Category Archives: Nature tourism in the UK

Cruises around the Western Isles

Cruises on board a gaff cutter to St Kilda, the Orkneys, the Shetlands and North Rona, as well as the Hebrides, as well as the Hebrides. Boarding usually at Mallaig. See a wide variety of wildlife at close quarters, from whales (Sperm, Killer, Northern Bottlenose and Sei whales. and of course Minke), dolphins and basking sharks to red deer, eagles and otters. If you would like to find out more about what we see, take our Hebridean wildlife tour.

Island Cruising in The Hebrides: cruise to remote Islands around the Hebrides. We specialise in trips to St Kilda and some of the following Islands en route, Scarp, Taransay, Monach Isles and the Flannan Isles. The trips are either of 4 days or 6 days duration and the itinerary is worked out as we go along. North Rona, Sula Sgeir and the Shiant Isles can also be visited, as can Mingulay and the Southern Isles.

Sea kayaking in Skye

Go sea kayaking around the Isle of Skye. Plenty of opportunities to see puffins and seals. The place says

“Thanks to to the number of protected bays around the island, it is nearly always possible to kayak somewhere suitable. Uig Bay is a perfect place to go for a safe and enjoyable paddle, exploring the local wildlife. Secluded beaches and beautiful bays, sometimes only accessible by kayak” Visit site

Mountain biking in Skye

This article reminds us here that thanks to Scotland’s open access laws you can mountain bike on the Isle of Skye just about whereever you feel like it. If you can put up with the wind, the terrain and the vastness of its scale. The Guardian

If you don’t fancy going it alone try Bespoke mountain bike tours of Skye by Highlands and Islands Adventures. Price for a long weekend is £300 per person.

Books about the Isle of Skye

Collins Rambler’s Guide – Isle of Skye

Produced in association with the Ramblers, this walking guide covers the beautiful Isle of Skye and combines detailed route descriptions with information on the local history and wildlife.

This famous corner of the Scottish Highlands and Islands is home to a spectacular variety of mountain landscapes and dramatic coastlines. There is also a wealth of fascinating places to explore: caves and sea stacks, headlands and arches, waterfalls and castles.

The introduction gives information about the topography, geology and history of the area, and describes the flora and fauna inhabiting it.

Isle of Skye: 40 Coast and Country Walks (Pocket Mountains)

An excellent little walking guide, especially for those – like me – wanting to explore as many parts of the Isle of Skye as possible in a visit. Arranged roughly by ‘peninsular’, there are walks ranging from 45 minutes to a few hours, even a day. We did at least one from each section and they were all straightforward and, of course, beautiful!

Where to watch whales in Britain

The Guardian has put together this list of the best whale watching locations in the UK. It mentions the follwoing sites.

  • Moray Firth: as was shown on Springwatch you can watch the most northerly known population of bottlenose dolphins right from the shore – often only a few feet from the shingle. No binos needed! The best place to view them is Chanonry Point on the Black Isle. Humpback whales can also be spotted in the outer Moray Firth. Visit
  • The best place to watch Killer whales is the Shetland Isles, especially at Esha Ness. They are becoming commoner.
  • Isle of Mull – minke whales. Mull was the first place in Britain to offer dedicated whale-watching More here
  • Cardigan Bay has a population of 130 bottlenose dolphins which can be seen from the shore at New Quay. The pods feed here from April to September.
  • St David’s Head in Pembrokeshire: dolphins and possibility of fin whales in the summer.Here
  • Common dolphins can be seen at Durleston Head in Dorset.
  • Sites in Cornwall: Lizard Point, Gwennap Head and Cape Cornwall for dolphins, pilot, killer and minke whales

Dangers of wild swimming?

I love this site Wild Swimming, a guide to Britain’s outdoor swimming places with lots of information on where to have a dip in rivers, lakes and coves with the help of a Wild Swimming map. The web also includes a section on the dangers of wild river swimming (slipping on rocks, hypothermia and cold-shock, jumping and diving, cramps and solo-swimming, weeds, blue–green algae, ‘swimmer’s itch’, Weil’s disease, fast water, currents, waterfalls, weirs) but put these into context:

About 400 people drown every year in the UK, but only a tiny percentage of these drown while outdoor swimming. An analysis of recent annual accident data shows that of the 12 per cent of drowning victims who died while actually swimming, 7 people drowned in swimming pools, 11 in the sea, tidal pools and estuaries, and 7 in rivers, lakes, reservoirs or canals. In addition there were 8 who died swimming drunk, 30 who died through ‘jumping in’ to water and 17 who died in ‘jumping and diving accidents’. 95 per cent of all swimming drowning victims were male and many were teenagers. More here

Camping in Cardigan Bay

Nant y Croi Farm caravan and camping site has wonderful views over Cardigan Bay. Nearby there are beaches at Mwnt Poppit Sands, Aberporth, Llangranog, Tresaith & New Quay. Seals and Dolphins are regular visitors to the rocks and seas around the edge of the farm. There is direct access to Mwnt beach via a foot path from the farm yard.  The farm extends over lush green land gently sloping to the coast and has it’s own private cove ideal for swimming and enjoying sea-life. Visit this site

Cheese making courses

Abbey Home Farm, near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, offers day cheese making courses: learnabout the various cultures & methods used to make a variety of cheeses, also discuss butter & yoghurt production. All methods shown can be easily adapted for home production. The soft cheese you make will be ready to collect 2-3 weeks later to enjoy at home (delivered by post). Held in the creamery at Abbey Home Farm. large organic farm shop and camping is also available. £60 inc light organic lunch. Postage of cheese extra. Basic pitches (compost loo and cold water tap) from £4/night.

Note: Organic Producer of the Year 1999 “Unhomogenized milk, yoghurt, cream and cheese straight from our 15 shorthorns on the farm.  All our own bacon, beef, lamb, pork, ham and chicken.Eggs warm from the hens, honey from the bees and ready meals from our production kitchen”.  Visit site

Wild food course

wild greens soup
Soup with alexanders & lesser celandine.

Interesting course on gathering and cooking wild foods. The Wild Food School in Cornwall offer 2-day, day and half-day courses in which students can gain hands-on experience in identifying and using as many as 90 odd edible wild plants in the UK. There are also guided walks on the subject. Looks great fun.

“Ever eaten nettles? Or even some of the edible thistles? Well how about telling your friends that you’ve become a wild food gourmet, eating those edible weeds chickweed and bulrush, and know all about finding and cooking food from the wild? If that’s the sort of thing that tickles your fancy, then Wild Food School courses are probably the sort of thing that will capture your imagination…” .

Note: the courses are run by Ethnobotanist-Forager Marcus Harrison, author of a series of wild food cookbooks who has had an interest in wild foods for over 30 years. Prices: Day and Introductory courses – £30-85 pp. / W/E & 2-day courses – £160 pp.

Visit The Wild Food School

Best coastal walks in Britain

Since Britain’s weather doesn’t always encourage sunbathing on the beach, an alternative way to enjoy the sea is walking near it. Yet another handy list from The Guardian covers  10 of the country’s best coastal walks.  Most aren’t longer than 6 – 8 miles, realistically taking into account the tempting distractions you might come across, including rock pools, fossils, windmills and seals.  The walks reflect the variety of Britain’s coastal landscapes, such as the vertiginous cliffs of Beachy Head and the eternal sands of Holkham, as well as a section of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.

The list was put together by Martin Wainwright, author of The Coast to Coast Walk.  Read in the Guardian

Best birdwatching locations in Britain

Stephen Moss in the Guardian has put together this useful list of his favourite birdwatching spots in the UK: everything from huge flocks of geese, wild seabird colonies, red kites, rare birds, avocets and home-counties bird fairs. He recommends Caerlaverock, Castle Espie (“the perfect introduction to this avian wonderland”), Exe estuary (a boat trip is the ideal way to experience these wild creatures where they really belong), Farne Islands (“Watch puffins loafing around their burrow entrances, get mobbed by terns, and enjoy a chorus of kittiwakes calling out their name – simply unforgettable”), Gigrin Farm, Isles of Scilly, Loch Garten, Minsmere. Rutland Waterand  Slimbridg.

Read in the Guardian

Kayaking in the Shetlands

Explore the stunning coastline of the Shetlands, with its sheltered coves, sea cliffs, remote islands, clear waters and abundant wildlife from a sea kayak. Trips are accompanied by a fully qualified local leader. Kayaking gives you access to remote parts of Shetland’s spectacular coastline and is also one of the best ways to see Shetland’s wildlife with great viewing of seals, otters, puffins and guillemots.

The beach with the best views in Britain

The view from the beach at Scarista on South Harris is simply stunning. This beach is huge with lots of room for bucket and spading, crabbing and paddling and windsurfing. Wonderful walks for exploring the beach and sealife, but watch out for large shoals of various jellyfish that get washed ashore at certain times of year. On the other hand, the waters around the Hebrides are the cleanest in the UK. Views of the Hills of Harris and the Isle of Taransay where the BBC filmed their series “Castaway

Organic farm stay in Sussex

Beech Hill Farm is an organically run 20 acre small farm with rare breed sheep. The farm is set in the unspoilt countryside of the Sussex High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 4 4tar ETC rated self-catering accommodation is available. “You can visit Beech Hill Farm by yourself for a rural retreat or with friends: there is the Studio, The Coach House” In 2004 Beech Hill Farm won two Awards; SEEDA Sustainable Business Award for Resource Efficiency and BETRE Green Action Award for their Rain-Harvesting Scheme in 2005 Beech Hill Farm took part in the RSPB Farm and Volunteer Alliance Scheme and have recorded over 50 varieties of birds including a number on the Red and Amber list for endangered species.