5 best UK weekend wildlife destinations

Make the most of your weekend by heading to one of these wildlife hotspots. 

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1 The Cairngorms

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You have a good chance of seeing mammals such as red deer, red squirrels and pine martens, and birds including ospreys (at the right time of year), golden eagles and ptarmigan within a mere two days – and all within scenery ranging from mountains to Caledonian pine forests.

2 Dartmoor and Exmoor

Exmoor and Dartmoor – two of the wilder parts of south-west England – are both renowned for good populations of buzzards and ravens in woodland and upland areas, dippers along rivers and (in spring and summer) nesting waders. Exmoor is also known for its red deer rut in October.

3 New Forest

There are small populations of both red and non-native sika deer in the New Forest (along with fallow and roe deer), while the national park is something of a stronghold for grass snakes and adders. As autumn comes to an end and winter arrives, you can expect visits from raptors such as hen harriers, peregrines and short-eared owls.

4 Suffolk/Norfolk coast

From Snettisham in The Wash to Minsmere and Dingle Marshes in Suffolk, the East Anglian coast is one of the best places to go birding in the UK. Autumn sees a build-up of overwintering waders, and winter brings spectacular numbers of pink-footed geese, bar-tailed godwits and knot.

5 North and mid-Wales

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Visit Anglesey for its red squirrels and Nant yr Arian Visitor Centre for its red kites. Ynys-hir RSPB reserve has gathering numbers of ducks and waders as autumn turns into winter, while Snowdonia (the Rhinog Mountains and the Glyders, especially) has feral goats that rut in September.