5 of the best holiday destinations to see UK wildlife
Wildlife spotting is often associated with Big Five safaris and whale watching in the Arctic. But British holidaymakers needn’t travel so far or risk a dangerous Jeep excursion to see rare and exotic animals.
The British Isles is home to an astonishing number of rare birds and aquatic species, from puffins and otters to eagles and basking sharks. And with over half of Brits now choosing a staycation over travelling abroad, this summer is the perfect opportunity to make the most of the UK’s booming holiday industry and take your family on a nature-filled holiday.
Pembrokeshire’s long stretch of unspoilt coastal waterways is home to a vibrant population of sea birds. The food-rich waters make it the perfect spot for them to settle, and during the summer months hundreds of nature lovers ferry across the strait to the islands of Skomer and Skokholm to catch a glimpse of these roving birds.
The island of Skokholm has been described as other-worldly and there are never more than 26 people allowed to visit at any one time. In spring and summer, it plays host to thousands of puffins, guillemots, razorbills and manx shearwaters. And since the puffins are so unaccustomed to humans, they often walk right up to visitors, allowing you and your family to get up close and personal with nature.
North of Pembrokeshire is Cardigan Bay, a large inlet off the coast of Wales. Here you’ll find the UK’s largest pod of bottlenose dolphins as well as harbour porpoises and grey seals.
There are regular boat trips departing from New Quay, and a family of four can usually grab a 1-hour cruise for around £30. Alternatively, wildlife lovers on a budget can perch on the beach and observe the animals using binoculars.
The north Norfolk coast is a protected landscape and was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1968. Since then, the area has become a popular destination with holidaymakers, sparking dozens of caravan sites and holiday parks along the coast.
The reserve at Blakeney Point is home to a large seal colony that breeds from late October till early February and although visitors are prohibited from entering during this period, local boat trips are available and offer visitors a glimpse of these corpuscular critters from a safe distance.
Cairngorm National Park
Taking your cat or dog on holiday is nothing new. But if you’re planning a trip to the Cairngorms, think twice before taking your furry friend along, as they could find themselves face-to-face with a particularly fearsome creature: wildcats!
Twice the size of domesticated cats and infinitely more ferocious, these agrarian felines draw plenty of visitors to the highlands and are beautiful to behold – their extra-thick fur featuring very distinctive solid black and brown stripes.
The River Cam
The city of Cambridge is a great place to take the family for a short break. Home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities, the city is full of gothic chapels and centuries-old buildings, making it a great place for architecture lovers and those who enjoy a cultural day out.
Specialist bat safaris take to the river Cam once the sun goes down, and these relatively inexpensive tours convey visitors around the city looking for brown long-eared bats. Many come equipped with blankets, umbrellas and high-tech sensors that convert bat signals into audible frequencies, and 50% of ticket sales from certain punting companies go towards supporting the local Wildlife Trust.
Planning a family vacation in the UK is a great alternative to going abroad and will not only save you money on airfare and expensive city hotels but will also mean you get to spend quality time with your family surrounded by wildlife and the great British outdoors.
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