The UK is home to a wide variety of wildlife and nature just waiting to be discovered. From coastal wetlands to national parks, from rare and unusual birds to pretty plants, to marine mammals and majestic deer, this unique land will surprise you.

Here is our guide to the best nature reserves in the UK.


Lizard National Nature Reserve, Cornwall

Located on the UK's mainland's most southerly point you'll find the Lizard Nature Reserve.

Cornwall is one of the most naturally beautiful and rugged areas of the UK, rich in heritage, nature and plenty of stunning beaches making it one of the best nature reserves in the UK.

The Lizard Nature Reserve boasts an abundance of flora and fauna, including and many rare plant species. Visitors will enjoy the coastal views and dogs are also welcome.

There are plenty of wonderful places to stay in Lizard as well as nearby Helston, to make your holiday that extra bit special.

Rutland Water, East Midlands

Despite being a man-made reservoir, Rutland Water Nature Reserve is a haven for wildlife and has played a vital role in helping to grow the UK Osprey population due to a scheme started in 2001. The project has been a great success and saw the first Ospreys born in Central England in over 150 years.

Birding enthusiasts will enjoy walks around the reservoir and the best time to visit is from April to September when the Ospreys are at their most active. There are two visitor's centres and they also provide a number of activities for you to take part in.


Photo by Steve Walker under CC BY 2.0 licence.

Donna Nook, Lincolnshire

Part of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, Donna Nook is a sanctuary for grey seals who give birth to their pups along the coast every November and December.

The UK is home to about 40% of the world's population of grey seals and both kids and adults alike will enjoy watching them rest and play on the sand. Viewing platforms allows visitors to observe the seals from a safe distance, but don't get too close... they can bite!

The reserve also borders the Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe National Nature and both the city of Lincoln and the seaside town of Skegness are just a stone's throw away, making a holiday to Lincolnshire a fun family destination.

Insh Marshes, Scottish Highlands

Managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Insh Marshe is part of the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands. It lies between the cities of Perth, Aberdeen and Inverness and is a great stopping point on any Scottish road trip.

The area is known for being one of the most important nature reserves in Europe and keen birders can observe various species such as lapwings, redshanks, Scottish crossbills (Britain's only unique bird), and goldeneye ducks from two purpose-built bird-watching shelters. During the winter months, you'll also find greylag geese and whooper swans in residence.


Photo by Richard Allaway under CC BY 2.0 licence.
Lundy Island, Devon

Sitting pretty off the North Devon coast, you will find Lundy, a tiny island in the spot where the Bristol Channel meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Lundy Island, though small at only three miles long and one and a half miles wide, contains a variety of wildlife. Those who make the journey may be lucky enough to see wild ponies, seals, bottlenose dolphins, basking sharks, and harbour porpoises.

Visitors are taken over to the island by the MS Oldenburg which sails three times per week in the summer months, leaving from the seaside towns of Bideford or Ilfracombe.

This area of the UK is filled with fantastic beaches making North Devon holidays an ever-popular choice for families, couples, and groups.

Blacka Moor, South Yorkshire

Lying on the Eastern Peak District Moors, you'll find beautiful Blacka Moor, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to red deer, the UK's largest native animal, as well as bilberry bumblebees and a wide variety of birds.

Nearby, you'll find the pretty towns of Bakewell and Matlock, as well as Chatsworth House, which doubled as Pemberley in the Pride and Prejudice film starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.

A holiday in the Peak District will keep nature, history, and literary fans well occupied.


Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire

One of the UK's true wildlife treasures is Skomer Island in Wales. This tiny but stunning island is home to guillemots and razorbills while seals swim in the waters around the islands, but the bird that everyone goes there to see is the puffin.

These cute and iconic birds are used to visitors, so you should be able to get a good view of them. However, the island is only open from April to September as the puffins are only in residence during the summer months, so you may be disappointed if you visit at any other time.

July is known to be the best month to see puffins, whilst May is when the bluebells are in full bloom.

Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve, Cumbria

In the Northwest of England, close to the Lake District National Park, lies Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve, a coastal reserve with beautiful views over the Duddon Estuary.

The sand dunes in this area create a unique environment that supports a number of different wildlife species including the great crested newt and rare natterjack toad.

Sandscale Haws is only a 45-minute Coniston Water and Lake Windermere making it an ideal addition to a holiday in the Lake District.

Giant's_Causeway.jpg?1554597503Photo by Giuseppe Milo under CC BY 2.0 licence.Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

Besides being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and natural geological phenomenon, the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland is an excellent place to appreciate nature.

Visitors can learn the legends of how the Giant's Causeway came to be, whilst bird spotting and marvelling at the pretty wildflowers.

Northern Ireland is relatively small, so it's easy to visit a few different areas in a short space of time, allowing you to get the most out of your Northern Ireland holiday.

Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire

This restored site has gone from strength to strength and has recently been named as one of the world's top 10 eco-friendly destinations by BBC Wildlife Magazine.

The Attenborough Nature Reserve is home to a number of birds including waterfowl, kingfisher, woodpecker and even elusive otters.

The site lies just a few miles from Nottingham city centre on the River Trent, so you can combine your time at the reserve with a city break in the home of Robin Hood.

If you're interested in nature reserves in the UK, you might also want to check out the best nature reserves around the world or the top eco-friendly hotels in the world! And make sure to check out our travel hacks for travelling green, on Earth Day and every day.

What are your favourite nature reserves in the UK?