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Nature Reserves near Dawlish

We are so lucky here to have the Devon Wildlife Trust take care of some incredible Nature Reserves close to us here in Dawlish.  Here are four of our favourites!

Dawlish Inner Warren

Within walking distance of our park and part of the beautiful  Dawlish Warren sand spit at the mouth of the River Exe, this reserve is a vital home and migratory stopping off place for thousands of wading birds and wildfowl.

Clearly marked paths from the car park lead you to the bird hide and the walk takes about an hour to complete. As one of the South West’s best birdwatching sites, its dedicated bird hides lets you get up close to the thousands of birds that come to the area.

Definitely one not to miss out on – especially is it is so close by!

Best time to visit – all year round
Access – Paths lead through the sand dunes and access to the bird hide is through a stretch of the beach
Dogs – not permitted
Location – EX7 0PQ

The Old Sludge Beds

Okay so the name Old Sludge Beds might not be that welcoming but there is heaps of charm to this Nature Reserve! A designated RAMSAR site, Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area this reserve is soaked in history and wildlife.

Once the destination of Exeter’s treated sewerage, the site was cleared by South West Water in 1969 is now a haven for everyone. Boardwalks and paths lead you round some remarkable wildlife alongside some great views of Exeter Canal. During the spring and summer months many migrating songbirds birds come to the reserve including the incredible Cetti Warblers filling the air with some magical sounds.

The reserve is also great for spotting dragonflies and on a warm evening you will be able to see bats flying around the reed beds and ponds.

Best time to visit – All year round
Access – Paths and boardwalks are level with some steps. There are no benches until you reach the reserve itself
Dogs – Welcome on a lead
Location – EX2 7EQ Exeter Boathouse car park

Bovey Heathfield

This heathland is one of the best remaining landscapes which once dominated this part of Devon. There are a number of paths where you can explore the heather and gorse and look for basking reptiles such as common lizards, adders and grass snakes. On a warm summer’s evenings you can hear the Nightjar whose unusual calls are truly magical.

The late summer months bring an incredible show of colour with strong pinks and purples mixing with the buttery yellow of the gorsebushes. This tranquil reserve provides a relaxing backdrop to the distant Dartmoor.

Best time to visit – all year round
Access – There are several routes around the reserves unfortunately unsuitable for wheelchair users.
Dogs – Welcome on a lead
Location – TQ12 6TU

Bellever Moor and Meadows

This reserves is a fantastic introduction to Dartmoor with its wildflower upland meadows, ancient drystone walls and amazing views of Dartmoor.

As one of Devon Wildlife Trusts newest reserves, after taking on a lease from the Forestry Commission in 2014,  the area now benefits from improved visitor access, new gates, waymarked routes, picnic area and benches along the way.

Stretching over 40 small fields around Naked Hill and Laughter Hole (honestly called that!), this is a fabulous place to explore.  Discovery walks lead you through drystone-walled fields full of flowery hay meadows, rush pastures, purple moor grass mire, heathy grassland and moorland.  There is also a small stream connecting to the East Dart river with views of the tors across the Dartmoor.

Records show that farmland has existed here since at least 1355 and an archaeological hut circle is still visible on Naked Hill showing a farming settlement from prehistoric times.

With recent additional recent Devon Wildlife Trust have some great plans to continue improving the reserve for visitors and is the perfect introduction to Dartmoor.

Best time to visit – March to October
Access – There are rough tracks and paths with no steep climbs but can be boggy in places
Dogs – Must be kept on leads around any grazing animals
Location – PL20 6TU