Get out in Nature this February half term

From: Natural England
Published: Wed Feb 15 2023

From the heights of Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales to the coastlines of Northumbria, Natural England offers some very special places that anyone can explore completely free of charge

Natural England is calling on families in Yorkshire and the North East to get outside and reconnect with nature this half-term.

February is a great opportunity to explore the outdoors and the natural landscape of Yorkshire and the North East is bursting with brilliant ideas for family days out

From the heights of Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales to the coastlines of Northumbria, Natural England offers some very special places that will keep even the most reluctant of adventures entertained and exercised, completely free of charge. With tranquil Nature Reserves and dramatic coastlines, there is sure to be something that appeals.

Here's a few of our favourites:

The England Coast Path from Amble to Bamburgh

Stretch your legs along the stunning England Coast Path National Trail from Amble to Bamburgh. The easy-to-follow walking route hugs the Northumberland Coast taking in towns and villages including Warkworth, Alnmouth, Boulmer, Craster, Embleton bay, Low Newton-by-the-Sea, Beadnell and Seahouses before reaching Bamburgh and its mighty castle.

The Northumberland coast is a recognised Heritage Coast and most of it is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty characterised by coastal cliffs and rocky headlands, sandy bays and intertidal habitats, which support a variety of flora and fauna. Thirteen miles of this coast are managed by the National Trust, maintaining habitat in the wildflower rich dunes

Forge Valley Woods

Why not lace up your boots and head out for a walk in Forge Valley Woods. Located on the slopes of the Derwent river valley, these woods are one of the best examples of mixed deciduous woodland in north-east England. Alder, willow, ash, elm, sycamore, oak and holly are just a few of the species of trees in the woods, which also supports a rich population of breeding birds such as nuthatch, garden and wood warblers, redstarts and black-caps. The river that runs through the woodland is home to otter, trout and crayfish.


Ingleborough is one of the famous Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Together with Pen-y-ghent and Whernside, this mountainous area is renowned and protected for its special wildlife, flora, geology and spectacular scenery. It is part of the larger Ingleborough Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Although Ingleborough National Nature Reserve (NNR) may be most associated with its diverse plant life, the range of habitats within the reserve provide a home to many species of birds, butterflies, moths, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.


Maybe try the Spurn National Nature Reserve? A sand peninsula stretching 5.5 kilometres into the mouth of the Humber Estuary. Rich in wildlife - particularly birds - it's a mix of beach and dunes, grassland, salt marsh and scrub and aquatic environments.


There's bound to be something for you at Teesmouth National Nature Reserve. Set against a backdrop of heavy industry, it shows how nature can adapt and thrive in the most unlikely situations.

Harbour seals and grey seals bask beside the tidal channels. There are four different species of marsh orchid, and thousands of migratory waterbirds swooping down to feed on the mudflats.

The reserve is split into 2 main sections.

North Gare is an area of dunes and grazing marsh, the domain of lapwings and flocks of curlew. During winter this is the domain of lapwings and flocks of curlew, which stalk the pastures alongside the approach road, while short-eared owls hunt amongst the dune grasslands.

Seal Sands is one of the largest areas of intertidal mudflats on England's north-east coast. When the tide is out, hundreds of waders, including redshank and dunlin peck through the mud.

The colony of harbour seals haul out on the sand banks at low tide; their pups are born here each summer, making Seal Sands the only regular breeding colony of these animals on England's north-east coast.

Greenlee Lough

Greenlee Lough is one of the Roman Wall loughs, or shallow lakes, found near Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland. It is the largest natural freshwater lake in Northumberland supporting aquatic plant species that require low levels of nutrients, which can be accessed by a boardwalk over surrounding habitats such as mires, reedbeds and wet woodland.


On the edge of Britain, land and water meet. Tidal mudflats, saltmarshes and dunes combine to create a place which is home to fascinating plants and to a food supply that attracts bird visitors from thousands of miles away.

The reserve protects a long stretch of coast, including the dunes of Holy Island. Natural England works to ensure that the birds and plants of the area continue to survive in harmony with each other and the people who live and visit here.

At Lindisfarne, experience a sense of wilderness and tranquillity with its wide expansive sandy beaches, big skies and the ever present, ever changing North Sea. Along with the fabulous dune flowers and huge influx of visiting birds every autumn and winter, there's always something to see. Get the island experience as the reserve also encompasses parts of Holy Island, which can only be reached at low tide across the causeway.

To see what is happening on Lindisfarne NNR, follow our Lindisfarne blog or see the site visitor leaflet for more details.

Neil Pike, Manager at Natural England, said:

The North of England has some of the most spectacular coastlines and natural landscapes in the world and we want everyone to enjoy them.

Connecting children with nature is one of the most important things we can do for them. It can boost their health, wellbeing and learning and give them a life-long love of the natural world. So, whether you want to go bug-hunting, birdwatching, coastal path exploring, or wildlife-watching, there is a wealth of opportunities to experience nature right on your doorstep, without spending a fortune this half term.

Horse riding and cycling has been permitted on certain National Nature Reserves by relaxing the public access rules. See the maps to find out where you can ride a horse or cycle.

When you visit the coast and countryside, please help to keep them safe and enjoyable by following the Countryside Code

Company: Natural England

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