COLUMN: Discover the best of the UK’s nature

Now that the leaves have turned, the temperature has dropped and much-loved programmes such as Autumnwatch and Blue Planet II have returned to our screens - the nation’s love for wildlife has been rekindled and there has never been a better time to get out 
and explore nature at its very 
best.

With the shows giving us glimpses of everything from friendly barn-owls to badgers, dolphins and whales, cottages.com, the UK’s largest self-catering holiday company, has curated a handy guide to nature in the UK that will help budding trailblazers and conservationists alike seek out and find all of these animals in person, a little closer to home...

Whales – Orkney Islands, Scotland and south west coast, England

Inspired by the recent ‘oceans’ episode of Blue Planet II? Then head to the Orkney Islands in Scotland to spot them in the wild. Present year-round, 90 per cent of sightings of orcas in the UK happen off Orkney and the Shetland Islands – and pods of up to 150 can be seen at one time. If you’d rather head to Cornwall, minke whales mainly keep to waters on the west of England and are known to pass the south west Ccast.

Barn owls – West Sussex, England

One of Britain’s best-loved birds with its heart-shaped face and patterned feathers, one of the best places to catch a glimpse of barn owls up close is West Sussex. The RSPB’s Pulborough Brooks offers some of the best opportunities to see them, with prime viewing times at dusk and dawn.

Dolphins – Cardigan Bay, Wales

Seeing dolphins in person and in their natural habitat can be a magical experience – and the UK’s biggest pod of dolphins lives in Cardigan Bay, where they’re a daily delight for visitors. With sightings all year round, start your search at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre, but you can generally see dolphins anywhere between Aberystwyth and Fishguard whenever you visit.

Badgers – Lincolnshire

Last but not least, the ever-elusive badger is the UK’s largest land predator that emerge when night falls. Cubs are born in January or February, but spend the first two or three months underground, making their first appearances above ground in the spring. Lincolnshire is one of the best places in the UK to see them – if you are lucky enough to spot them of course.

For more information on where to see even more species in person, and to book your own getaway, visit www.cottages.com/inspire-and-explore/iloveyouk/nature-in-the-uk or call 0345 498 6900.