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7 Jan 2022

Best strolls for spotting wildlife in the UK

deer in Richmond Park

Walking is a pastime you can enjoy whatever the weather - provided you're prepared with sturdy waterproofs and walking boots.

Now festive season has come and gone, you may find there's a little more time to get back in touch with nature, making the most of the crisp January sunlight before evenings draw in.

To help encourage those who may be less enthusiastic to take a bracing stroll, we've rounded up walks that Which? readers rated highly in the wildlife category.

While we can't guarantee you'll spot animals (especially as sightings could vary by season), heading out on the below walks maximises your chances, according to our members.

Wildlife walks in England

Lizard Peninsula circuit, Cornwall

Overall walk rating: 83%
Walk length: 8 miles
Wildlife rating: 5/5

Lizard Point

This spectacular circular walk hugs the coast, allowing you to explore Britain's most southerly point: the Lizard Peninsula.

As you pass by rugged cliffs and beautiful beaches, keep an eye out for red-billed choughs. Once extinct in the county, these black birds are iconic to the area.

Additionally, keep your eyes peeled for Atlantic grey seals and even dolphins - although the latter are usually only spotted in spring and summer months.

St Ives to Zennor, Cornwall

Overall walk rating: 79%
Walk length: 12 miles
Wildlife rating: 4/5

Zennor to St Ives walk

This walk, which starts and finishes in one of the most famous towns in Cornwall - St Ives - isn't an easy one because of several steep sections as well as the length.

But, the hard work pays off - you'll be rewarded with breath-taking views of the Cornish coastline on the outwards leg of the route. Depending on the time of year, you might be able to catch glimpses of dolphins, basking sharks or minke whales out to sea.

Find out where St Ives ranked in our best seaside towns survey

Wells Beach & Pinewoods Walk, North Norfolk

Overall walk rating: 79%
Walk length: 4.5 miles
Wildlife rating: 4/5

seals on Wells Beach

This fairly flat walk, which begins and ends in Wells, will take you past sand dunes, a harbour and through tall pine trees in woodland.

En route, you might be lucky enough to spot seals. Grey seals nest in winter, while common seals opt for the warmer summer months. Keep watch for various bird species too, from Brent geese to Oystercatchers and Starlings.

Back in Wells, fish and chip shops await to appease hungry appetites. This walk was rated easy by Which? Readers. Find 15 other easy-rated walks.

Richmond Park: Tamsin Trail, London

Overall walk rating: 75%
Walk length: 7 miles
Wildlife rating: 4/5

deer in Richmond Park

You'll need to set several hours aside to complete the Tamsin Trail in the vast tree-lined expanse of Richmond Park. It's likely you'll see roaming red and fallow deer as you potter along - just watch out for rutting season where stags and bucks clash. Look to the skies for kestrels, the trees for woodpeckers and the ponds for waterfowl.

Along the loop, pause at King Henry's Mound near to Pembroke Lodge - you might be able to see the historic St Paul's Cathedral in central London on a clear day.

Prefer to take a spin around one of the UK's best-rated gardens? See our garden survey results to find one near you.

Wildlife walks in Wales

Solva to St Davids, Pembrokeshire

Overall walk rating: 87%
Walk length: 4.5 miles
Wildlife rating: 5/5

Gannet in Wales

If you can tear yourself away from the pretty village of Solva to begin your walk, this one-way route will provide you with dramatic cliff top views over St Brides Bay. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and grey seals in the water, and fulmar birds and the much larger (and more striking) Gannets patrolling the coast. At the end of the route, you'll need to catch a bus back, or turn on your heel and do the walk in reverse if you can manage it.

Rhossili Headland, Gower

Overall walk score: 87%
Walk length: 3.5 miles
Wildlife rating: 4/5

Rhossili headland

Not only will you get the chance to listen to and see the bright yellowhammer birds, chough and soaring peregrines on this route, you'll also be able to see the 'Helvetia' shipwreck on the beach at low tide. In winter, powerful waves pound the headland and provide a dramatic setting to your amble, while in summer, the sea will look more inviting.

Gower performed well in our 2021 AONB survey - read the results to find out more

Wildlife walks in Scotland

Anstruther to Crail, Fife

Overall walk score: 86%
Walk length: 4 miles
Wildlife rating: 4/5

Fife Coastal Path

This walk from one fishing village to another takes place on the well-marked Fife Coastal Path. It's a fairly easy-going trail which provides far-reaching views out over the Firth of Forth to the Isle of May. The views won't disappoint according to readers who awarded it four out of five stars for its scenery. Keep an eye out for eider ducks, shags and grey seals as you ramble along this well-trodden route.

Discover more about the full route in our best walks guide.

The Falls of Clyde, South Lanarkshire

Overall walk score: 80%
Walk length: 6.5 miles
Wildlife rating: 4/5

Falls of Clyde

There's something captivating about a walk that features a waterfall. This one leads you to a 27-metre torrent - Corra Linn, followed by a horseshoe of falls, Bonnington Linn.
The cascading water is not the only thing that will capture your attention on the way round though. Over 100 species of birds have been spotted here, so look out for everything from dippers to kingfishers. At ground level, keep alert for a chance to spy badgers, otters and deer.

Head to our walk survey results to see how well these wildlife walks scored in categories such as scenery, difficulty, peace and quiet and more. We've also rounded up easy-rated walking routes, if you'd prefer to take a relaxed saunter that isn't too strenuous this season.