The Best Places to See UK Wildlife
We’re so lucky in the UK to be surrounded by diverse wildlife. From impressive deer and sharks to smaller red squirrels and beavers, there's plenty of wildlife to discover. Along the coast, in our wonderful nature reserves and within our treasured national parks, you can see some of the most prized species in the UK.
Here’s our round-up of some of the best wild animals in the UK and an idea of where you can find them.
Places to see red squirrels in the UK
With tufts of fur on its ears and a wonderful red coat with a white underside, the red squirrel is much harder to spot than its grey counterpart.
Northern England and Scotland are some of the best areas to spot red squirrels. If you’re camping in Scotland, keep an eye out for the distinctive flash of russet as you explore woodland and forest areas. Here are a few specific locations, known for their red squirrel numbers.
- Smardale Gill in Cumbria has been a thriving woodland since medieval times, making a rich environment for all woodland animals and fauna. Those camping in the Lake District will be no more than an hour away from here. Nearest campsite: Kendal Club Site
- Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve has feeder boxes and rope walkways set up within metres of a large observation window. Nearest campsite: Scone Club Site
- Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority are putting in large efforts around the conservation of the red squirrel. By creating habitats free of grey squirrels, there are a number of hot spots to visit on your squirrel spotting quest. Nearest campsite: Milarrochy Bay Club Site
See some of six UK deer species
We have a large population of deer in the UK, with six species to look out for. The rutting season (when males fight for female attention) is a great wildlife spectacle taking place during autumn each year. While you can find deer in woodland all over the UK, here are some of the best locations for seeing these graceful animals.
- The New Forest is home to all six species of UK deer. Notoriously hard to spot, you may see the shy creatures along the side of the road at dusk or see signs they’ve been around while out walking. Remember to drive through the New Forest with care as deer-related incidents are frequent. Nearest campsite: Verwood Club Site
- Chatsworth Estate has a well-managed deer park which you can visit all year round. Take a picnic or enjoy a gentle walk and you’ll see the estate's fallow and red deer on your visit. Nearest campsite: Bakewell Club Site
- Exmoor National Park is home to around 3,000 red deer. You can book to go on a tour, but walkers will often come across a herd by chance. Nearest campsite: Lynton Club Site
Where to see sharks in the UK
You may be surprised to hear that around 30 different species of shark visit the British coast each year and the number is on the rise.
- Cornwall is often frequented by sharks during the summer months. Basking sharks are the most common species you’ll see here followed by blue sharks. Set yourself up on a clifftop for great coastal views or join one of the many boat tours for a chance at seeing one. View our Cornish campsites
- In the Hebrides, the summer months welcome basking sharks to the west coast of Scotland. You’ll find many boat trips set off from Oban and travel around the isles to popular feeding sites. You’ll get the chance to swim and snorkel with the sharks or watch from the boat. Nearest campsite: Oban Club Site
- Head to Dorset, otherwise known as the Jurassic Coast for a glimpse of a blue, thrasher or basking shark. Lyme Bay is a great spot for keeping a lookout and you might also get to see minke whales and common dolphins during your visit. View our campsites in Dorset
Where to see puffins in the UK
Puffins spend the winter out at sea which means you’ll need to visit a breeding colony in spring or summer to see the sea parrots as they’re commonly called. Most places you’ll be able to see puffins need to be reached by boat. We’ve put a few of the top recommended locations below:
- The Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, are some of the best places to see puffins up close. Nearest campsite: Beadnell Bay Club Site
- Skomer Island in Wales is carefully managed to protect the habitat, but you can book on to a day trip and take part in the regular birdwatching walks and events. Nearest campsite: St Davids Club Site
- Bempton Cliffs Nature Reserve in Yorkshire sees around 1 million seabirds gather on the cliffs through March to October. Visit from April – July for the best chance at seeing puffins. Nearest Campsite: Scarborough Club Site
Where to see seals in the UK
Over 30% of the worlds grey seal population calls Britain home. It’s easy to see seals in the UK, but please make every effort not to disturb breeding colonies. Staying a good distance away, not getting between a seal and her pup, keeping dogs on leads and staying as quiet as possible are just a few of the ways to keep interference to a minimal level.
- The Blakeney National Nature Reserve in Norfolk is great to visit from November through to January when the grey seals give birth. The best way to see the colony is on a boat trip from Morston Quay. Nearest campsite: West Runton Club Site
- The Orkney Islands in Scotland are one of the best places to go seal watching in the UK. Orkney is home to around 30,000 resident seals, the majority of which are grey seals. The autumn months are the best to visit here as the grey seals give birth. View all of our Scottish campsites.
Best places to see starling murmurations
The sight of thousands of starlings swooping and moving in perfect unison is a fascinating experience. Late September through to the end of autumn is the best time of year to see the roosts. Wildlife is notoriously unpredictable, but the locations below are regularly treated to the starling murmurations.
Where to see beavers in the UK
We sadly hunted beavers to extinction in the UK in the 16th century, but the great news is that reintroduction efforts mean beavers are back!
- Knapdale Forest in Scotland was the first site of reintroduction in 2009, and in 2016 it was announced that beavers were allowed to remain in Scotland. Today, you can walk along the Beaver Detective Trail and if you time it just right you may be lucky to spot one. Nearest campsite: Oban Club Site
- The River Otter has good public access and is home to a number of beavers. You’ll see evidence of them around the river if you walk the 12-mile path from Budleigh Salterton to Honiton. Nearest campsite: Charmouth Club Site
Those are just a few of the fascinating species that we're lucky enough to have in the UK. Why not try your hand at birdwatching around our club sites? Or, head off to view more holiday ideas.