A progressive independent commercial business, created by Act of Parliament. Our portfolio includes the whole of Regent Street and much of St James’s in London’s West End, prime regional shopping centres, Windsor Great Park, rural land and coastline, and the UK’s seabed.
This impressive three mile long tree-lined avenue begins at the George IV Gateway at Windsor Castle and ends at the magnificent Copper Horse statue.
The most well-known image of Windsor Great Park is arguably the iconic view down the Long Walk, towards Windsor Castle at the far end. This tree-lined avenue stretches down towards the ancient fortress, illustrating the regal grandeur and Royal heritage of Windsor Great Park.
Red Deer are easily spotted, with a population of around 500 that roam freely around the Deer Park enclosure. Established by the Park Ranger for almost 70 years, H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, the current herd are all descendants of 40 hinds and two stags that were introduced in 1979. The deer are accustomed to seeing visitors walking around, and will remain fairly close, often posing nicely for photographs!
Windsor Great Park has been enjoyed by Royalty since William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hastings, and the Deer Park in particular has a rich history as it was once part of a vast Norman hunting forest. Over the centuries it was enjoyed as a game hunting reserve and riding ground, as well as for its stunning scenery. It wasn’t until William IV however, that the Great Park as we know it was opened to the public, allowing visitors from far and wide to enjoy its splendour as they do today.
Created by King Charles II, the Long Walk was introduced in 1680 – although it was not until 1683 that the avenue was extended to its current length. The iconic Copper Horse which stands guard over the Long Walk was also a later addition.
This impressive statue, depicting King George III on horseback, was erected in 1831 to commemorate his significant contribution to Windsor Great Park.
A stroll along the Long Walk and through the Deer Park is the perfect way to soak in the history of the grounds, enjoying a landscape that has barely changed in 1,000 years. Windsor Great Park and forest is home to one of the largest populations of ancient oak trees in northern Europe. In fact, there are trees still standing today that saw William of Normandy ride past on Royal hunts.
The Great Park is a place to see deer in their natural environment, but it is important to remember that they are wild animals and should be treated with respect. This is particularly the case during rutting season in the autumn when stags are fighting for territory.
The red deer rut begins in September and lasts until around early November. During this time, competing males, pumped full of testosterone, will engage in a series of behaviours aimed at showing off to the hinds (female red deer) and establishing dominance over the other stags. The master stag will mate with all the hinds in a 'harem' which could be up to 20 or so hinds. The females give birth, after a winter pregnancy, in May or June.
At this time of year, the stags can be seen walking alongside one another threateningly, in a behaviour called parallel walking. They will stamp the ground and roar fiercely. If two stags are of a similar size and these behaviours don't sufficiently establish a winner, they will literally 'lock antlers' and fight for dominance. The fights are ferocious and decisive and the winner takes all.
The rut is an amazing natural spectacle to witness, although you should stay well away from competing stags!
Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
The red deer is the largest land mammal in the UK, standing at up to 137cm tall at shoulder height. The stag's antlers are an outward display of the male deer’s masculinity. The growth of the antlers is driven by testosterone and peaks in the early autumn when the rut starts. The deer's testosterone levels drop in the early winter and the antlers eventually drop off. Regrowth begins again in the spring, usually bigger and better than the year before.
Protecting the deer
Unfortunately, many of our visitors and their dogs get unacceptably close to the deer and disturb them while they rest during the rut. This can dramatically affect their behaviour, with the wild herd not able to rest or move freely. Please help us stop the deer from becoming distressed and follow the advice below:
Keep to the main tracks
Dogs, as always, must be kept on a short lead
Keep your distance - binoculars or a long range lens are essential
Do not approach or follow the deer
These useful links will help you to make the most of your visit to the Great Park.
Whether you're a keen horticulturist looking for inspiration, a dog owner who wants an unrivalled variety of short and longer walks, or a family looking for a place to enjoy nature and history there is a membership to suit you from £1.71* per week.