April 14, 2022 03:46 PM

Welcoming Spring at Catch the Breeze Retreats

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As we settle into the Spring season, the weather is getting warmer, the evenings are getting blissfully longer, and the wildlife on our properties and in the surrounding area are rearing their heads as the sun is here to stay.

Spring is a time for new beginnings and to bask in the beauty of nature and the wildlife within it, and when you stay with us at one of our Catch the Breeze Retreats properties, you are sure to get your fill of different wild animals, native plants, and sublime landscapes. We have a number of properties in our portfolio that span across the UK, from the Northumberland coast and the Yorkshire Dales to Snowdonia, so our esteemed guests are sure to spot a wide range of wildlife during their stay, especially in the Spring time.

Oughtershaw Hall – Yorkshire Dales

The picturesque setting of Oughtershaw Hall in the Yorkshire Dales is home to many wild animals, some of which are a rare sighting not just in the Yorkshire Dales, but across the entirety of the UK. Oughtershaw is called home by a red squirrel – these furry creatures are considered nearly endangered by the Woodland Trust, as after the non-native grey squirrel was introduced to the UK back in the mid 1800s their numbers have slowly decreased to 140,000 Having the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures out in the wild or from the comfort of your garden is becoming a rare event – but the Catch the Breeze Retreats team are hoping that will soon change. We are currently working with Paul, our local Red Squirrel Ranger, to ensure that more red squirrels move up the valley from Hawes. There have recently been sightings at farms nearby in the village, and we are hoping that soon the population visiting the property will also increase – something we are sure our guests will surely appreciate when staying with us at Oughtershaw Hall.

The red squirrel, partly by nature and partly due to their decline in numbers, is an elusive animal, and while they are sometimes seen around Oughtershaw Hall, they are more likely to be spotted around Snaizeholme which has a Red Squirrel Trail in Widdale, Wensleydale. 

The story behind Snaizeholme is a miraculous one; in the 1960s red squirrels were almost extinct in the Yorkshire Dales, but a small colony grew at Snaizholme when the nearby farm decided to plant Christmas trees on what was then a treeless, windswept hill. As the conifers grew, they were attracted by the abundant food supply and squirrel friendly habitat. Snaizeholme is now one of 17 red squirrel refuges in Northern England where woodlands are managed and red squirrels are carefully looked after and are encouraged to thrive. 

The Snaizeholme red squirrel trail is less than a half hour drive away from our Yorkshire Dales property and allows visitors access to the Red Squirrel Reservation. Although the sighting of the red squirrels is never guaranteed, the reserve aims to preserve this nearly endangered species of squirrel, and you could even come across wild dear and woodland birds on your journey.

Red squirrels are not the only creatures you will find around Oughtershaw Hall. A signal of Spring is the sightings of tranquil barn owls, adventurous hares, curious curlews, and beautiful lapwings. And the Oughtershaw Beck that meanders around the property is surrounded by its own ecosystem of animals and insects that thrive off the natural resources the property provides.

Any budding photographers will enjoy the Paul Fowlie Photography experience in North Yorkshire. Paul specialises in landscape photography, including photos of animals in their natural habitat; Paul can take guests on red squirrel and badger workshops where you can learn how to expertly capture picturesque and stunning moments in nature.

Rock Lobster, Middlerigg & Craster Reach – Northumberland

As we move from the countryside to the coast, a whole new type of biodiversity can be discovered and explored when guests visit one of our Northumberland properties: Rock LobsterMiddlerigg, and Craster Reach. Viewing the sea life is the highlight of our guests’ stay at our Northumberland properties, with each property being less than a two minute walk away from the harbour a wide variety of aquatic and coastal animals can be seen.

With Dolphin Awareness Month having just passed us by in March, it is more than fitting to highlight that dolphins are often spotted in the Craster area where Rock Lobster, Middlerigg, and Craster Reach are located. Dolphins have been known to have been spotted from the top windows of Rock Lobster as they often feed daily just off the village. This is a magical experience for the whole party to witness as you watch the dolphins gracefully jump and play along the coastline taking in the Spring sunshine.

As guests explore beyond Craster and along the Northumberland coast other sea creatures can be seen along the journey. Rockpools and crevices at the beach are often just as full of sea life as the ocean itself – from playful starfish to crafty crabs and shy limpets, the beach is full of fun and hidden animals.  Spring time is also the time the migrant seabirds come and re-join us in Northumberland, from elder ducks, kittiwakes, guillemots, terns, razorbills, and puffins. All these fantastic seabirds make a return for breeding season in the spring, creating a paradise for avid twitchers.

But the coast can offer guests a lot more to see than just sea life; the Northumberland coast nurtures some beautiful flora in the spring season that all those with a green thumb will appreciate. At The Alnwick Gardens the magnificent Japanese cherry blossom trees begin to bloom from mid April onwards and their blushed pink petals are a sight to behold. Along the coastline daffodils can be seen, especially around Alnwick CastleWarkworth Castle, and in Howick Hall & Arboretum. The flowers blooming is a great signifier that spring has begun, and guests will never be far from the sublime beauty of Northumberland’s flowers.

If guests are willing to travel away from the mainland and out to sea, even more aquatic animals can be found. We would recommend arranging a wildlife tour with Billy Shiel’s Boat Trips or Golden Gate Boat Trips where you can take in the sights of the lazy seals spotted around Coquet Island, or perhaps you might be lucky enough to spot a pod of whales. And the highlight of your boat excursion will surely be seeing the freshly hatched puffins – the pufflings hatch in the spring time and can always be seen on The Farne and Coquet Islands.

As you can see, there are many adventures to be had at our Northumberland properties this Spring, whether that is from the comfort of the property or out at sea.

Tan Llan & Coach House – Snowdonia

Finally, we take another look inland at our breath-taking Tan Llan & Coach House property in Snowdonia, and there are some native Snowdonia animals that you might just spot this Spring as you take a gentle stroll around the sprawling green of the property.

Tan Llan & Coach House is encompassed by the beautiful and picturesque Welsh landscape, several tall evergreens surround the property and along with several other types of trees, bushes, and a range of flowerbeds. And as you and your party walk around the property’s gardens and lawns, you are sure to feel the presence of Snowdon’s twin, Cader Idris, which looms in the distance. The naturalistic landscape of Snowdonia and the surrounding mountains, streams, and valleys are home to lots of wildlife, including the peregrine falcon, a majestic bird of prey that can create a postcard perfect view when flying past Cader Idris. And not forgetting the smaller creatures around the property, such as the native large heath moth which is most well-known for the eye spots on its wings that feel like they are watching you from a neighbouring tree or flowerbed.

Moving on to flowers, a flower that is surely found on Cader Idris is the amply named Snowdon Lily, a delicate flower that has grass-like leaves with white petals. As you come to the end of your stroll across the green of Tan Llan & Coach House, taking in the sights and the nature around the property and the neighbouring landscapes, you will find a quaint picnic area on the banks of the Afon Mawddach river which flows past the property.  A wide variety of aquatic animals can be found in Snowdonia rivers; however, a native animal is the glutinous snail, which is known for its translucent appearance, making it great fun to try and find them in the flowing river.

Beyond Tan Llan & Coach House there are some magical wildlife tours and hikes you and the party can undertake and explore the beauty that Snowdonia has to offer. During the Spring season, the RSPB Ynys-hir reserve sees the departure of the winter animals such as ducks and geese, and the emergence of lapwings and redshanks as well as some beautiful butterflies are seen in their sted.

Many other animals can be seen on anyone one of the hiking trails through Snowdonia, such as mountain goats, wild dear, sheep, and a plethora of birds. Our suggestions of the best hikes in Snowdonia National Park can be found in our previous blog.

Spring is a beautiful season to visit us at one of our Catch the Breeze Retreats properties, with many of the flowers coming into bloom, hibernating animals resurfacing for the first time since winter, and the lush landscapes that surround our properties breathe a breath of fresh air into all our guests’ holiday.

For further information on our properties and their availability all year round, not just for winter, contact us on 01829 830 388 or email at info@catchthebreeze.co.uk.

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