Rifle ranges

Towards the north-eastern part of the country park are the remains of an old rifle range. The range is divided into two parts, Darnley Rifle Range and Patterton Rifle Range. The rifle range first appears on the second edition (first revision) of the Ordnance Survey map (1896-99). The Darnley Range was orientated roughly north to south and was a ‘long’ rifle range. The Patterton Range extends from south-west to north-east and was a ‘short’ range. The areas indicated as the actual shooting ranges appear to have been largely outside the country park to the north, but other elements (most notably the targets) lay within. To the north of the country park there was a structure called ‘Range Cottage’. A series of targets and associated earthworks are clearly visible on the map to the south of the ranges within the country park. The third edition (1914-1920) depicts the range at its most active, with the Range Cottage complex having been expanded and the number of targets and earthworks, presumably trenches and other features, also having grown. By the time the fourth edition Ordnance Survey maps were surveyed and published (1934-1938), the ranges had gone out of use and the Range Cottage complex was diminished.

The ranges were established before the commencement of the first world war, but appear to have been used for training purposes during this period. Following the war, the railway station at Patterton reopened and was named Patterton for Darnley Rifle Range, indicating perhaps that the range was heavily used at this time. The firing trench of this rifle range is visible on RAF vertical air photographs within the wooded area about 400 m north-west of Patterton Farm. The trench is also depicted on the current Ordnance Survey 1:10000 scale map (1990). The Patterton Rifle Range targets and earthworks lie in very thick, tangled woodland and are quite inaccessible, except for two deep, concrete-lined trenches at its western edge.