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The UK’s best nature reserves for wildlife spotting, according to Instagram


Take a trip into nature (Picture: Ark Wildlife)

The British staycation is still reigning the holiday scene.

So much so, research has found tourism to be the fasted growing industry in the UK.

Beyond the obvious go-tos in the country, it can be easy to draw a blank quickly on where to go if you’re always used to jetting setting for holidays.

While Britain’s biggest towns and best known beaches are great, it can be worth looking further afield for a unique getaway.

One of these options can be nature reserves – which are tranquil and known for their wildlife – making them great for scenic walking holidays.

Ark Wildlife have used data from Instagram to figure out which nature reserves in the UK are the best for spotting wildlife, seeing as that’s one of the big appeals of these environments.

Sean McMenemy, wildlife expert and director at Ark Wildlife, says:

‘Nature reserves are vital for conservation work to help to protect our wildlife and to protect our planet for future generations.

‘Using precious holiday time to slow down and appreciate the natural world is greatly beneficial as it contrasts starkly with our fast paced digital existences. 

‘Make sure to follow the rules of the nature reserve to keep our wildlife safe – don’t leave litter, don’t make sudden loud noises to startle the wildlife, and don’t feed them food that may be harmful to them.

‘I hope that a visit to a nature reserve will inspire you to create your own wildlife area back home – whether that’s letting an area in your garden grow wild or creating a wildlife haven in a community space.’

These are the places to have on your travel list.

Ditchling Beacon Nature Reserve, Sussex

Be calmly close to animals while enjoying the view (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you’re keen to get a good shot for your social media as well as enjoying the view, this is the spot to come to.

Here you can see the musk orchid, the marsh fragrant orchid and the deep blue/purple of round-headed rampion (which grows in abundance in late summer).

Looe Island Nature Reserve, Cornwall

Get a boat out to this remote island (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Cornwall is a staycation go-to anyway, but look beyond St Ives (as beautiful as it is) and head to Looe Island which can only be accessed through organised boat trips.

Pets and fishing aren’t allowed on the island, so they take their natural wildlife seriously. Here you can spot grey seals, black-backed gulls, cormorants and oystercatchers.

Northumberlandia Nature Reserve, Northumberland

There’s plenty to spot here (Picture: PA)

This reserve is known as ‘The Lady’ and is 100 feet high.

Throughout the seasons the view changes, and you can spot kestrels, buzzards, butterflies, meadow flowers, pond birds, and newts.

Crickley Hill Nature Reserve, Gloucestershire

View to Crickley Hill and Severn vale (Picture: Getty Images)

Crickley Hill sits above the Severn Plain and the city of Gloucester.

You might see adders, slow worms (which look more like snakes), and wildflowers, including several types of orchids.

Gogarth Nature Reserve, North Wales

This reserve is located on the western slopes of the Great Orme, so as the name suggests, it’s very steep.

Rather than walk directly in it, it’s recommended to enjoy the view of this reserve from the Marine Drive above.

Here you can spot chough birds, silver-studded blue butterflies, sheep, goats and glow worms.

St Catherine’s Hill Nature Reserve, Hampshire

The hill overlooking castle beach and St Catherine’s Island (Picture: Getty Images)

Using the wooden stairs, climb to 220ft for stunning views.

But it’s not just about getting to the top – on the way up there are wildflowers to spot and you’ll see butterflies, green woodpeckers and rare orchids.

Bowness on Solway Nature Reserve, Cumbria

Local bird life is one reason to visit (Picture: Getty Images)

A smaller nature reserve, yet still filled with wildlife opportunities.

It used to be gravel quarry, but now thanks to the change you can see the emperor dragonfly, which is the largest in Britain, and a mix of moths and butterflies.

West Bexington Nature Reserve, Dorset

Go for a scenic walk (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Here you look out for a variety of migrant bird species, while being surrounded by reedbed, grazing mash and mixed coastal scrub.

Make a note to look out for cetti’s warbler, water vole, and the great crested newt.

Flamborough Cliffs Nature Reserve, Yorkshire

The North Landing Flamborough Head North East Yorkshire (Picture: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Look down and you’ll see grass that’s ‘carpeted’ in flowers, which then brings in lots of butterflies.

Look up and you might catch the cliffs filled with tens of thousands of seabirds from colonies.

It’s worth looking out for gannets, gulls and breeding auks.

Falls of Clyde Nature Reserve, South Lanarkshire

A view of the Corra Linn waterfalls which is part of the Falls of Clyde (Picture: PA)

Make the journey here and you’ll be greeted by waterfalls and woodland walks.

Between night and day, you could see bats, otters, badgers, and kingfishers.

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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