Weekend Wildlife Spotting Holidays
As two otters were spotted lost, retreating off a Thurso beach and rescued by the SPCA, we identify some of the best wildlife spotting holidays in the UK for a long weekend.
For intrepid romantics or a group of Nature-loving friends these holiday cottages, hidden within beautiful landscapes, offer some wildlife-focused fun for a long weekend. From bird spotting in the Black Mountains, fossil foraging on the ‘Jurassic coast’ in North Yorkshire to a photo/stalking expedition in remote Northwest Scotland.
East View Farm in Norfolk
Set within 10 peaceful acres in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, East View Farm’s two luxury self-catering cottages (sleeping two or six) are an excellent base for discovering the North Norfolk coastline.
The Norfolk Broads, nearby, are a paradise for nature lovers, with a huge variety of animals and bird life to be spotted at all times of the year. East View Farm can offer wildlife and bird watching tours and an introductory wildlife photography course. There are also opportunities to spot seals and other sea life on boat trips from the coast.
From £350 for a four-night stay for two sharing
www.premiercottages.co.uk or call the owner on 01603 782225.
Cabalva Mill Cottage in the Welsh Borders
Set in secluded woodland beside a gently flowing waterfall, Cabalva Mill Cottage is a romantic hideaway with a roaring wood burner and uninterrupted views of the river.
There is a local ghillie on hand to provide lessons and horse riding is available in the surrounding countryside. Venture into the Black Mountains and be rewarded by spotting numerous species of birds of prey including buzzards, red kites and sparrow hawks.
Sleeps two, from £385 for a three-night stay in November
www.cabalva.co.uk or call the owner on 01497 831045
Dysynni and Craig y Deryn in Wales
Two cosy cottages (sleeping two and four) converted from a former 17th century cow byre and hay loft, are nestled in the tranquil Dysynni Valley, just south of the Snowdonia National Park.
The cottages are just three miles from the sea and six miles from the old fishing village of Aberdyfi, with views across to Cadair Idris, the second highest mountain in Wales. The wonderful coastline, much of it owned by the National Trust, provides exhilarating walking with breathtaking and dramatic seascapes. The coastal waters are ideal for observing sea birds and catching a glimpse of the occasional dolphin as this sparsely populated area of Wales provides a haven for wildlife.
From £160 for a three-night stay for two people
From £230 for a three night stay for four people
Mill Hill Cottage lies on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This charming vernacular property offers a special base from which to explore the Lincolnshire Wolds. The Heritage of Lincolnshire Trust restored the cottage in 1999.
Activities include walking or cycling on The Viking Way and the Lincolnshire Wolds; bird watching at Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve which covers the coast line from Skegness to The Wash; and also worth seeing are the seals giving birth to their pups near the sand dunes every November and December at Lincolnshire’s Wildlife Trusts’ Donna Nook National Nature Reserve.
Mill Hill Cottage closes in January 2014 so take advantage of special offers in November and December. Sleeps two, £225 for a short break
Dunsley cottage, a traditional fisherman’s cottage, in the pretty fishing village of Staithes is ideally located for exploring the North Yorkshire moors which hosts England’s largest expanse of heather moorland.
Staithes has a fantastic coastline, known as the Jurassic Coast, which takes in Port Mulgrave, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay. It recently shot to scientific attention with the discovery of a plesiosaur, or sea dragon, thought to be 132 million years old. There are plenty of fossils along the beaches to forage.
Sleeps two, three nights from £200
The Boathouse in Northumberland
The Boathouse sits on the edge of a large lake within Middleton Hall, a secluded country estate. A perfect romantic hideaway, the property comes with use of a private rowing boat to launch from the house itself. Guests are granted use of the 30 acres of woodland and grounds and five lakes where walks and wildlife spotting opportunities are abundant including local otters.
Fishing rights are granted to the Boathouse and the owners of the Hall can advise you on where best to fish.
Sleeps two, long weekends from £500
This comfortable cottage on the remote Knoydart peninsula, has an idyllic setting that looks out over the waters of Loch Nevis, which in Gaelic means ‘heaven’.
There is a lot of marine wildlife to see: porpoises, seals, dolphins, basking sharks and orca, the ‘Killer Whale’, and if you’re lucky: sea eagles above the western end of Knoydart. Guests are invited to join the Knoydart Foundation Ranger and/or Stalker on a photo-stalking expedition. There are also short wildlife tours on Loch Nevis, day trips to the Small Isles, Kinloch Castle on Rum, and the tiny islands of Canna and Muck.
Sleeps six, a week’s stay from £550 with short breaks out of season possible through request
* Follow Country Life magazine on Twitter