THE LONDON Loop is a walking route which goes for 150 miles around the capital. It veers from inside to beyond the city boundaries and back again, but the Loop’s outline still looks vaguely London-shaped.
I have been making recordings along it since August 2019 and have got three-quarters of the way round so far. Some stretches are poorly signposted and others are quite overgrown, but mostly it’s easy walking. Last Saturday the Loop took me through Bushy Park in west London where stags were calling out during the rutting season, which lasts from September to November.
Each stag makes only a few brief roars at a time. He will pass the long intervals between roaring bouts in strutting slowly and tensely around the does, gouging clods out of the ground with his antlers, or else staring into the distance.
The roars sound like the loud belches that men delight in making after their dinner. When one stag turned in my direction to roar from perhaps four or five dozen yards away, the loudness of it had a physical impact, as if his hot silage-stinking breath could be felt instantly on the face.
The Royal Parks website recommends that during the rutting season visitors don’t bring their dogs with them and keep a respectful distance from the deer.