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As we continue to embrace staycations
, exploring the untamed parts of the United Kingdom becomes a captivating prospect. From serene riverside lands to the lofty Scottish Highlands, rewilding projects are reshaping the UK's landscapes, revealing a delightful mix of fauna and flora in their purest form. A plethora of accommodation options, from yurts to eco-luxe cabins, amplify the experience. Here, we journey through some of the finest wildlife spotting destinations and regions in the UK, where you can find anything from beavers to elusive bird species.
Knepp Safaris, West Sussex
Nestled in West Sussex, Knepp Safaris offers an immersive wilderness experience. Owners Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree have since 2001 converted Knepp Castle’s riverside lands from intensive farming to a thriving wilderness. The 3,500-acre estate now teems with longhorn cattle and Exmoor ponies, creatures reminiscent of the ancient aurochs and tarpan that once freely roamed these parts. Half-day safaris allow visitors to admire the estate's abundant wildlife, including red deer, bats, and rare British birds like the nightingale and turtle dove.
Isle of Mull, Scotland
The Isle of Mull is a nature-lovers paradise and is one of the best locations in the UK to spot birds of prey such as eagles. Both golden and white-tailed eagles reside here, along with a variety of other wildlife including otters, seals, and porpoises. Visitors can opt for guided wildlife tours, which provide in-depth knowledge of the island's rich biodiversity. There are a number of quirky and eco-conscious accommodation options available right on the doorstep of nature’s paradise.
Fritton Lake, Suffolk
The expansive Fritton Lake in Suffolk offers another eco-luxe holiday experience in the UK. The Somerleytons have devoted a fifth of their 5,000-acre estate to rewilding, part of the wider Wild East Project. The resultant fenced-off wilderness has become a haven for deer, ponies, and pigs, enhancing the area's biodiversity. After a day's adventure, visitors can retreat to self-catering cottages or log cabins with outdoor hot tubs.
Gower Peninsula, Wales
Another exceptional eco-luxe holiday hotspot is within the southern part of Wales - the Gower Peninsula. A haven for diverse birdlife, thanks to its varied habitats, including salt marshes, dunes, and woodland. The wetlands of the peninsula are a birdwatcher's paradise, offering sights of lapwings, redshanks, and even the elusive bittern in winter. There is an excellent selection of accommodation options right on the doorstep of these majestic and rare species.
Rewilding Coombeshead, Devon
In Devon, Rewilding Coombeshead takes a different approach to most, eschewing farming to let nature reclaim the land. Derek Gow, known for his memoir 'Bringing Back The Beaver', has released wild mouflon sheep onto his 150-acre estate near the historic village of Lifton. The sheep's grazing encourages the growth of diverse habitats for other creatures. The estate hosts beavers, badgers, and breeding groups of white storks and wildcats, creating a captivating wildlife tableau. Accommodation in cosy shepherd's huts offers visitors an intimate wilderness experience.
Norfolk Broads National Park
Lastly, the Norfolk Broads National Park is another must-visit destination, particularly for birdwatchers and wildlife spotters. The marshlands are home to rare birds like the marsh harrier, bittern, and the beautiful kingfisher. Furthermore, the Broads is one of the few places in the UK where you can see the Swallowtail butterfly, the largest butterfly species in the country. The Norfolk Broads covers an extensive part of East Anglia and exceptional places to stay can be found in many parts of it.