With a diverse mix of woodland, heathland, mountains and expansive coastline, the U.K. is home to a rich abundance of wildlife. From awe-inspiring birds of prey and endearing puffins to beautiful red squirrels and shy badgers, they’re all right here. Read on to find some of the best places in Britain to spot these amazing creatures.
Part of Blakeney National Nature Reserve in Norfolk, Blakeney Point is recognised internationally for its breeding birds and seal colony, which is the largest in England with more than 2,000 grey seal pups born annually. The area is fenced off during the breeding season (late October until late January), so schedule an organised boat trip for the best and least intrusive way to view the seals and their pups.
In the Eastern Highlands of Scotland, you’ll find Cairngorms National Park, home to some the most breath-taking scenery and outstanding wildlife. A great number of rare and endangered species are found in the mountains, forest, fields and moorlands of the National Park, including the elusive Scottish wildcat, the capercaillie, reindeer, red squirrels, pine martens, badgers, deer, ospreys and golden eagles. Explore on foot, or join a guided tour.
One of the biggest draws to picturesque New Forest is the 3,000 wild ponies that roam freely through the unspoilt heathland and ancient woodland. It’s also the place to spot all six species of deer found in the U.K., as well as adders, dragonflies, butterflies and heathland birds.
After becoming extinct in the early 20th century, the white-tailed sea eagle, Britain’s largest bird of prey, has been reintroduced on the Isle of Mull with great success! With a dramatic wing span of nearly 2.5 metres, they’re not hard to spot whether they’re fishing in the sea or swooping through one of Mull’s beautiful forests. This Scottish island in the Inner Hebrides is also a great place to spot golden eagles, buzzards, whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Arguably the most beloved—and possibly the cutest—of all British wildlife, the native red squirrel isn’t always the easiest to spot. With only 140,000 left in the U.K., this gorgeous creature is seriously outnumbered by the American grey squirrel, with an estimated 2.5 million currently living in Britain. For your best chance of finding the red squirrel, head to Kielder Water & Forest Park in Northumberland. The woodland is also home to badgers, pipistrelle bats, ospreys and more.
With a nearly 360-degree view of the River Fal and Falmouth Bay, Pendennis Point in Cornwall offers not only spectacular sea views but also a great chance of spotting a variety of marine life. You’ll find common and bottlenose dolphins that come here in search of plankton year-round, so keep your eyes on the water. Grey seals, sea birds and even basking sharks can be found here, too.
With otter numbers on the up in the U.K., there’s a better chance than ever of getting a glimpse at these elusive characters, and Gilfach Nature Reserve is a great place to spot them. However, beware that otters are naturally shy, so there are no guarantees you’ll see one. For your best chance, be sure to visit when the otters come to the waterfalls to chase leaping salmon—from October through December, in the early morning or during sunset.
This stretch of coastline in Northern Ireland is a hotspot for wildlife. Puffins, peregrine falcons and mountain hares have all been sighted on the cliffs, with Atlantic grey seals, porpoises and majestic basking sharks found in the waters below. Rathlin Island, just off the coast, is a haven for seabirds, with thousands of auks, guillemot and razorbills heading to the cliffs and sea stacks to breed.