When planning a holiday in South Devon, most people think about our glorious beaches. But did you realise our region also has some wonderful rivers? And there’s lots of fun to be had messing around on Devon rivers…
Two of the best river adventures can be found on the River Exe and the River Dart, both conveniently close to our holiday park in Dawlish Warren.
Devon’s main river, the River Exe, rises on Exmoor, in a little place called Simonsbath. From there, it flows south via Tiverton and Exeter, stretching into the estuary at Topsham, before finally meeting the sea between Dawlish Warren and Exmouth.
The Exe is a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers, especially in winter when it’s filled with migrating birds. In summer however, it’s the perfect place for your own wild adventures…
Canoe Trips with Exe Adventures
Exe Adventures, South Devon’s original mobile outdoor adventure centre, runs a variety of fun-packed tours on the beautiful Exe. The most popular tour, and a particular favourite of ours, is their social paddle.
This delightful three-hour trip includes a gentle mile-long paddle to The Turf Locks, a riverside pub. Here you can munch on delicious food or practise your kayaking skills in the safe, calm harbour, before paddling back. Sam and his team whisk you between your accommodation and the launch site in their minibus, and the day is suitable for everybody from age 3 upwards thanks to their selection of canoes and kayaks, ranging from individual and double kayaks to larger family canoes.
Other options include a half-day fun session, where you master the basics of canoeing, play games on the water, and learn about the local area and wildlife. Alternatively, you can rent a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard, and get it delivered to Dawlish Warren Beach and do a spot of exploring on your own.
From its humble beginnings on Dartmoor to the gushing waters that flow into the sea at Dartmouth, the River Dart is one of the most magnificent of Devon’s rivers. Furthermore, it’s bursting with wildlife and surrounded by stunning scenery.
Whatever your interests, the Dart has much to offer. If you’re feeling active there’s lots to do. Take a walk on the riverbank, climb neighbouring rocky outcrops, ride a horse or bike along the water’s edge, or go canoeing upstream. It’s also the perfect place to relax, whether to read, write, or paint next to the gentle hush of the river. Maybe fishing’s your thing – if so you could attempt to catch the trout and salmon that frequent these waters.
Riverboat Trips with Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company
Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company runs a variety of steam-powered tours and pleasure boats that cruise gently up and down the tidal river. Their best-selling and award-winning tour is Round Robin, which allows you to explore the towns of Totnes, Paignton and Dartmouth travelling on a combination of steam train ride, open-top bus, and river cruise on the UK’s only coal-fired paddle steamer. There’s time to explore each of the towns, as well as to sit back and enjoy the wonderful Devon views.
There are a number of other cruises including wildlife trips, where you can see some of the exciting wildlife that call the Dart home. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for buzzards, ospreys, egrets and seabirds such as gannets, guillemots, and cormorants. If you’re really lucky, you could even see an otter or dolphin!
As summer hits the UK, the words of a famous old song springs to mind, ‘When the weather is fine then you know it’s a sign, for messing about on the river…’ We couldn’t agree more!