Appreciating the variety of fantastic species on our doorstep has been one of the (few) benefits of the pandemic. Now the race is on to protect our wild spaces and reintroduce some of the species and habitats lost in past decades.
If you want to be a part of these pioneering projects, consider a stay at one of these excellent retreats.
1. Alladale Wilderness Reserve, Scotland
Recently featured on BBC’s Springwatch, one of Scotland’s largest and longest running rewilding projects first gained mass attention when owner conservationist Paul Lister voiced controversial plans to reintroduce wolves. Heir to his family’s MFI furniture chain, the millionaire used part of his fortune to purchase a 23,000-acre estate where Scottish wildcats have been bred and red squirrels reintroduced. This summer, Alladale has introduced hydro-powered Aquaponics gardens to produce organic, low-carbon food with zero food miles for guests staying in lodges on the estate.
2. Fritton Lake, Norfolk
WildEast is a movement to return 20% of East Anglia to nature and create Europe’s biggest nature reserve. One of the leading forces in the project is Somerleyton Estate managed by WildEast co-founder Hugh Somerleyton. Guests staying at the sustainable holiday village at Fritton Lake can learn about the importance of biodiversity through walks and Jeep tours across land shared with free-roaming red and fallow deer, Highland cattle, water buffalo, pigs and Exmoor ponies. Other activities include wild swimming, trail running, cycling, paddle boarding and relaxing in a floating sauna.
3. Argaty Red Kites, Perthshire, Scotland
Red kites were once one of Britain’s most common birds of prey, but by the early 1900s they’d been wiped out following centuries of persecution. When kites reintroduced by the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage began roosting on their 1,400-acre farm, Niall and Lynn Bowser decided to turn the estate into a safe haven. Their work has helped the bird become one of the fastest growing species in the UK. Visitors can enjoy guided tours to see the estate’s red kites and red squirrels, take dragonfly walks, pond dipping sessions or participate in a Big Citizen Science Project to leg-ring this year’s chicks. It’s now possible to stay overnight in a newly renovated cottage.