by the moat. It turned out to be some geese, swans and seagulls getting way too excited by the arrival of lots of small children (also way too excited) with vast amounts of stale bread. The ensuing activity provided lots of opportunities to capture shots of the birds flying, hissing and jumping in and out of the water.
When we'd finished watching the birds, Stephen was ready to head off away from the crowds in search of some deer, but Eadaoin and Sue, remembering that an army marches best on a full stomach, decided to check out the restaurant before heading any further. The food was good, but pricey and the restaurant was very crowded. Once refreshed, more photos were taken, mainly of foliage, fungi and the odd swan, the deer proving somewhat elusive. We also had a bit of a chat with a Ray Mears lookalike park ranger, who sadly did not invite us back to his handmade shelter for a tasty meal of fungi and worms.....
Once our powers of concentration returned we did manage to get some shots of a stag with one antler, despite him deciding to sit down in the long grass at a crucial moment. We later we got some shots of more deer with a fully-antlered stag, although these were further in the undergrowth of the deer sanctuary (from which visitors are currently banned, it being the rutting season). Stephen didn't mention meeting any Ray Mears lookalikes (or their female equivalents) but he was luckier in encountering the deer and got some excellent close-up shots.
When we'd exhausted the photo opportunities, and ourselves (the park is large, but thankfully it is also fairly flat) we met up at the gate for the trip home. Interestingly cars were continuing to flow steadily into the car park even though the park was only open for another half an hour or so. Dunham Massey is clearly not the place for a quiet weekend stroll if you're the solitary type.
Despite some further rattling noises from Stephen's car we made it back to Bolton safely before dark ready for a long night of photo editing.
Write up by Eadaoin Flynn
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