Get back to nature with a stay in these wildlife-focused UK resorts and reserves

Staycations are still the most popular way to go on holiday this year, but are you seeing the UK’s wild side?

Rewilding projects – ecological restorations where lands are left to nature – are all the rage across Britain.

So if you want to see beavers in the wild or the Scottish Highlands restored to their natural glory, we’ve selected some of the most scenic examples of rewilding you can admire.

And there is a range of accomodation, from yurts and cosy shepherd’s huts to full on eco-luxe cabins.

Knepp Safaris, West Sussex

Since 2001, owners Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree have transformed Knepp Castle’s riverside lands, halting an intensive-farming model and surrendering the 3,500-acre estate to nature’s will.

In so doing, they have introduced longhorn cattle and Exmoor ponies as proxies for aurochs and tarpan – ancient beasts that once roamed here.

Numerous themed half-day safaris introduce the abundant flora and fauna, which also includes critically endangered British bird species such as the nightingale and turtle dove, plus red deer, purple emperor butterflies, beavers and bats (from £40pp).

Two-night stays in shepherds’ huts, treehouses and yurts start at £210, kneppsafaris.co.uk

Alladale Wilderness Reserve, Sutherland

Prehistoric Scotland was densely forested and patrolled by predators. At his 23,000-acre Highlands tract, Paul Lister is intent on resurrecting that environment.

Although controversial plans to restore wolves remain on hold, Lister has planted nearly a million native trees around Alladale’s picturesque glens and lochs. That, in turn, has boosted river otter, red squirrel, mountain hare, pine marten, water vole and golden eagle numbers.

Tenants of the reserve’s three fully-catered lodges – or a remote self-catering alternative – can undertake ranger-led tours.

From £2,950 per week in a lodge that sleeps up to four, full board, alladale.com

Fritton Lake, Suffolk

Three years ago, Lord and Lady Somerleyton began letting a fenced-off fifth of their 5,000-acre estate return to its natural state, as part of East Anglia’s wider Wild East Project.

Deer, ponies and pigs now roam inside, increasing biodiversity. Guests of Fritton Lake, an eco-luxe holiday resort also on the Somerleyton estate, can book boat, car or walking safaris before returning to their self-catering cottage or log cabin’s outdoor hot tubs.

Elsewhere, paddleboarding, wild swimming and yoga are available.

From £889 for four nights, sleeps four, fritton-lake.co.uk

Rewilding Coombeshead, Devon

Farming has also mostly ceased on Derek Gow’s land near Lifton, an historic village west of Dartmoor.

Gow, author of the memoir Bringing Back The Beaver, has instead released animals such as wild mouflon sheep on to 150 acres. Their grazing will develop habitats for other creatures.

Beavers are present too, of course, as are badgers and breeding groups of white storks and wildcats (in pens).

The newest arrivals are three cosy shepherd’s huts (from £200 for two nights).

Alongside weekend or week-long stays involving animal husbandry, guided 4×4 safaris are planned for later this year utilising comfortable hides.

rewildingcoombeshead.co.uk

Also consider…

Now one of Europe’s most precious wetlands, Cambridgeshire’s Wicken Fen supports short-eared owls, Konik ponies and much more. Four open-fronted log shelters can be exclusively rented from the National Trust.

Under Mid Wales’s Cambrian Wildwood project is restoring a sprawl of woods and moorland. Wild horses have been introduced, and pine martens, red squirrels and beavers are anticipated. Tours are available to guests of two adjacent self-catering cottages at Cefnoch Farm.

Over in Gloucestershire, Anselm Guise has begun rewilding 250 acres around his family’s country pile, Elmore Court — with treehouses due in two years.

For numerous other schemes, visit rewildingbritain.org.uk.

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