We spend our lives in search of awe and amazement, crossing sun-scorched lands and deep blue seas on a quest to find the remarkable. But in the process - fun though it is - we often forget the beauty of what lies on our own doorstep. The UK is blessed with an abundance of jaw-dropping landscapes and diverse ecosystems, meaning that we needn't travel far before stumbling upon spectacular natural habitats. There's as much activity in the woodlands and waters of the UK as anywhere else in the world. That's why we always stash a pair of Swarovski Optik binoculars in our bag before heading out to the hills; when those unexpected moments arise, we're prepared and ready to pounce.
Ready to get closer to nature? Here are three destinations worth visiting to spot some of the UK's most incredible wildlife.
Three of the best UK destinations for nature lovers
NL Pure 32 Optiks, left, and a Glencoe deer | Photo credit: Felis Creations
The wild beauty of Glencoe lives in our minds rent-free. Sure, you've probably seen the lush peaks and verdant glacial valleys of this Highlands landscape on cinema screens, but nothing prepares you for the first time you see it in real life, especially from the perspective provided by a pair of Swarovski Optik lenses. Pick up the ATC spotter or NL Pure 32 binoculars (both are waterproof, which, let's be honest, you're going to need in Scotland) and vivid textures jump out at you like a fantasy novel come to life. Before long, you're fully immersed in the scenery, the surrounding world has dissolved and you're under the spell of nature.
Keep your eyes on the rolling curves of the hills to spot the silhouette of Britain's largest land mammal, the red deer. Viewed through binoculars, the graceful movements of this iconic creature become apparent: its eyes tracing the heather-carpeted path ahead; its ears twitching with the faintest whisper of sound. The trick to catching sight of these elegant animals is to slow down, be still and focus. Make yourself comfortable in an undisturbed place and wait patiently, Swarovski binoculars in hand. The best time to spot them? Early morning or dusk, when the light is soft and golden.
CL Companion in action, left, and a puffin | Photo credit: Andre Schönherr
Heading south, the craggy coastlines of north Wales are calling. Make tracks for South Stack on Anglesey, where cliffs strewn with spring squill and kidney vetch plunge seawards. The plants bloom in the warmer months, exhibiting flowers of vibrant yellow and lilac. View them with the assistance of the lightweight Swarovski Optik CL Companion and you'll witness a buzzing microcosm in action. Petals become landing pads for curious insects and puffs of pollen disappear lazily into the balmy air.
These cliffs are a temporary home for all manner of seabirds, who abandon life at sea for terra firma while breeding. Guillemots and razorbills nest here under boulders or in cracks and cavities in the rock, as do puffins, which are easily identifiable by their bright white chest feathers, stick-thin orange legs, and the flash of red across the tip of their beaks. In early May, puffins lay a single egg, so the best time to get a good glimpse of them is during the months of June and July, when both parents share incubating duties of the soon-to-hatch chick. Make the most of the longer days and stay till sunset, when these distinctive birds soar through the sherbet-hued sky at speeds of up to 88kmph.
Common dolphin, left, and the CL Curio in use | Photo credit: Andre Schönherr
The rugged, unspoilt beaches of Cornwall are guaranteed to capture imaginations, especially when admired through a pair of high-precision binoculars. Zip straight to Lizard, the county's most southerly point, to gaze out on the great blue yonder using your Swarovski Optik CL Pocket or CL Curio binoculars. The picturesque peninsula is characterised by wind-battered fishermen's cottages, small coves and striking rock formations and - beyond the shores - a circus of sealife.
Lively pods of bottlenose or common dolphins frolic, drawn to this stretch of coastline by the warm currents of the Gulf Stream and the summer advantage of plentiful fish stocks. Their favourite meal? Sea bass and trout. Don't look away (the binoculars' smooth, ergonomic design helps with that); after dinner, it's time for play, when these beautiful creatures leap out of the water, flashing their white bellies, dove-grey skin and fins. On a good day, you'll also catch sight of seals, whales, porpoises and turtles through your lenses. In these serene moments, the feeling of connection to these enchanting sea creatures has never been so visceral, rooting you both to this place and to nature in a way that has never felt deeper or more distinct.
Swarovski Optik is a family-run business that puts nature first. Founded in Tyrol, Austria, in 1949, it specialises in the development and manufacture of world-class, high-precision, long-range optical devices that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Ready to lace up your boots and get out on the hills? Adventure awaits. Visit Swarovski Optik to find out more.