Go Wild in the Country: 10 of the Best Wildlife Holidays in the UK | Travel
Wild Retreat, Cairngorms
Discover Scotland’s wealth of wildlife on a week-long tour, focusing on the rewilding programs opening up in the Highlands. The trip offers the chance to see red kites – recently reintroduced to the area – bottlenose dolphins and osprey, as well as spotting pine martens from a private hideout. Visits to remote crofts include talks about rewilding and time with a ranger at Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve, home to white-tailed eagles and red deer. The trip can also be booked as a private tour.
The six-night trip costs £1,395 per person, including accommodation, all meals and a guide; wildscotland.com
Minibeast Travels, Surrey
The Field Studies Council specializes in natural history days and experiences for schools, and also offers structured family holidays, based on FSC accommodation. Their three-night Minibeasts, Mice and the Mole weekend gives kids the chance to dive into the river, set traps for small mammals (before releasing them) and hunt minibeasts, with plenty of time to explore the stunning countryside around Box Hill.
A three-night break, leaving October 28, costs £130 for adults and £100 for children, including all meals and activities; field-studies-council.org
Dolphin Tours, Cardigan Bay
Home to one of the largest populations of dolphins in Europe, the 60-mile stretch of Cardigan Bay is populated by 250 aquatic mammals. Bay to Remember runs dolphin-watching trips from April to October, ranging from a quick one-hour trip to a more in-depth two-hour experience that offers the best chance of spotting dolphins. Longer trips take in Cemaes Head, home to a population of gray seals, and all offer the chance to see the guillemots, razorbills and cormorants that nest above the bay. Stay at the nearby Red Lion, which has simple but comfortable rooms from £80 B&B (redlioncardigan.co.uk).
One-hour dolphin tours from £26 pp; baytoremember.co.uk
Seal spotting, Farne Islands, Northumberland
One of England’s most wildlife-rich corners, this small group of islands off the Northumberland coast is home to thousands of gray seals and seabirds, with dolphins roaming the surrounding waters. Billy Shiel’s Boat Trips offers a variety of experiences, from 90-minute seal-watching trips to longer cruises, to small islands, including the mythical Lindisfarne. Stay at the Joiners Arms in Newton-by-the-Sea, which has opulent double rooms from £190 B&B (joiners-arms.com).
Seal cruises £20 pp (farne-islands.com)
Badger watching, Dorset
Notoriously difficult to spot, a badger seen in the wild is an unforgettable experience. Two specially designed skins at Badger Watch Dorset offer one of the best chances of seeing one. Each cache can be reserved privately for up to eight people, from 6:30 p.m. until the lights go out at midnight. Alongside badgers, hides offer a good chance of spotting foxes, deer and rabbits. Stay in nearby Dorchester, where the King’s Arms has chic rooms from £105 B&B.
Skins cost £80 (1-4 people); £120 (5-8 people); badgerwatchdorset.co.uk
Norfolk’s skies teem with birds from August to November, when autumn migrations see dozens of species, from sandpipers and egrets to ibis and owls, pass over the coastline. Norfolk Birding offers a three-night birding break each month, with accommodation on a traditional farm and day trips to different parts of the county. Walks through salt marshes and sand dunes, with over 100 bird species typically recorded over the weekend.
A three-night birding weekend costs £390 pp based on two sharing; norfolkbirding.com
Red Deer Safari, Exmoor
Experience one of nature’s most majestic species roaming the open moors on a half-day game drive through some of the wildest and most stunning parts of Exmoor. The safari offers the chance to see both red deer and other species from the comfort of a Land Rover, with plenty of opportunities to exit the vehicle for better viewing. Book a room at the Exmoor Forest Inn, where the cozy dining room offers farm produce from the pub. Doubles from £113 B&B (exmoorforestinn.com).
Red Deer Safari £75pp; redstagsafari.co.uk
Seabirds and Whales, Yorkshire
Once famous for its whaling fleet, the Yorkshire coast is one of the best places in England to see minke whales, which appear in late summer following schools of mackerel. Yorkshire Coast Nature run guided day boat trips from Staithes, combining time on land to familiarize the group with the variety of local seabirds, with up to six hours on the water, the watching whales, bottlenose dolphins and harbor porpoises. Shorter four-hour “twilight” journeys are also available. The Royal George is a classic fisherman’s pub in Staithes, with three comfortable rooms from £100 B&B (theroyalgeorgestaithes.co.uk).
Day trips £90 pp; yorkshirecoastnature.co.uk
Kayaking Wild Islay, Hebrides
The southernmost of the Inner Hebrides, Islay is as famous for its wildlife as it is for its whisky, due to its varied habitat of wet meadows, moors, bogs and lochs. One of the best ways to explore the coastline – and spot some of the many species of birds, otters and seals that call the island home – is by kayak, which moves silently through the water without alarming wildlife. near. Kayak Wild Islay offers guided three-hour or full-day trips to hidden coves, long sandy beaches and hidden ancient sites. Stay at Glenegedale House, an award-winning B&B with four standard boutique hotel rooms from £210 B&B (glenegedalehouse.co.uk).
Kayaking full day £80 pp / half day £60 pp; kayakwildislay.co.uk
Puffins, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire
Skomer Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire, is the perfect place to watch Atlantic puffins. They arrive in April to nest and stay here until late July when their puffins are independent. Seacoast Safaris offers a range of excursions and boats are available for private hire. The Bull in Beaumaris is a classic coaching inn with chic rooms from £121 B&B (bullsheadinn.co.uk).
A two-hour cruise on Puffin Island and the Menai Strait costs £38 pp; seacoastsafaris.co.uk.