If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that domestic travel can be as adventurous and rewarding as travelling abroad. In fact, the UK is abundant with adventure-led and ethical wildlife experiences, not to mention a wealth of cultural and community-focused initiatives – you just need to know where to find them.
Husband and wife team, Dan and Rachel Brown, launched Wild Discovery to help showcase north-eastern Scotland’s wild and, often, little visited surroundings. As experienced naturalists, they were even featured in the recent BBC series, Wild Isles, led by Sir David Attenborough.
From e-Bike safaris in the Cairngorms, Caledonian forest and lowland heaths, to guided self-drive tours through the upper Deeside, the tours are an opportunity to learn about the wildlife in and around Scotland. Whether its red deer and mountain hares or birds of prey that peak your interests, there is something for all ages to enjoy.
Even better, at the heart of Wild Discovery is the passion to conserve. Food options on tours are locally sourced, accommodation tends to be community-run and you’ll be learning about nature from qualified ecologists. Additionally, from July to September, a series of workshops focusing on locating and identifying wildlife species such as whales, dolphins, seabirds and moths, take place across the UK – which visitors are also welcome to join.
More information: wild-discovery.com
This national touring exhibition from the Migration Museum, shares the complex and inspiring story of how the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) came to exist 75 years ago. At the centre of this history are migrants from around the world, and their stories are just as diverse and inspiring as the institution itself. Using photographs, film and oral history, this immersive experience shares stories of the people who have been at the heart of the NHS. The exhibition runs until October at Leicester’s Museum & Art Gallery.
More information: migrationmuseum.org
Located in the Hope Valley, within Peak District National Park, Pure Outdoor introduces visitors to the stunning mountain and hill-top scenery by absolute immersion into this spectacular English countryside backdrop.
With skilled, local instructors, adventure-seekers are invited to learn practical outdoor skills in hillwalking, mountain biking, climbing, caving and bouldering. Families and friendship groups, as well as teams of colleagues, can join the typically one to two-day courses – which range from ‘taster’ to ‘improver’ level. With the phrase ‘leave no trace’ at the core of the operation, Pure Outdoor works with a minimal footprint policy. Trails are well maintained and activities always conducted in an ethical manner to ensure no impact on the environment or nature.
More information: pureoutdoor.co.uk
In St. Davids, the UK’s smallest city, Falcon Boats takes naturalist-led tours to nearby Ramsey and Skomer Islands to see some of the UK’s incredible marine life throughout the summer. From April to July, Atlantic puffins can be seen in their thousands around the rugged cliffs of Skomer – where the birds nests over the summer months. Atlantic grey seals, meanwhile, are typically seen from late August to November as they arrive on land at Ramsey for breeding season.
On the short rib boat ride to the islands, led by Ffion Rees and her team of skilled marine experts, you can spot common and rissos dolphins, harbour porpoise and even the odd minke whale, along with a variety of seabirds such as shearwaters – 350,000 pairs nest on Skomer.
More information: falconboats.co.uk
Running until 5 November 2023, this exhibition at Lancaster's Judges’ Lodgings looks back at the Black Lancastrians living in the area in the 1700s. At the time, the city was the fourth largest slave trading port in England – with enslavement ships making hundreds of voyages to and from West Africa. As a result, there are vital stories to be told.
The exhibition tells of the lives of several Black Lancastrians who lived through enslavement, their intricate stories depicted through portraits – commissioned by artist Lela Harris – family memories, runaway slave advertisements and church records. The items and furniture on display are those bought by Lancaster families who were involved in the Atlantic slave trade.
More information: lancashire.gov.uk
The history of the Argaty beavers goes back to 2021, when a small family of animals – who were expected to be culled – were relocated to the unfenced ponds on the Argaty working farm-estate in Stirlingshire, on the outskirts of the Scottish Highlands. In 2022, a second family – also due to lose their lives – were safely released.
Today, the animals thrive in the Argaty environment. The Argaty Beaver Tour takes guests, young and old, on an ecological and historical journey to discover the upland pond environment in which the animals live. Here, you can learn about the endemic beaver’s physiology and unique behaviours – including how they engineer their own homes.
Elsewhere on the farm, the famous Argaty red kites have been gathering since 1996 – where owners Lynn and Niall first worked alongside the RSPB to create a safe habitat. Since then, Argaty has become a spot for birdwatchers to congregate. Visitors are welcome to stay onsite at the three-bedroom self-catering Argaty Cottage.
More information: argatyredkites.co.uk
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