RSPB Bempton Cliffs in East Yorkshire - credit Mark Smales

Take a staycation in nature this summer

RSPB England has revealed its “top 20 staycations in nature” to visit this summer, as holidaymakers across the country seek new places to visit without going abroad. 

For many, travelling to other countries conjures up the possibility of discovering incredible creatures, secret wildernesses and spectacular scenery. With over 100 nature reserves across England, the RSPB are keen to show just how many dramatic landscapes and how much wonderful wildlife there is to be discovered closer to home. Whether it’s wild city breaks, a trip to the seaside, adventurous mountains, enchanted forests or the tranquillity of a stroll through whispering reeds and wetlands, the UK’s largest nature conservation charity has a destination for everyone to #EscapeTheEveryday.  

Wild city breaks

Spotting wildlife is perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when picturing a city break, but these nature reserves are within easy access of some of England’s top cities, so if it’s a more urban trip you’re after, why not combine some sight-seeing with natural history at the following locations: 

RSPB Old Moor (near Sheffield) 

RSPB Rainham Marshes (near London) 

RSPB Saltholme (near Durham) 

RSPB Sandwell Valley (near Birmingham) 

RSPB St Aidan’s (near Leeds)  

Beside the seaside

Golden sandy beaches, pebble strewn shorelines and striking cliff faces aren’t only the preserve of a holiday in the Mediterranean. They can be found in some of the most nature-rich corners of England, and are particularly apparent on these flagship RSPB nature reserves: 

RSPB Arne (Dorset) 

RSPB Bempton Cliffs (East Yorkshire) 

RSPB Minsmere (Suffolk) 

RSPB Titchwell Marsh (Norfolk) 

Children engaging in activities on the reserve, RSPB Sandwell Valley Nature Reserve, West Midlands, March

Enchanted forests

There’s something about taking a stroll through trees that is soothing for the soul. With so many legends and folklores wrapped up in England’s forests, they are the perfect place to let your imagination carry you away into a fairy tale land. Discover three of the most magical: 

RSPB Coombes Valley (Staffordshire) 

RSPB Sherwood Forest (Nottinghamshire) 

RSPB The Lodge (Bedfordshire) 

Adventurous Mountains

 As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lake District is very popular for exploring England’s mountains, but while the masses often head to the honeypot areas of Windermere and Keswick, the RSPB’s Haweswater nature reserve, in partnership with landowners United Utilities, is a hidden gem just waiting to be uncovered in this secluded corner of the National Park. Along with taking a hike up the rugged, mountainous landscape of Harter Fell or High Street, unique wildlife experiences are also on offer such as badger watching and red squirrel photography, from the site’s purpose-built hides. Find out more:  

RSPB Haweswater (Cumbria) 

Tranquil wetlands 

Going for a walk through the calming surroundings of a wetland, with the rustling of reeds and the backdrop of bird song, does wonders for mental and physical wellbeing. Whether you’re an early bird up with the dawn chorus, you enjoy a saunter past peaceful pools in the middle of the day, or prefer an evening stroll as the sun sets, these popular nature reserves are marvellous for mindfulness at any time of day: 

RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands (Cheshire) 

RSPB Dungeness (Kent) 

RSPB Ham Wall (Somerset) 

RSPB Lakenheath Fen (Suffolk) 

RSPB Leighton Moss (Lancashire) 

RSPB Pulborough Brooks (Sussex) 

RSPB Strumpshaw Fen (Norfolk) 

Speaking of the charity’s list of top 20 staycations in nature, Annabel Rushton from RSPB England said:“Wildlife and the outdoors has brought much needed solace for many of us in challenging times over the past couple of years, with over half of people in the UK turning to and noticing the nature around them more during the pandemic (1). Now, we hope that this connection to the natural world can grow, with more people seeking staycations in nature to refresh, relax and look after their wellbeing.”  

Wherever you are, to find your nearest RSPB nature reserve, and explore what it has to offer visit rspb.org.uk/reserves  

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