Places to see wonderful winter wildlife on the National Cycle Network

Photo of a robin on a bicycle handle bar ©2014, Sustrans, all rights reserved

Many birds have flown south for the winter

Photo of child in a pink jacket on a traffic-free path ©2011, Sustrans, all rights reserved

Kids will love spotting the different plants and animals in our wildlife guide

Now it's winter the cold weather has arrived, lots of animals are sleeping underground and many birds have flown south for the winter.

However, there is still a lot of wonderful wildlife to see at this time of year. So wrap up warm and get out onto the National Cycle Network for a wintery wildlife trail. It's a great way to keep kids active and healthy all year round.

Download the winter wildlife guide

Mistletoe

Mistletoe flourishes in the Midlands and the Welsh borders, although it can grow in parks and gardens in other parts of the country too.

The Lias Line between Leamington Spa and Rugby is often a good place to spot this pretty plant. 

Holly

Holly is commonly found in woodland, scrub and hedgerows, especially in oak and beech woodland. The National Trust property of Knighthayes has acres of parkland and woodland, so it's a great place to find this prickly plant.

The Tiverton to Bampton route takes you very close to the property.

Owls

The York to Beningbrough route takes you to the fantastic Beningbrough Hall which has 370 acres of beautiful and fascinating parkland with walking trails that are great to spot wildlife, especially barn owls, tawny owls and little owls.

Snowdrops

Attingham Park is an 18th-century mansion managed by the National Trust in Shropshire which is just off National Cycle Network Route 45 near Shrewsbury. During winter there are swathes of snowdrops that carpet the woodland floor.

Mushrooms

The Elan Valley Trail in Rhayader is a traffic free path that takes you through the Elan Valley which is important for its variety of plants including mosses, liverworts, lichens, ferns and fungi.

Its semi-natural ancient woodlands are some of the finest in Britain and are SSSIs (sites of special scientific interest).

Starling murmurations

Throughout the winter months, hundreds of thousands of starlings come together in huge clouds, swooping in unison. You can see this jaw-dropping wildlife spectacle, known as a 'murmuration', at many RSPB sites.

RSPB Leighton Moss in Lancashire is just off National Cycle Network Route 6 at Yealand Stores.

Bewick's swans

Bewick's swans arrive in the UK in mid-October after breeding in Siberia. They spend the winter here before leaving in March and are mainly found in eastern England, around the Severn estuary and in Lancashire.

Slimbridge Wetlands Centre is a great place to see them and is just off National Cycle Network Route 41 in Gloucestershire.

Robins

Across the UK in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens you’ll see red-breasted robins. Try the 10-mile Nutbrook Trail which takes you through the beautiful 700 acre Shipley Country Park in Derbyshire.

Check out our best routes on the National Cycle Network for nature lovers

Do you want to help improve nature on the Network? Become a Wildlife Champion today