One of the things I love most about the UK is its wildlife – especially as you can see different creatures depending on where exactly you go. While there are plenty of zoos and wildlife parks dotted around the country, I prefer spotting animals in the wild. After all, this way you get to see them in their natural environment, and I always think heading out into the great outdoors to find them makes for a fun adventure.
Over the past few years I’ve discovered that wildlife spotting is a great basis for a country holiday. There are loads of destinations that are absolutely perfect for this kind of break, but I think some really stand out and have put together my top five picks.
1) The Peak District (Derbyshire)
First on my list is the Peak District in Derbyshire, which is one of the best places to go if you want to have a wide range of habitats to explore. Of course, the more varied the habitats the greater variety of species you can see, so this option always appeals to me!
The Peak District (and Derwent in particular) is home to a thriving population of hares, so these should definitely be on your list of things to look out for. Reaching speeds of up to 45 miles an hour when they run, they can be a little hard to spot – they’re easiest to see on flat fields, which they often dart across.
2) The New Forest (Hampshire)
I absolutely love the New Forest – I have relatives who live nearby, so I’m lucky enough to take walks in it on a fairly regular basis. This area is an excellent place to spot deer, who stroll among the oak and beech trees deep inside the forest. Among the species that live here are sika, roe and fallow deer.
Over on the open heaths, it’s worth keeping a close eye on the ground to see if you can catch sight of some snakes. Lizards, frogs and toads, meanwhile, can be seen around the forest’s many pools.
3) Cairngorms National Park (Scottish Highlands)
My next recommendation is up in the Scottish Highlands. Another destination that promises a wide selection of habitats and wildlife, Cairngorms National Park is a real paradise for wildlife lovers. Among my favourite facts about this place is that it’s home to the only wild reindeer herd in Britain; head to Loch Morlich to see it! Golden eagles, peregrine falcons and red deer are just some of the other creatures you can see in the park.
4) Brownsea Island (Dorset)
My next suggestion takes us to the south coast of England. Situated in Poole Harbour, Brownsea Island is a veritable haven of wildlife, with creatures thriving on the local woodland, lagoon and heathland. The highlight of coming here is the chance to spot the exceedingly rare red squirrel, which can only be found in a few parts of the UK.
5) Hickling Broad (Norfolk)
The last destination on my list is Hickling Broad, which is the largest of the Norfolk Broads. This nature reserve is an unbeatable destination for bird watching, thanks to its well-placed hides overlooking pools and exciting species. Come here and you can look forward to spotting barn owls (provided you are there at dawn or dusk), bitterns and cranes, to name but a few.