Category Archives: Nature tourism in the UK

Best beaches for beachcombing

The name “beachcombers” was first given to a motley crew of European castaways and ship’s crew deserters making a living as best they could on South Pacific islands.

Modern beachcombers can be quite serious about their activity, becoming experts on storms, ocean currents and seasonal events to increase their chance of an exciting find.  Among the mounds of seaweed, tangled fishing nets and plastic bottles, booty can include shells, driftwood, semi-precious stones, and the content of lost shipping containers.

A list has been drawn up of Britain’s top ten beachcombing beaches, taking into account tidal variation and gradient, as well as safety and accessibility.  The photograph,  which captures the absorption of beachcombing, is of Westward Ho! Devon,  and it accompanies a Guardian article on activity holidays.

1. Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire
2. Newgale Beach, Pembrokeshire
3. Westward Ho! Beach, Devon
4. Cowes, Isle of Wight
5. Camber, East Sussex
6. Frinton on Sea, Frinton Beach, Essex
7. Herne Bay East, Kent
8. Barmston, East Yorkshire
9. Combe Martin Beach, Devon
10. Cresswell Dunes & Foreshore, Northumberland

The Guardian:  Activity holidays in the UK

Camping on Mull

The Isle of Mull is one of my favourite places in the British Isles. This place offers camping and bungalows next to the sea with views of Ben Nevis and the Caingorns. This is great base for exploring the island. There are otters on site on the loch and a seal colony nearby. Dolphins can occasionally be seen in the Sound of Mull from here. The owners note:

“Sea otters and red deer are regulars, and dolphins and porpoises are occasional visitors. Birds include terns, cormorants, eiders, curlews, herons, and buzzards, and you can watch gannets diving for fish out at sea. Golden and sea eagles occasionally fly past, and we can tell you how to find them off site.”

The best wildlife holidays in Britain

Interesting list here from The Guardian of its top ten wildlife holidays in Britain, including “Red Deer Rut” on Isle of Rum, watching wildcats in the Cairngorms, watching beavers in Gloucestershire, learning about butterflies on Dartmore, finding reptiles in the New Forest, and plenty more bedsides.
The Guardian

Wild camping in Britain

If you really want to feel you’re in the great outdoors, you should try wild camping. It’s more exciting, it’s free and you really feel part of the countryside. It is generally only legal in England and Wales with the prior permission of the landowner, though in most cases, if you ask nicely you probably won’t be refuesed.
Follow these rules: keep out of sight and away from livestock, do not build open fires, do not camp in large groups, respect the environment, stay for one night only, and follow the wild camper’s mantra: “pitch late, leave early.”
While you should also follow the above rules, things are easier in Scotland. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 makes wild camping legal in most cases as long as practised away from homes and roads.

The Guardian has this excellent article on wild camping. It gives recommendations, in addition to much of Scotland, for Dartmoor, The Berwyn mountains, North Wales, South Downs and The North Pennines.
The Guardian

For Scotland see: the Scottish Outdoor Access Code

Watching pine martens

The Aigas Field Centre in Scotland offer you the chance watch wild Pine Martens and Badgers from their own specially-built hide. It was originally built to watch Badgers, which still visit the feeding station every night, but the Martens also took a liking to the spot, and are a regular visitor.The people who run it say “We encourage the mammals to visit by putting out a small amount of peanuts and a tablespoon of jam. The food is merely to entice them in – by no means do we sustain them or interfere with their territoriality.” They claim that the success rate for seeing Pine Martens during each 2 hour hide visit is a remarkable 95%, all through the year. They also promise prolonged views of feeding and playing Martens at distance of between 6 and 30 feet. The field centre looks a great place to stay offering “Wildlife, Birdwatching, History & Nature Holidays in the Highlands of Scotland”. More on this soon.
Visit the Aigas Pine Marten and Badger hide

Electric canal barge holidays

The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal threads through some of the most beautiful scenery in South Wales. With it’s industrial life is over, it offers the opportunity to see the Welsh countryside from your very own self-drive diseal or electric narrow boat. The canal covers 33 navigable miles from Brecon to Pontypool. Average cruising speed is 2-3 miles per hour so you will need at least a week to enjoy the canal.
More from Castle Narrowboats.

Guardian review “The owners of Castle Narrowboats, Nick and Sharon Mills, patiently briefed us on the workings of what is one of only two electric narrowboats for hire in Britain – the other one is theirs too – and answered our landlubber questions with admirable patience.”