My UK Nature Guide to help you through Coronavirus
The world is going through a really tricky time right now. Globally and here in the UK the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus is increasing day by day and to be honest it’s upending our way of life! Especially as public health officials agree that ‘social distancing’ is the new way to stop the spread...
HOWEVER this doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable! Luckily for you this is where a little creativity and NATURE comes in – a place where you won't encounter crowds and you can go and breathe some fresh air!
So, I have whipped up a list of my favourite nature spots around the UK
Including everything from big adventures to short walks, scenery to wildlife… with the hope of giving you ideas on how you can get outdoors while not being at risk or risking others with Coronavirus.
I would say this though – please do keep in mind your personal risk. If you are somebody who has a compromised immune system or are of an older age or you are showing signs of illness – it is recommended that you should stay at home.. so I have included some bits and bobs in here for you too..
Sit on the harbour wall in New Quay, Cardigan and watch Bottle-nose dolphins You could also head out on a boat with ‘Dolphin Survey Boat Trips’ however if you’re looking for peace and quiet I would highly recommend just sitting on the harbour wall for a chance to see some really great views of dolphins.. with coffee in hand! Make sure you pop into the fantastic Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre too.
Stack Rock & Green Bridge of Wales Spring is on its way and the seabirds are coming back to breed! Here you can find a dramatic natural rock arch and rock pillars on the south west coast of Pembrokeshire. The road to the Stack Rocks passes through an army tank range and is closed at certain times so make sure you check opening times.
Mumbles Hike & Sand Dunes Start in the National Trust Car Park in Rhossili and head on a circular route to Llangennith and back. It will be a total of around 8 miles through varied terrain and beautiful sand dunes - not one to miss! BEAUTIFUL ROUTE!
Walk under a waterfall Brecon Beacons National Park is home to some of the most dramatic waterfalls. I would recommend the four falls trail leading to Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr and Sgwd-yr-Eira (the waterfall you can walk behind) on the River Mellte in the heart of Waterfall Country.
Hike into the heart of the Brecon Beacons & look out for red kites
Go to Skomer Island which will be bursting with seabirds, seals and beautiful flora
The island is open from the 1st of April, Dale Sailing are the only operator that land you on the island – and they are fantastic. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates!
Llyn Peninsula – North Wales This peninsula is 'Snowdon's arm', a wildly beautiful and calm peninsula. Great for a walk or a sit on the beach with a picnic!
Coastal Path from New Quay to Cwntydu It’s a 4 mile hike finishing in New Quay where you can not only spot those bottle nose dolphins from the coastline but also seals, sea birds and other wildlife on the coastal path too
Wrap up warm, head to a beach and have a BBQ watching the sunset
Cwm Idal Hike, Snowdonia National Park This is a fantastic hike that has dramatic mountainous scenery. It is a bowl-shaped hollow filled with crystal clear waters of Llyn Idwal. The site is world famous for its rock formations and its rare and fragile plant life. Plus there’s a less people here than on the more popular Mount Snowdon. Easy walk just check the weather!
Blakeney Point coastal walk Roughly 4 miles long, you can see wildlife like short eared owls, beautiful sand dunes and lots of seals as in the breeding season this is one of the best places to see the hauled out colonies!
Hike Helvelyn at sunrise A popular hike in the Lake District with views of Striding Edge! This hike has easy access starting points with toilets and big car parks (Swirls Car Park is great). Plus if you go at dawn you can beat the rush and get those beautiful views. It does get windy here though so please do check the weather.
Road trip through the Lake District Why not try the Keswick Loop. It’s not the longest route (just 23 miles) but as Britain’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s one road trip you should definitely consider if you love the great outdoors. Full of beautiful lakes, rolling hills and incredible scenery to explore
Nanjizal beach for beautiful views in Cornwall Known as the secret beach of the south west. A fantastic beach and a beautiful hike along the way with wild flowers, birds, gorse and wild ponies to see along the way
Walk through the open green spaces in the heart of London An easy one! Richmond Park is an easy place to see Fallow and Red Deer while not being squished up against others.
Old Harry Rocks Walk on the Jurassic coast This is an epic clifftop walk with incredible limestone rocks standing proud at the eastern end of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. You can either do a quick walk from the pub to Old Harry Rocks and back (25 minutes each way) or complete a loop via Ballard Point (2 hours).
Fossil hunting at Lulworth Cove, Jurrassic Coast The 'Fossil Forest' can be seen when the tide goes out. Fossils of the Cretaceous period are found at Lulworth Cove, but they are less frequently found than in some other locations..however it's absolutely beautiful!
Treasures on the beach Take a reusable bag and go searching for interesting beach finds. Go on an egg case hunt and record shark egg cases you find online or look for shells, bones, seaweed or wash ups! Why not do a beach clean while you’re at it!
Photo : Blonde ray egg case
Storm Watching in Porthleven Weather is awful and you don’t want to go far? Porthleven is one of my favourite places to go and watch the storms crashing in – plus you can watch in safety here too, preferably with a cup of tea.
Bempton Cliffs - Seabirds seabirds seabirds This is a nature reserve run by RSPB. With boardwalks along the cliffs you will not want to miss out on visiting here as you welcome the half a million seabirds that are returning ahead of the breeding season.
Photo source : RSPB
Stay in the a bothy These days bothies are in top condition and actually can offer you a very comfortable nights sleep with stoves, sleeping platforms, even sofas, libraries and insulated wood panelling. If you are looking for something to ease your way in I would recommend the popular Look Out Bothy in Isle of Skye. Beautiful views!
Pictures of the Look Out Bothy - Isle of Skye. Source unknown
Fancy a bigger adventure? Try the Ben Alder Cottage Bothy in the Grampian Mountains Ben Alder is of the most remote peaks in the UK, and Ben Alder Cottage bothy sits in the mountain’s shadow on the shores of Loch Ericht. Expect a long hike to get there – from the Bridge of Ericht to the south it’s a 8.5-mile walk with 30m of ascent.
Ps. If you have any symptoms of Coronavirus please do not go and stay in a bothy.
Get eyes on the crested tit at Loch Garten - if you’re quick Crested Tits use the feeders placed near the visitor centre between October and March. You may also see Red Squirrels and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Easy access!
Go otter watching on the Isle of Mull Glen Elg/ Kylerrhea is a great area. The best way to spot them is walking or driving along the coast and if you spot them they’re very easily disturbed so please do keep your distance and stay downwind
Bass rock Bring your binoculars and watch Bass Rock from the coast or visit the island! It’s a full sensory experience with the world’s largest colony of North Gannets. Also visit the North Berwick Seabird Centre there.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Do I need to say more?
Stargazing in Galloway Forest Park Very few people live in the 300 square miles of forest and hills in the park so nights really are black. Over 7,000 stars and planets are visible with the naked eye, and the bright band of the Milky Way is usually easy to see.
Road trip the Argyll Coastal Route 129 miles of winding roads and endless beautiful scenery
Walking by a carpet of bluebells I would recommend in Carron Glen, Stirlingshire where you can walk through a beautiful native oak and ash woodland. Now is the time to see those beautiful carpets of blue
SELF ISOLATION TIPS
Gardening Why not use this time to get stuck into the gardening?
Birdwatching from your window Every January RSPB run the Big Garden Birdwatch but there is no reason why you can't do it now too! All you need is a cup of tea and a notepad.. then just jot down all the birds you see in your garden.
For the kids - build an insect hotel You can use any of the below to make a home for lots of different species in your garden. The Wildlife Trust recommend the following :
Dead wood. Dead wood is an increasingly rare habitat and is essential for the larvae of wood-boring beetles. It also supports many fungi, which help to break down the woody material. Crevices under the bark hold centipedes and woodlice.
Hollow stems. Hollow stems, such as old bamboo canes, or holes drilled into blocks of wood, make good nesting sites for solitary bees.
Stones and tiles. Amphibians need a frost-free place to spend the winter. Provide stones and tiles in the centre of your habitat to give amphibians the cool, damp conditions they need.
Straw and hay. These provide many opportunities for invertebrates to burrow in and find safe hibernation sites.
Dry Leaves. Dry leaves offer homes for a variety of invertebrates by mimicking the litter on the forest floor.
Loose bark. Beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodlice all lurk beneath decaying wood and bark.
Corrugated cardboard. Roll up a piece of corrugated cardboard and put it in a waterproof cylinder to create a home for lacewings.
Dry sticks. Dry sticks are perfect for ladybirds to hibernate in.
Nectar-producing plants. Plant some nectar-rich flowers in and around your bug hotel to provide food for butterflies and bees.
Make fat balls for birds All you need is vegetable or beef suet or lard, plus bird seed mix. Mix one part suet to two parts seed, transfer to a saucepan and gently heat, stirring until the fat melts. To make them into balls just scoop into your hands and mould!
MY TOP TIPS
Here are some general health tips
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
· Stay home when you’re sick.
· Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then bin the issue.
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
· If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60% to 95% alcohol.. if you can find it!
Train / Bus If you are planning on travelling on the train like I do or on a bus – download the app. There’s a Firstbus app or a Trainline app where you can buy all of your tickets on your phone to avoid handing over / passing any tickets. Trains have stopped letting you use your own reusable coffee cup so to avoid the risk of drinking out of a cup on a train (which you shouldn't do anyway!!) just make / bring your own coffee too. A little bit of prep but totally worth it. If you’re travelling on a bus, don’t put yourself at risk by cramming yourself onto a bus pushed up against other people. Plan ahead and always have a plan B!
Car Because most of these locations are in a place where there isn’t easy public transport I would understand why most drive – although still not highly recommended for the environment. It has been recommended by WHO to not unnecessarily travel so just bear this in mind - and why not drive to somewhere that is local and easy to get to?
I would always recommend packing up your own food for the day or for your days ahead anyway. It’s cheaper and there's nothing better than making breakfast and coffee with a view anyway! However if you want to eat out.. you can! Remember Coronavirus is not known to be transmitted through food, but hard surfaces – utensils, menus etc that can be contaminated by droplets. So, if you are eating out just make sure you wash your hands every time you touch something which could be risky and when you’re eating don’t touch or face until washed. This is a really tough time for small local businesses who will be seeing a huge drop in numbers eating in their restaurants. If they’re open why not get some food to go and eat with a view outdoors somewhere lovely.
Places to Stay
Camping / Campervan
Instead of hotels why not go camping? Whether you want to stay in a tent or perhaps you have a campervan – camping is a safe way to still go exploring and not be at risk or risk others! Just make sure you take and use your own bedding / tent / whatever needed and then you can be confident that you haven’t spread / caught any germs.
See above for my bothy tips but if you do go visit a bothy, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands when you arrive and again after you leave. Make sure to give any surfaces you’ve touched a wipe down to disinfect. Make sure you take your own sleeping bag with you (as they don’t have this anyway!) Upon leaving please disinfect any surface that is frequently touched by you!
So those are my wild adventure recommendations across the UK in this very strange time – lots to see while still avoiding Coronavirus. Be sure to let me know if you do go and visit any of these places by tagging me on Instagram @lizziedalywild or if you want any more top tips.
Stay safe everybody!