Published: 26th JUNE 2019

Where to spot summer wildlife on the National Cycle Network

During summer many National Cycle Network routes are the perfect places to see plants bursting with life and to hunt for insects and animals. Use our handy spotter guide to help you find wildlife you can’t see at any other time of year. We've chosen these routes to explore this summer as inspiration, but you can also search our online mapping for other routes near you.

Woman in green t shirt and boy in grey t shirt inspecting something small that the boy is holding

Many Network routes include great habitats for a variety of wildlife.

1. Brunel Trail, Pembroke 

The trail follows the picturesque Cleddau estuary through Westfield Pill Nature Reserve and is one of Sustrans’ Greener Greenways. Over 150 bird species have been recorded here and the reserve attracts osprey, little egrets and little grebe, kingfishers, shelduck, mute swan, mallard and heron.

2. Marriott’s Way, Norwich 

The whole of Marriott’s Way has been designated as a County Wildlife Site, recognising its importance as a valuable habitat. Marriott’s Way is an impressive haven for wildlife, creating a “green corridor” linking natural habitats.

3. Camel Trail, Cornwall 

The River Camel has been designated a Special Area of Conservation for the otter and the bullhead freshwater fish. The estuary is also home to large flocks of wading birds, peregrine falcons and mute swans and was the first place in England to be colonised by little egrets.

Brown rodent in green grass

A vole spotted along one of the Network's routes

4. New Forest Ride, Brockenhurst 

This great route takes you through the New Forest where you’re likely to spot wild ponies and grazing cattle. The route has some rough sections so be mindful of this when selecting your mode of transport.

5. Leicester to Watermead Park

Travel from urban Leicester to a beautiful green space using this relaxing route. At Watermead Park you’re likely to see dragonflies, grasshoppers and wading birds. You can also spot otters and water voles.

6. Ely to Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire

Wicken Fen is one of the last remaining fragments of undrained fenland and Britain’s oldest nature reserve. It’s also a Special Area of Conservation (a European designation) and a Ramsar site (international wetland designation). It’s home to thousands of migrating summer birds and there are nine hides which let you spy the wildlife!

Black butterfly with red spots on purple flower

A Burnet moth spotted along a section of route in Scotland.

7. Stratford Greenway, Stratford-upon-Avon

This path has become a refuge for wild plants and animals as intensive farming practices drive them out of the surrounding fields. You’ll also see fruit and walnut trees and are likely to spot cowslips, knapweed, wild carrot and tansy.

8. Spen Valley Greenway, West Yorkshire

Running close to the River Spen, this green corridor between Dewsbury and Oakenshaw passes a nature reserve and is a great place for spotting interesting insects such as grizzled skipper butterflies, dragonflies and glow worms.

9. Caldercruix to Blackridge, North Lanarkshire/West Lothian

This scenic section of the Airdrie to Bathgate Railway Path boasts pretty wildflower meadows along the route, and there’s the opportunity to spy out dragonflies and more at the nearby Blawhorn Moss National Nature Reserve.

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