Appreciating the variety of fantastic species on our doorstep has been one of the (rare) benefits of the pandemic. Now the race is on to protect our wild spaces and reintroduce some of the species and habitats lost in recent decades.
If you want to be a part of these pioneering projects, consider staying at one of these great retreats.
1. Alladale Wildlife Reserve, Scotland
Recently featured on the BBC’s Springwatch, one of Scotland’s largest and oldest rewilding projects caught the attention of the masses when environmental owner 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 feral cats were bred and red squirrels reintroduced. This summer, Alladale introduced hydroelectric aquaponic gardens to produce low carbon organic food with zero food miles for guests staying at lodges on the estate.
2. Fritton Lake, Norfolk
WildEast is a movement to return 20% of East Anglia to nature and to create the largest nature reserve in Europe. One of the driving forces behind the project is Somerleyton Estate, managed by WildEast co-founder Hugh Somerleyton. Guests staying at the sustainable Fritton Lake Holiday Village can learn about the importance of biodiversity through rides and jeep tours through land shared with free-range red and fallow deer, Highland cattle, water buffalo, pigs and Exmoor ponies. Other activities include wild swimming, running, biking, paddle boarding and relaxing in a floating sauna.
3. Red kites from Argaty, Perthshire, Scotland
The red kite was once one of Britain’s most common birds of prey, but by the early 1900s they had been wiped out after centuries of persecution. When the kites reintroduced by the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage began to roost on their 1,400 acre farm, Niall and Lynn Bowser decided to turn the estate into a haven of peace. Their work has helped the bird to become one of the fastest growing species in the UK. Visitors can take advantage of guided tours to see the red kites and red squirrels of the estate, take walks with dragonflies, soak sessions in the pond or participate in a large citizen science project to ring the legs of the chicks of this year. It is now possible to spend the night in a recently renovated chalet.
Visit argatyredkites.co.uk and argatycottage.com.
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