10 of the best UK wildlife trips: discover native wildlife with adventurous days out and longer breaks

10 of the best UK wildlife trips: discover native wildlife with adventurous days out and longer breaks

Otterly relaxing

Denbury Farm, Somerset

Fancy a wildlife holiday? Consider a cottage at Denbury where you’ll be in excellent creature company. The picturesque site is home to wild otters, badgers (photograph top right by Mark Hamblin), deer and buzzards, plus you can go horse riding. There’s even a tree house and special wildlife-watching hides. Cottages vary in size and cost from £300 per week. Call 01823 433900 or visit www.denburyfarm.co.uk (where you can also watch their nature webcams).

Hide away

Cairngorms National Park, Ballater

When it comes to unspoilt natural beauty, the Cairngorms is hard to beat. Snuggle up in a purposebuilt hide at dusk and watch out for pine martens, deer, badgers and more! Nightly hides available at Speyside, Easter-Oct (plus specified nights throughout winter – bring your thermals!). Adult £25, child (8-14) £15. Discounts for booking online. Call 01479 812345 or visit www.speysidewildlife.co.uk/hides.aspx 

Be an eager beaver

Near Lochgilphead, Argyll

Since their reintroduction in 2009, Scotland’s beaver population has flourished, with babies born three years in a row. Pay them a visit at Knapdale Forest where you can walk a specially designed
beaver route for free. For the best chance of seeing them, visit at dawn or dusk and look for gnawed tree trunks! Visit www.scottishbeavers.org.uk/visit-knapdale

Have a whale of a time

Penzance, Cornwall

Go in search of gentle giants on a boat trip – you could see common dolphins, harbour porpoises or even a minke whale! That’s without mentioning the seals, seabirds and basking sharks that are sometimes spotted. Marine Discovery offers cruises from 90 minutes for up to four hours, Mar-Nov, from £18 per adult, £14 per child over three. Call 01736 874907 or visit www.marinediscovery.co.uk

Lounge with lizards

New Forest, Hampshire

Britain’s reptiles and amphibians are elusive creatures, but you can meet them all at the New Forest’s Reptile Centre. As well as getting up close to resident species in their specially designed enclosures, you can take a self-guided reptile trail, watch birds of prey on ‘nest cams’ and enjoy a woodland picnic. Parking and entry free, donations welcome. Open April-Sept. Call 0238 028 3141 or visit www.forestry.gov.uk/england

Much ado about puffins

Lunga, near Oban, Argyll and Bute

If you’re a camera whiz, indulge your passion on one of nature’s most glamorous subjects – the puffin – and hone your skills with a weekend course. Two-day bird photography classes cost £195pp (not including accommodation or evening meals) and run May 24-25, Jun 14-15 or July 19-20. Call Loch Visions on 01866 833272 or visit www.lochvisions.co.uk

Birding heaven

Rathlin Island, Ballycastle

Rathlin is home to the RSPB’s biggest European bird colony. A six-mile ferry trip from Ballycastle will have you surrounded by puffins, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. Summer brings the widest variety. Enjoy fish and chips, watch the resident seals bobbing along, or explore the site’s two churches. Return ferry crossings cost £12 per adult, £6 per child. Call 0282 076 9299 or visit

Seal of approval

Anglesey, northwest Wales

The island is renowned for its wildlife and a walking tour is a great way to enjoy it. Keep your eyes peeled for rare choughs, seals, porpoises, peregrines and wildflowers galore. Various routes available. Full day tours £30, half days £15. Bespoke walks can be booked for £10 per hour. Call 07725 174087 or visit www.angleseywildlifewalks.com

Beautiful butterflies

Dartmoor, Devon

If you prefer small and delicate creatures, try Dartmoor for spectacular butterflies. Take a guided walking tour (May-Aug) and spot pearl bordered, small pearl bordered, marsh and high brown fritillary butterflies. Bird watching, dusk walks and woodland exploration sessions also available. £10 per hour for up to six adults, less for larger groups, under 16s free. Dartmoor Nature Tours,
call 0785 842 1148, www.dartmoornaturetours.co.uk

Bespoke bounty

The Norfolk Safari

Dotty about deer? Wild about waxwings? OTT about orchids? Then try a bespoke wildlife tour in Norfolk! The Norfolk Safari is £55 for a full day, including lunch, refreshments, transport and even binocular loan. Tell the experts what you’re keen on and they will do their best to find it for you – you’re sure to come home having learned a thing or two. Call 01263 576995 or visit www.wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk

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