Top 5 UK Rewilding Holiday Destinations
How you can support the sites that are really pushing rewilding forward.
We’ve done a deep dive into UK rewilding destinations and found the best sites to visit, where your stay will genuinely help to subsidise the cost of rewilding projects.
Shepherd huts and camping on a captive breeding site.
A hidden gem of UK rewilding and home to a celebrated conservation maverick, Rewilding Coombeshead is situated between Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor, with beautiful views towards both.
Here, you’ll find a massive captive breeding programme with the ambitious goal to repopulate the UK with our lost fauna, from Water Voles to Beavers, Wildcats to Storks. But this isn’t a zoo masquerading as a rewilding project – far from it – 3,500 Water Voles are sent out from Coombeshead each summer and the goal is to breed 40 Wildcat kittens here each year. The work that farmer Derek Gow is doing is important, and the holiday business which runs alongside it, is a way to help make ends meet.
The cute shepherds hut accommodation with composting toilets sit at the edge of the area being rewilded, with opportunities to see Water Buffalo, Wild Pigs and Exmoor Ponies. Camping is also available on site in the meadow and all visitors get a complimentary tour of the animal breeding sites, including the Beaver dam! Dedicated platforms allow a better view of the wildlife, especially in the evenings, when the light here is perfect for photography.
Rustic glamping and safaris in the UK’s top rewilding destination.
Probably the most well-known rewilding project in the UK, the Knepp Estate is a 3,500 acre swathe of the Sussex Weald that has been restored with passion and insight. There’s an incredible diversity of wildlife here, from rare Purple Emperor butterflies, Turtle Doves and Nightingales to introduced Fallow Deer, Longhorn Cattle and Exmoor Ponies, which maintain the wood pasture habitat.
The treehouse accommodation is quite spectacular, especially in autumn, when you can hear Red Deer bellowing in the distance as you drift off to sleep. However, depending on what level of comfort you prefer, there’s everything from shepherd’s huts to standard camping pitches available.
Guests are free to use the public footpaths to explore the vast rewilded area for free, or there are guided safari tours for an extra fee. Wild swimming is exclusively available for campsite visitors, where you’ll share the water with Coots and Moorhens – Knepp have helpfully provided showers for rinsing off after your swim.
Fritton Lake at Somerleyton
Luxury accommodation on a vast new rewilding site.
Since 2017, 1000 acres of the magnificent Somerleyton Estate has been dedicated to rewilding, with the holiday site branded as ‘Fritton Lake’. Hugh Somerleyton himself is the founder of WildEast – a regional charity encouraging landowners to pledge 20% of their land to rewilding. Across the rewilded land, Deer, Water Buffalo and Ponies are helping to open up woodland, while invasive Rhododendrons are being removed to allow native species access to sunlight.
The accommodation here is luxurious, especially compared to the rustic style you’ll find at many rewilding sites. There are modern woodland cabins, farm cottages or clubhouse rooms available, and all are beautifully decorated. Beyond the rooms, there is a wealth of activities on offer, from canoeing to tennis, wild swimming and yoga, so this is perfect for active holidaymakers.
Alladale Wilderness Reserve
Holiday cottages on a massive rewilded Scottish estate.
A true pioneer in the field of rewilding, Alladale was leading the way by blocking up drains in peat bogs before the need for peatland restoration was globally recognised. They have reforested huge areas of the estate with a native mixed woodland mosaic, protected from overgrazing by 20 miles of deer fencing.
Alladale is also home to part of the Wildcat captive breeding programme, though visitors are not allowed near these enclosures. However, a successful red squirrel reintroduction scheme is situated close to the Ghillie’s Rest and Eagle’s Crag cottages. As with most of Scotland, the Right to Roam applies across most of the estate, so you can wander the beautiful grounds for miles.
There are four buildings available for accommodation, including the above two cottages. More adventurous visitors might wish to stay at Deanich Lodge, which is considered to be one of the most remote holiday cottages in the UK and is the only self-catering option on site. Alladale Lodge is the grandest building here, sleeping up to 14 guests in a Victorian manor with spectacular views.
Trees for Life
Volunteer on a tree planting project in the Scottish Highlands.
Established back in the 1990s, with a woodland already under its belt, this Scottish charity is now offering holidays with a twist. ‘Voluntourism’ is apparently becoming a thing, and you can take part in a week of volunteering up in the beautiful Scottish highlands, with a day off to spend on whatever activity you choose. Accommodation, food, transport and safety equipment is provided, and you’ll be playing an important part in this project to rewild the Highland landscape.
Volunteers will not just be planting trees – they’ll also be helping to grow and care for them at the nursery. But the work is pretty physically demanding, as you can probably imagine, so fitness is a pre-requisite, although able-bodiedness is not mentioned in their description, so people with certain disabilities might not be eligible.
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