Oxford is best known for its dreaming spires, the
university colleges and boat race, but this place is far more than just a summer
time tourist destination.
It's a fantastic
place for urban nature in the autumn months.
Magdalen College - a great place for deer spotting|
Magdalen College has a fascinating history and is
also one of the best places in the city for a wildlife walk.
It was founded
originally as Magdalen Hall in 1448, and lies within hundred acres of woodlands,
walks, and gardens.
During the English Civil War Oxford was a Royalist stronghold
and became King Charles 1's capital city.
The college was an important
defence post and its tower was used as a vantage point to watch for any approaching
Magdalen was never attacked and its buildings remained unscathed
- today its architecture provides stunning backdrop to explore the autumn colours
of the trees around its grounds.
Grove is home to the College's 300-year-old herd of deer - Fallow Deer have a
long association with Oxford's Magdalen College going back to the 18th Century.
people think that you have to visit remote places to watch deer in the rutting
season but Oxford is one of several exceptions.
Today there are several
dozen deer living in the grove with the male bucks fighting it out for the attention
of the female fallows.
While you're in Oxford it's also worth keeping an
eye out for a very different type of deer that makes an occasional appearance
The smaller Muntjac Deer were introduced into England in the
19th Century from China, and have been in Oxfordshire since they escaped from
Woburn Park in the 1920's.
The Muntjac is our smallest British deer, barely
the size of a large dog, and sometimes it's even mistaken for a fox.
walk on wild side
is a city that is proud of its flora and fauna - it even has its own 'tree trail'
where visitors can check out some of the city's oldest and most usual specimens.
Ancient trees can be found in many places including Magdalen College Deer
Park, South Park, and at St Mary's Iffley.
The latter boasts the oldest
tree in Oxford - a Yew tree - which is thought to be 1,600 years old, double the
age of the church it adjoins.
Magdalen College's walks are renowned for
their peaceful atmosphere, removed from the noise of the nearby city.
college's feeling of seclusion results from its location outside the city walls,
which meant that early in its history it had plenty of space in which to expand.
Grove or Deer Park together with Madgalen's Water Walks around the River Cherwell
were both created in the 16th Century.
One of the best known trees at Magdalen
is the Great Plane Tree located between New Buildings and the President's Lodgings.
This striking tree was planted in 1801 by Henry Phillpotts, the Junior
Bursar at the college.
is also a good place for a twilight safari and one secretive but common creature
stands out - the Hedgehog.
Even late in the autumn, there may be a few of
these shy creatures still around.
The average adult Hedgehog has around
5,000-7,000 spines which are hollow hairs made stiff with keratin.
the quills of a Porcupine they can't easily be removed although if the animal
gets sick or stressed a hedgehog can lose its spines.
on a Hedgehog hunt