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Deer, deer, deer - what a lot of mouths to feed!

22nd January 2013 Print

Despite being closed for the season, a top Lakeland caravan park is having to accommodate a raft of extra guests - none of which are paying, and all of which need constant feeding.

The unexpected visitors to Skelwith Fold Caravan Park in Ambleside, Cumbria, arrived shortly after a prolonged spell of mild weather turned to freezing Arctic conditions in mid-January.

As the temperature plummeted and snow fell, red and roe deer plus other wildlife led the friendly invasion of the 130-acre park, coming down from surrounding high ground to find shelter and food.

The extra animals and birds, however, mean that the park has now had to step up its winter feeding programme to ensure fair shares for all.

"Skelwith Fold always plays host to an amazingly wide number of different of different species, including red squirrels and badgers," said park director Henry Wild.

"For that reason, we have always had winter feeding stations throughout the grounds which we keep regularly topped up after holidaymakers leave in November.

"Until halfway through January, we recorded below average consumption of the mixed wildlife diet we supply, but the sudden arrival of winter has now changed all that.

"The park now has many more deer than normal, and there are many groups strolling along the paths and clustered in the woodland.

"It's a lovely spectacle, but it's too early for them to find much in the way of buds or leaves.

"Although the park does not re-open until March, we are fully staffed - and everyone has been asked to help keep a look-out for the welfare of our visitors," said Henry.

All employees are members of Skelwith Fold's conservation team which has helped the business achieve a number of prestigious environmental accolades over the years.

These include the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level, and a letter of praise from Prince Charles for the its success in re-establishing colonies of red squirrels.

Pictures of the guest deer have been posted on Skelwith Fold's website (, and Henry thinks that holiday guests will be surprised by what they see: "Within days of our closing each year, the animals begin to re-assert their presence - and we turn from a busy holiday centre into a bustling wildlife park - and especially so this winter," said Henry.

"It does give us plenty of extra mouths to feed, but the sight is a delight!" he added.