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Overview
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  • Join the RSPB’s Peter Exley on this summer departure of one of our most popular wildlife tours, looking out for breeding herons, raptors, invertebrates and plantlife

  • Visit key historical sites including Glastonbury Abbey and Muchelney Abbey, founded by King Athelstan in 939

  • View the beautiful orchid meadows at RSPB West Sedgemoor, and journey through woodland glades in search of the rare Large Blue Butterfly on the Collard Hill trail

“A fascinating short break looking at the natural world with an expert lecturer who was accessible to all levels of knowledge, in a most attractive setting”

- ACE customer on the 2023 tour to Somerset led by Peter Exley

The Somerset Levels have had a colourful history: ‘the land of the summer people’ was once home to a Bronze Age population and it was here, in the house of a swineherd, that King Alfred is said to have sought refuge from Danish invaders. On this new summer departure of our popular nature tour, we will explore some of the oldest and most captivating nature reserves in the country, listening out for warblers while discovering an array of wildlife from breeding herons to raptors, insects and the rich plantlife this season has to offer. We will also visit some of the region’s most evocative historical sites.

 

Over 3000 hectares of wetland habitats have been created from the former industrial landscape of the Avalon Marshes, today one of Britain’s best nature reserves and home to some of our rarest wildlife. As we explore the reedbeds and marshes hoping to spot bitterns and marsh harriers, we shall listen to the songs of thousands of warblers and frogs, and look out for aerial masters from dragonflies to hobbies.

 

Greylake, once a series of carrot fields, has been transformed into a wetland reserve teeming with wildlife including breeding snipe, curlew and lapwing. At the National Trust trail at Collard Hill, meanwhile, we will wander through woodland glades before rising to climb the grassy hill in search of the rare and stunning Large Blue Butterfly – along with other butterflies and wildflowers – now flourishing at the site after disappearing in the late 1970s.

 

As well as observing the region’s wildlife, our tour will investigate key historical sites such as Glastonbury Abbey, England’s oldest abbey, and Glastonbury Tor, long associated with King Arthur, topped with the tower of a ruined medieval church. New for our summer tour, we will also stop at the atmospheric Muchelney Abbey, founded by King Athelstan in 939, and the adjacent 15th century church with its rare Jacobean colour painted roof.

 

Our base will be the charming four-star Swan Hotel in Wells, a 14th century coaching inn which enjoys comfortable, classically decorated rooms. It is ideally located in the heart of the city, a short distance from the beautiful cathedral.

 

This tour will be led by Peter Exley, BSc, an ecologist and ornithologist who has held posts with BirdLife International and the Albatross Task Force in South Africa. Now working for the RSPB, Peter has led and managed many ACE tours in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Algarve, New England, Madeira, the Faroes and Shetland.

 

Peter is delighted to be returning to Somerset for this long-standing ACE tour: "The Somerset Levels are one of our greatest historic and cultural landscapes, yet largely ignored by visitors. But they are rapidly and rightly becoming known as one of our country's best wildlife destinations. And for me, it is the conflicted fusion of nature and people through history that makes this place truly unique and special, that draws me back again and again."

Days
4
Cost
£1375
Tour Code
SOL2-25


Included: accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, three breakfasts, one lunch, three dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.


Not Included: travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £125.

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