1 Loaf around with llamas
What could be better than a picnic on the Surrey Hills? A picnic with a llama for company! Surrey Hill Llamas is a quirky company which has been offering peaceful treks with the gentle giants for a decade. Various day trips are available, including to the country’s only ‘llama pub’, and the obliging animals will even carry your bags for you, as you walk side by side.
- Wednesday evening walks run from May 15-September 11, as well as various weekend trips and open days. The minimum age limit is eight years. Call the office between 10am-noon, Tuesday-Saturday, 01428 682883 or visit www.surrey-hills-llamas.co.uk
2 Seal the deal
Seals are one of the UK’s most charismatic mammals, and there are plenty of stretches of coastline where you can watch them. At the National Trust’s Blakeney Point, you should spot both our native species: common and grey seals. Take a boat from Morston Quay (Beans Boats are our pick of the best) over the summer season (April-October) and look out for the colony hauled up on the sand as you approach. You’ll be allowed time to wander the strip in search of wading birds, too.
3 A date with donkeys
Eeyore-fans will be in their element at Bray and Stay events, held by the Donkey Sanctuary. The charity, which rescues donkeys and mules across the UK and Ireland, offers the opportunity to camp overnight at its centres across the UK. Meet, feed and muck out the residents before enjoying your own hearty dinner and breakfast, a guided walk and more. £75 adults,£50 children, under-fives free. Call 01395 573156.
- Sidmouth: August 21-22, September 6-7
- Ivybridge: July 30-31
- Leeds: August 9-10
4 Walk with a hawk
Meet some awe-inspiring birds of prey up close at the Birds of Prey and Conservation Centre, Sion Hill Hall, near Thirsk. Daily flying displays from some of their 70 birds are followed by opportunities to slip on a glove and feel the weight of one yourself, or for £30 take a ‘walk with a hawk’ – accompanying a falconer to fly a Harris hawk in the countryside for an hour.
- For more information call 01845 587522 or visit www.falconrycentre.co.uk
5 B&B and Badgers
There aren’t many hearts that wouldn’t melt at the sight of a striped muzzle snuffling around a garden. Numerous B&Bs across the UK boast regular black and white visitors; Glanmoy Lodge Guest House, Goodwick, Pembrokeshire has sea views and badger guests who are regularly fed to ensure their return. £32.50 per person, per night.
- Call 01348 874333 or visit www.glanmoy lodge.co.uk
6 Go batty
Put down that copy of Dracula and prepare to forget everything you’ve ever learnt about bats. Far from fearsome bloodsuckers, these fascinating little creatures actually make a great evening’s entertainment, as you can discover for yourself on a bat safari in Cambridge. Rather than travel by jeep, you’ll take the academic’s prefered mode of transport – a punt down the river Cam. Here, with the help of an expert guide and a handheld bat detector, you’ll have the chance to find up to four species of the UK’s 18 varieties.
- Scudamore’s bat safaris restart for the summer season on May 17, times vary according to time of year. £15 adult, £7.50 under 12s, 50 per cent of ticket sales go to the Wildlife Trust. For more, call 01223 359750 or visit www.scudamores.com
7 Monkey around
You’d be forgiven for assuming that seeing free-roaming monkeys involves an expensive foreign holiday, but not so, thanks to a unique forest in Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent. Here you get all the picturesque benefits of a stroll through English woodlands, but with a twist: a resident group of Barbary macaques. Covering 60 acres there’s plenty of natural behaviour on display from its 140 residents, as well as playgrounds for your own little monkeys to go bananas over!
- Monkey Forest is open daily from now until November 3. £7.50 adults, £5.50 children, under-3s free. Call 01782 659845 or visit www.trentham-monkey-forest.com