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Eight incredible rewilding projects to discover in the UK

If you’re keen to get closer to nature, there are an increasing number of places where tourism and rewilding work hand-in-hand to offer up a truly regenerative travel experience.

Published 28 Feb 2021, 08:05 GMT, Updated 11 Mar 2021, 17:54 GMT
The UK's landscapes are being reimagined by regenerative farming and innovative rewilding initiatives, many working symbiotically with ...

The UK's landscapes are being reimagined by regenerative farming and innovative rewilding initiatives, many working symbiotically with tourism projects.

Photograph by Getty Images

From wild gardening to greening cities and the creation of new sustainable woodland, the UK is embracing rewilding. And, increasingly, this includes our agricultural land. Vast swathes of our rural and agricultural landscapes are being reimagined by regenerative and organic farming, and innovative rewilding initiatives, working symbiotically with tourism projects to restore our landscapes back to the nature. We look at the latest places where you can join in, give back, and celebrate the natural world, from new farm glamping sites in Norfolk, where grazing wildstock and white-tailed eagles are being reintroduced, to the world’s first rewilding centre in the Scottish Highlands.

1. Trees for Life, Scottish Highlands

Stay as a paying volunteer on conservation weeks with Trees for Life at the 10,000-acre Dundreggan rewilding estate (or at the conservation charity's bothy in Glen Affric). Watch this space for the world’s first rewilding centre, set to open here in 2022.

2. Wild Ennerdale, Cumbria

The upland site of Wild Ennerdale is alive with red squirrels, pied flycatchers, tree pipits, wood warblers, ring ouzels, wheatears, skylarks, snipes, England’s largest population of marsh fritillary butterflies and our only migrating population of Arctic charr. Stay at YHA accommodation on site.

Morning mist at Mar Lodge Estate in Cairngorms National Park, Britain’s largest National Nature Reserve.

Photograph by Alamy

3. Mar Lodge, Cairngorms

Stay in Britain’s largest National Nature Reserve in the heart of the Cairngorms, where reintroduced Caledonian pines are populated by red squirrels, golden eagles and black grouse. Accommodation is at the Victorian hunting lodge and cottages, run by the National Trust for Scotland. 

Read more: How travellers can support the UK's revolutionary rewilding projects

4. RSPB reserves, nationwide

The RSPB has championed some of the biggest species success stories in UK conservation, from the reintroduction of red kites to ospreys. Stay as a volunteer with RSPB Haweswater, in the Lake District National Park, where teeming upland wildlife thrive alongside sustainable farming.

5. Scotland, The Big Picture

The Big Picture charity, which carries out rewilding advocacy, also runs retreats across Scotland that support and celebrate wild nature, from wilderness weekends in the Cairngorms National Park to an on-foot exploration of the remote Knoydart Peninsula and more. 

Partnering with the Wildwood Trust, Kent Wildlife Trust will import and release European bison at a former pine wood plantation near Canterbury in 2022.

Photograph by Getty Images

6. Blean Woods, Kent

Partnering with the Wildwood Trust, Kent Wildlife Trust will import and release European bison at a former pine wood plantation near Canterbury. Like beavers, this keystone species is an ecosystem engineer that helps rewild woodlands. The bison will be introduced to their new home in spring 2022, and after settling into a fenced area, the site will open to the public.

7. River Otter, Devon

Beavers, which are a ‘keystone species’ that can positively impact biodiversity and water quality, were reintroduced to the UK in 2009 after an absence of around 500 years, in the Knapdale Forest, Argyll, and into an enclosed area of East Devon’s River Otter. Since then, more have appeared elsewhere on the river, where you can stay at a farm with safari-style glamping.

8. Sheepdrove Organic Farm, West Berkshire

This established organic farm, owned by environmental campaigners Peter and Juliet Kindersley, is on a journey towards rewilding a cluster of fields, woodland and scrub at the heart of the 2,500-acre site, set on rolling chalk downland. Stay in an off-grid, eco-friendly boathouse for two, and explore the physic garden planted by renowned herb grower, Jekka McVicar. 

The Carpathian Mountains offer Europe’s most extensive unfragmented forest, home to the continent’s largest population of wolves, bears and lynx. 

Photograph by Getty Images

Further afield: three rewilding destinations in Europe
 

1. Carpathian Mountains, Romania
Take a week’s trip with The European Nature Trust, in partnership with Steppes Travel, to the wilds of the Carpathian Mountains to explore Europe’s most extensive unfragmented forest, home to the continent’s largest population of wolves, bears and lynx. 

2. Saxony, Germany
Go wild on a wolf conservation volunteer expedition to Germany, to the lowlands of Lower Saxony, with Biosphere Expeditions, to camera trap, track and monitor the predators, along with their prey species such as deer and wild boar, to help protect the returning population. 

3. Velebit Mountains, Croatia
Go hiking, biking, kayaking or horse-riding in an area of Croatia that’s home to some of Europe’s most elusive and unique wildlife: dolphins, brown bears, Balkan chamois, wolf and lynx. This is just one of many ‘safaris’ offered by the European Safari Company where 5% of the cost of your trip goes directly to the local Rewilding Europe organisation, to fund projects such as bear corridors in the Central Apennines, European bison release in the Southern Carpathians or the development of wildlife reserves in the Velebit Mountains.

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