So many National Trust locations have wonderful houses and beautiful grounds to explore, but Attingham Park has an extra perk to discover that makes it one of my favourite places to visit in Shropshire! Beyond the gorgeous mansion and grazing in the grounds beneath the Wrekin is a herd of around 200 fallow deer, stunning creatures that while not completely human friendly they will allow you to get much closer than a typical wild deer ever would. So let's embark on an adventure, chock full of history and nature in perfect surroundings...
Attingham Park sits on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, in the gap between Shrewsbury and Telford just south of the A5 (the road that becomes the M54 shortly after breaking away from the Shrewsbury ring road). This all means that Attingham Park is a well-connected spot that can be reached from a number of directions - obviously, you can get here directly from the Shrewsbury ring road, via the B4380 or you can come from the M54 either getting off at Junction 7 and following the roads through the countryside or heading to Shrewsbury. Up from the south, if you find yourself exploring the Shropshire Hills and want to drop in then the roads around here are nice and easy-going, either making your way up via the A458 or by following the B-roads. As an added bonus, even though this is a little way out in the countryside you can currently get a bus that takes you from Shrewsbury out to near the entrance of Attingham Park.
You will be greeted at Attingham with ample gravel parking and a little welcome centre that has friendly staff willing to talk you through where to go and what to see. From here, the path will swing around until you enter a courtyard within the old stables that is a great space to eat and a bunch of attractions and shops to explore before you enter the park proper. When you are ready, make your way through the arch past the cafe and out onto the smooth gravel paths, the route around to your right will take you to our first major attraction: the mansion.
Before we get to that, a bit of history. Attingham Park wasn't always the sprawling hall and well-manicured grounds we see today, but it does have a deep history. Habitation of the area dates back as far as the Bronze Age with the wider estate having several sites of interest including an Iron Age settlement, Roman Forts and much more. Beyond that, the medieval village of Berwick Maviston including a manor with moats and fish ponds used to occupy the area, with this manor dating back to the Norman Invasion. This manor fell into disrepair in medieval times but was replaced by Grant's Mansion, constructed in 1790; the village was also occupied until around this time until Baron Berwick built Attingham and removed the village from his land. The Barons Berwick maintained Attingham as their seat until that title became extinct in 1953 when the last descendant died childlessly and the estate went into the control of the National Trust. The deer have been around since the creation of the deer park in 1797, all of the resident deer are direct descendants of the original herd.
After following the signs around to the right you will arrive at the side of the mansion, with a serene little sitting area where you can enjoy a light bite from the mansion tearoom. If you continue past that, the grounds open up and that spectacular columned entranceway - take a quick stroll out onto the grass to really soak in the facade. Setting up with a picnic in the shadow of this amazing building is a great way to round off a sunny day. Then when you are ready, you can follow the circular path to explore all around the mansion, making sure to follow the path into the hall so you can see the inner courtyard of the mansion, or we can head out to my favourite part of Attingham Park - the deer!
My love of deer is no secret, considering my time spent trying to capture deer at Cannock Chase spurred my love of nature and wildlife, and the 200 or so Fallow Deer are a wonderful sight to behold. The herd is generally comfortable around visitors, although they will still scarper if you get a bit too close; most of the time you can find them relaxing in the same field just quizically watching you as you walk by or snap some photos. We have also visited around Christmas to watch the deer feeding sessions where they unload goodies from the back of a sleigh - well worth a visit to watch the ensuing chaos. If you have always wanted to immortalise these magnificent creatures in a photograph, but never had much luck with the truly wild ones, then this is a great opportunity to check them out up close (at least, relatively speaking).
Luckily for us, the day isn't over yet. Attingham Park has ample walking opportunities around the grounds with options taking you down and around the River Tern, through the open countryside and into the woodlands to the northern edge. There is a glorious circular walk that you can follow out from the deer fields and up to the aforementioned woodland before crossing back over the River Tern and heading back around to the mansion. You can take in all kinds of sights around here, with things such as the walled garden and even a little Greedy Pig van if you find yourself famished from your wander. The generous amounts of nature, the little streams and the bigger rivers all with the thick canopy of trees makes this a great place to explore. Our walk detailed up above details the outer circle you can follow that is well worth it if you fancy a nice long stroll in tranquil surroundings then this is the walk for you.
That just about sums up Attingham Park, it is a favourite of mine thanks to the combination of those astounding grounds with the incredible mansion and those beautiful deer adding an extra bit of excitement to your day out. If Attingham is only going to make part of your day out, consider checking out the nearby Wrekin to get even more walking on and some spectacular views, or make a trip to Ironbridge for a touch more history. You are right on the edge of the Shropshire Hills so a few other options include the Stipperstones or Carding Mill Valley - all great places depending on what you fancy! That being said, if you are looking for somewhere to take up your entire day then Attingham is a great option for that, you could easily explore the mansion, grounds and surrounding areas to your heart's content and not run out of things to find, places to explore and memories to cherish forever.