Exe Estuary

Exeter, Devon, EX3 0BG

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Tel01395 222299

Exe Estuary - Andy Hay

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The Exe Estuary is of international importance for wintering waders and wildfowl, supporting 1000s of birds. One of the best opportunities to view the wildlife of the estuary is at the the RSPB's two nature reserves:

Exminster Marshes (SX 957874): an area of wet grassland drained by dykes and ditches, the Marshes are an important breeding ground for lapwings and redshanks.

Ducks, including shovelers and teals, also breed here. In winter, the marshes provide roosting and feeding areas for waders such as curlews and black-tailed godwits, and brent geese graze the drier areas. The ditches have a good dragonfly fauna, including the rare hairy dragonfly.

Bowling Green Marsh (SX 973876): adjacent to the town of Topsham, this is the main high tide roost for the north of the estuary. Large numbers of waders and wildfowl gather here as the tide rises and covers the mudflats, especially in the winter. High numbers of black-tailed godwits can be seen and many widgeon graze on the Marsh.

Though rarely seen, otters use the site. Also, during the winter the RSPB runs special cruises from Topsham, Starcross and Exmouth which provide an excellent opportunity to view the 20,000 birds to be found on the Exe Estuary, including hundreds of avocets. RSPB guides provide expert commentary. Booking is essential as cruises book up fast — please call 01392 432691 for details. The River Exe is a diverse attraction that can be enjoyed by boat, from the reserves or on a greater scale by using the National Cycle Network which is planned to run along either side of the estuary. Where: SX 980830
When: Winter for birds, year round for general usage.
Facilities: Bus Stop, Car Park, Disabled Access, Dogs Allowed, Bird Hides, Cycle Paths, Resfrshments, Toilets, Visitor Centre, Walks, Watersports,
Access: Walkway available - links to Dartmoor from the Estuary on the Exe Valley Way and from Exmouth to Uplyme near Dorset by the East Devon Way. There is a cycle path from Exeter that extends partway to the Estuary, which can also be accessed by the South Coastal Path. Bus route also available.
Hints and Tips: The Exe is nationally important as a wintering site for avocets. - the emblem of the RSPB. A maximum of 500-600 of them congregate in flocks on the upper parts of the estuary.

Guide Prices

Ticket TypeTicket Tariff

Opening Times

Exe Estuary (1 Jan 2023 - 31 Dec 2024)



  • Guide Dogs Permitted


  • Picnic Site - Picnic sites along the Exe Estuary.

Establishment Features

  • Dogs-Accepted

Event Facilities

  • Free Entry

Key Features

  • In countryside
  • Outdoor Attraction



Map & Directions

Road Directions

Easy access off the A3052 Sidmouth Road out of Exeter on the A379 to Exmouth. The Exeter section can be reached by following signs for the Quayside at Exeter St David's train station



Public Transport Directions

Take the Avocet Line from Exeter to Exmouth to view the Exe Estuary.




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