The sector sloping away to the west at first seems straightforwardly idyllic. There’s a pair of fairly shepherd’s huts with adjoining kitchens in a meadow the place dandelions and cuckoo flowers bloom. And there’s a wonderful view over pasture and woodland in direction of the blue hills of Bodmin Moor.However that is the British countryside accompanied by a big dollop of strangeness, significantly at nightfall.“Fast!” calls an unearthly being from the alders behind our hut. “Crhrup!” replies one other.I observe the sound by the bushes to an aviary. Inside is a black stork the scale of a kid and a posse of evening herons, unique cream-and-inky-midnight-blue nocturnal birds. Their “Fast! Crhrup!” calls echo by the silent valley. Neither species is a wild resident of Britain, though that will change if Derek Gow will get his manner.We’re staying at Coombeshead in north-west Devon, a 61-hectare (150-acre) farm being rewilded by Gow. Each landowner appears to be dabbling with eagles and beavers lately, however Gow is the rewilders’ rewilder. A blunt, visionary Scot generally known as Mr Beaver (his e-book Bringing Again the Beaver was printed final yr), Gow provides water voles, beavers and storks to restoration tasks across the nation.Iron-age pigs and piglet at CoombesheadNow, after years of enabling others’ rewilding, Gow is restoring “pure processes” to his once-conventional sheep farm. What does this imply? A part of the reply comes once I step from our hut to make use of the composting bathroom at evening and leap on the sound of a colossal groan from the blackness. A hulking presence with two curved horns looms towards the sky – a water buffalo.The next morning, because the mist slips from the distant moors, we have now breakfast on the picnic desk exterior and extra beasts seem, separated from the huts by an unobtrusive barbed-wire fence. The buffaloes’ curved noses give them a quizzical, clever look; there’s additionally a cluster of skittish darkish Exmoor ponies. Essentially the most approachable animals are the “iron-age pigs”, a wild boar/Tamworth cross whose spectacular rootles make the pasture seem like it has been ineptly ploughed.Shepherd’s huts with views of the Tamar and Bodmin MoorGow’s farm appears a unusual menagerie, however every animal has a objective and the operation is pushed by his real ardour for restoring Britain’s denuded pure panorama. These herbivores roam freely within the former sheep farm and its woodland as a result of Gow is searching for to copy the actions of extinct grazers – wild horses, cattle and boar, whose shopping and rooting (and dung) was traditionally an awesome driver of biodiversity. The useful results of (not too many) free-living herbivores has been proven at Knepp, the rewilded farm in West Sussex that has impressed British rewilding. The pigs break up the grassy sward so wildflowers can take root; buffalo wallows maintain water and are house to bugs and amphibians; and the absence of chemical compounds means dung beetles and different invertebrates flourish.A lounge space on the farm. {Photograph}: Jonny Weeks/The GuardianGow hopes tourism will fund his restoration. Company can keep in 5 new huts, all spaced for privateness throughout two fields, plus a spruced-up outdated Gypsy caravan. Every hut sleeps two, and a scorching bathe and composting bathroom are shared by three huts. There’s additionally a tenting discipline with 4 pitches. In an open-sided barn is a communal space with pizza ovens, a charging level for telephones and cameras, wood-fired barbecues, sofas and board video games. The tranquillity is ensured by a no-under-10s and no-dogs coverage.One of many 12 wildcats that can lead a captive-breeding effort to reintroduce these predators into England and Wales 200 years after they have been pushed to extinction. {Photograph}: Jonny Weeks/The GuardianWe discover the sensitivities of the animals round us encourage stillness. Every night, we stroll quietly to a raised platform overlooking six giant enclosures stuffed with trunks and stumps of outdated bushes. Inside, two eyes glare again at us from tall grass: a wildcat, one among six pairs that can lead a captive-breeding effort to reintroduce these tabby and tawny-patterned predators into England and Wales 200 years after they have been pushed to extinction. From the platform, we have now views of Gow’s “sky desk”, on which he locations roadkill deer carcasses within the hope of luring passing white-tailed eagles. (One visited earlier this spring, however not throughout our keep.)White storks are already a part of the rewilding course of however black storks are additionally being launched. {Photograph}: Jonny Weeks/The GuardianOn our second day, we take a two-and-a-half hour “animal encounter” tour, which is free for glampers and can be booked by day guests. We start by bumping by the fields in Gow’s outdated Land Rover to admire what he says proudly are Britain’s solely herd of Heck cattle. “No one else needs them. They’ve bought a horrible fame,” he beams. Really wild cattle have been hunted to extinction in Europe in medieval instances, however these aggressive variations, bred in Germany within the Twenties, are right here to carry out the identical position – roughing up woodland and grassland, creating alternatives for different species to maneuver in.We’re then taken to Gow’s captive-breeding centre, which is like peeking behind the scenes of a small zoo, besides every animal’s offspring shall be restored to the wild. Images excursions can be found for day trippers in addition to campers, and Gow additionally affords bespoke excursions for guests significantly curious about reintroducing species, corresponding to harvest mice or beavers.Farm employees cleansing out the water vole cages. {Photograph}: Jonny Weeks/The GuardianThe yard rings with a hole clattering – white storks gently clashing beaks in bonding behaviour. We take pleasure in closeups of harvest mice, beavers, cranes and, maybe most spectacular, Gow’s “vole room”. There have been as soon as thousands and thousands of Kenneth Grahame’s “Ratty” in Britain; at present, the wild inhabitants is 77,000 and falling quick. This summer season alone, Gow will launch 1,700 water voles to assist conservation efforts. One species that received’t be liberated are three gorgeous lynx, which he rescued from a personal assortment. Accustomed to controversy over reintroductions, he acknowledges it might be some years earlier than lynx are efficiently returned to Britain.Water voles and the whole lot from fish to dragonflies thrive in beaver-created wetlands, and this explains Gow’s obsession with this chunky, herbivorous rodent.Beavers stay freely on Coombeshead FarmClose encounters are fantastic, nevertheless it’s a deeper pleasure to find beavers within the wild. On our last night, Gow leads us into the guts of his valley, the place beavers stay freely. We admire the dimensions of their stick-and-mud dams which, extremely, rise two metres in locations. We wait quietly beside a pond. Whereas beavers slumber in capacious stick “lodges”, we take pleasure in a type of nightfall bathing, watching long-tailed tits flit by the woods as a willow warbler makes its somnolent descending name.No beavers present themselves however awaiting them is a magical expertise on a singular farm that can solely get wilder and extra bewitching because the years roll by. Shepherd’s huts at Coombeshead Rewilding from £100 an evening (two-night minimal) together with wildlife tour. Beaver watching is £25pp; pictures/wildlife walks/rewilding workshops accessible for day guests in addition to glampers; one-day wildlife pictures course £140pp for teams of three, £55pp for teams of 8-12. Tenting from £22pp a nightFive extra rewilding tasks to visitCambrian Wildwood, close to AberystwythIn the uplands of mid-Wales, near the River Dyfi and the ocean, the Cambrian Wildwood challenge goals to revive habitats and species (together with pine marten, purple squirrel and, finally, wild boar and beaver) and provides individuals the chance to expertise nature. Focusing initially on 300 hectares (750 acres) of degraded valley and moorland, it plans to increase the wildwood to three,000 hectares, by shopping for land and dealing with neighbouring landowners. It’s at the beginning a group useful resource, and programmes bringing youngsters and younger adults to the wild are core to the challenge; however there are mountaineering trails and wild tenting zones for all to take pleasure in.Timber for Life, HighlandsThe charity Timber for Life runs a 4,000-hectare rewilding property at Dundreggan, west of Loch Ness. The mission is to revive the panorama to what it as soon as may need been, which includes large-scale tree-planting after years of destruction, and the reintroduction of wildlife, together with wild boar and pine marten. Guests can be part of paid-for conservation weeks (be warned – they e-book up far prematurely), and a customer centre and lodging are set to open right here in 2022.Somerleyton, SuffolkMore than 400 hectares of farmland on the Somerleyton property, on the Norfolk-Suffolk border, is being largely left to rewild itself, with cattle, wild ponies and deer roaming free and enjoying a job within the pure regeneration of the land. There are plans to reintroduce bison, too. Whereas the property might be visited for the day, staying onsite at Fritton Lake in luxurious cabins, cottages or rooms affords a extra immersive expertise. There’s a lake for boating and wild swimming, and actions embrace foraging and property excursions. Proprietor Hugh Somerleyton is without doubt one of the founders of Wild East, an initiative to encourage individuals in East Anglia to return 20% of their land to the wild (whether or not that’s a small backyard or an enormous farm).Wild Ken Hill, NorfolkHosting the Springwatch staff this yr, Wild Ken Hill is an thrilling initiative to rewild 400 hectares and handle an 800-hectare regenerative agriculture challenge and a 200-hectare freshwater marsh. It has simply launched 14 guided excursions, from a family-friendly tour (assume digging for earthworms and “micro” beasts) to dawn-chorus safaris and extra in-depth rewilding excursions. A campsite is deliberate for subsequent yr.Knepp, West SussexPurple emperor butterfly at Knepp. {Photograph}: David Woodfall/AlamyOne of the longest-established and best-known rewilding websites within the UK, Knepp is known for its work in serving to increase populations of turtle doves, nightingales, purple emperor butterflies and tree-nesting peregrines, and for a pioneering white-stork breeding programme. The 1,400-hectare farm, near Horsham, is open to day guests, and likewise affords tenting and glamping. There are common “safaris” and workshops specializing in topics from historic bushes to the ecology of rewilding.For extra data on rewilding tasks within the UK see the Rewilding Community (rewildingbritain.org.uk)Jane Dunford