Tales from the Trees: Harewood Housewoods, Leeds

Stags stalk the sun-dappled grounds of this stately home

The fallow stag slips along the wooded ridge. Little more than a silhouette, it morphs out of the trunks of sycamore, ash and pine before blending into them again. Antler becomes indistinguishable from branch, body from trunk. Each stride I take, it matches me, shepherding me away from the herd.

It is not the first majestic sight I've seen today. Harewood House near Leeds is one of the UK's finest country houses. But on this gloriously warm afternoon I'm enjoying an entrance-fee-free stroll on the edge of its Capability Brown-crafted landscape, among the woodland that frames the stately home.

In between mirage-like appearances of this balustraded Georgian beauty on the horizon, I squint up at red kites hanging in the blue, drifting lazily to and fro from their roost in a ragged pine. The woods are tiered with colour, sun-dappled lime-green ash and beech canopies above; a haze of bright purple willowherb and Himalayan balsam flowers beneath.

The path winds through sheep-filled fields, deciduous dells and dark seams of evergreens before reminders of the grandeur of the Harewood estate emerge again from the trees. I pass the great redbrick wall of an old vegetable garden, then a beautiful but abandoned lodge beside a stream.

There has been a deer park in these parts since medieval times, although wild deer ranged freely here in the days of wolves, bears and lynx. Nowadays two prime herds roam Harewood, the reds and the more ornamental fallows.

As the stag on the ridge continues to keep in step with me, I realise it is just as exhilarating to be stalked as it is to stalk. I glimpse his wonderful fawn-coloured coat with mottled white spots and thick, chunky palmate antlers. A few more steps and I look up to see he's gone, melting noiselessly back into the woods.

*The Harewood House Woods Walk (follow The Walking Englishman's route; walkingenglishman.com) is 4.8 miles and starts just below the arched gateway to Harewood itself. Harewood House is well signposted from the A61. It is nine miles from Leeds City Station; the 36 bus service (harrogatebus.co.uk) runs every 15 minutes between Leeds and Harrogate. East Coast runs regular services from London to Leeds (eastcoast.co.uk). Overnight across the road from the house at The Harewood Arms Hotel (0113 288 6566; harewoodarmshotel.co.uk) where doubles start at £80 including breakfast. Dinner is simple but hearty. For finer dining, head down to The White Hart in Pool-In-Wharfedale (0113 203 7862; thewhitehartpool.co.uk).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home