The UK’s walking trails are well known for their stunning scenery, but what about the wildlife which could be hiding just around the corner?
We’ve put together a list of our favourite walking holidays to spot amazing wildlife. So lace up your walking boots, grab a friend, and don’t forget your camera!
The magical section of the South West Coast Path between Padstow and Penzance traverses the coast of Cornwall – a perfect habitat for a host of wildlife. It might not come as much of a surprise that dolphins are often spotted just off the shores.
The 11 mile stretch from St Just to Porthcurno, passing Land’s End, is a popular spot with wildlife-watchers. You might choose to stop at the RSPB Discovery Centre which has telescopes to aid your spotting, and you could be rewarded with sightings of dolphins, or even basking sharks.
The southern section of the Pennine Way traverses mountain tops through the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales national parks, and with no shortage of remote country covered, opportunities for wildlife spotting abound.
Perhaps the best comes in the form of Malham Cove, directly on the Pennine Way. This vast, curved limestone formation attracts hundreds of peregrine falcons each summer as the adults teach their young the tricks of the flying trade. Find a grassy seat and prepare for a show.
The Skye Trail takes in some of Britain’s most dramatic and challenging mountains – the Cuillin Hills and the Trotternish Ridge. The range of scenery is hard to rival, as the trail covers remote coastal stretches, mountains and passes through rural communities.
This diversity is mirrored in the variety of wildlife that call the island their home. Locals and visitors alike often spot sea eagles, the largest bird of prey in Britain, at the cliffs near Portree, and sightings have been reported of bottlenose dolphins, whales, gannets, puffins and playful otters.
In 1995 the connection of Skye to the mainland by the Skye Bridge led to a new arrival on the island – the pine marten.
Arctic Terns take over the island during their breeding season in early summer. Visitors are advised to wear a hat when on the island as the Arctic Terns have been known to peck the heads of passers-by if they perceive a threat to their eggs and chicks!
The East Highland Way joins Fort William with Aviemore in the stunning Cairngorms National Park and provides a fantastic opportunity to combine some of Scotland’s other long distance walks such as the West Highland Way, the Great Glen Way and the Speyside Way.
It enjoys woodland scenery before emerging into the open Central Highlands, and these forests are home to none other than the Scottish wildcat, Britain’s last native cat species. In the past wildcats were found throughout Britain, but they are now rarer than the tiger. They are therefore renowned for being somewhat elusive, but you never know when you might be rewarded with a sighting.
Although not a trail in itself, in the Cairngorms National Park you will find some of Scotland’s most spectacular walking country – with the Speyside Way, Cateran Trail, Moray Way and East Highland Way all passing through. It is also home to Scotland’s only free-ranging reindeer herd. The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is open to visitors and there are currently around 150 reindeer in the herd, with a daily guided ‘hill trip’ to see the reindeer.
If it’s drama you’re looking for and you’re in the Cairngorms in late September or early October, you’re likely to hear red deer stags bellowing. This is part of the “rut”, the challenge of a male deer to show his dominance amongst the herd, and makes for quite the soundtrack to a highland walk.
If you’re feeling inspired to experience Britain’s wonderful wildlife, Absolute Escapes offer award-winning self-guided walking holidays throughout the UK & Ireland.
If you prefer to move at a more relaxed pace, try one of our fabulous self-drive holidays in Scotland.