East Devon is one of the most beautiful places in the region, especially if you love being at one with nature. Now that the government have unveiled their plans for easing lockdown restrictions, we thought we’d get you nature lovers excited about all the places you can enjoy while staying in Sidmouth later in the year and in 2022.
Please note – restrictions are still in place and it is unlikely that we will be able to enjoy trips until at least the summer. Please do not visit Sidmouth at this time – all this will still be there when restrictions are eased.
As the East Devon area is blessed with some incredible natural beauty, we thought we’d tell you about some of the nature reserves that can be easily reached from Sidmouth.
Located in nearby Seaton, is a tranquil woodland with plenty of paths to explore. It is managed by the team at wild East Devon and the volunteers work hard to conserve the area for wildlife, including birds, bats, weasels and mice. It offers great walking routes throughout the year and as the seasons change, you can always find something new to inspire you!
For those of you travelling from Sidmouth, there is parking available at the Seaton Down picnic site and the nature reserve is sign posted.
Speaking of Seaton, another amazing nature reserve in the area is Seaton Wetlands, a beautiful area of marshland alongside the River Axe. This is a great place for bird watchers as there are a number of hides dotted around the site and nearly 4km of trails and boardwalks, all of which are level, so the whole family can enjoy a day out here. There are a number of marshes that can be accessed from this area, including Black Hole Marsh, Colyford Common and more. Those of you visiting by car can park at Seaton Cemetery or at Hillymead.
Knapp Copse Local Nature Reserve
If you want to stay more local to Sidmouth, take a trip to Knapp Copse. This site has a wonderful mix of woodland, meadows and streams and can be found within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The nature reserve has a number of popular walking routes that take you through it including the East Devon Way, which links through to the South West Coast Path. It is also a Dark Skies Discovery Site, so whatever time of day you choose to visit, you can be sure of a beautiful sight. Anyone coming from further afield can make use of the free car park at Knapp Copse.
The Maer Local Nature Reserve
Another one for the bird lovers, Maer Local Nature Reserve is often referred to as Exmouth’s Worst Kept Secret – despite the fact that it remains quiet, it certainly isn’t hidden, it is just a short stroll from the seafront! The soil here means that a number of rare plants grow here, including Sea Holly and with rare plants come rare wild life. The reserve is home to several pairs of skylarks which are very uncommon in other parts of the UK. This one is a good for families, not only is there the space to run and play so close to the sea, but there is a play trail and the site is equipped with a mobile challenge, so you can use your smart phone whilse engaging with nature!
Also in Exmouth is Bystock Pools run by the Devon Wildlife Trust. This site features a lake, as well as an area of hearthland and meadows giving you plenty of places to explore. The area has a number of clearly marked walking routes, so you have lots of opportunities to find something new.
Venn Ottery Common
This site is part of the East Devon Pebbled Heath, one of the largest block of lowland heath that remains in the county. As you walk around you’ll likely find a number of the large pebbles beneath your feet – so make sure to keep an eye out for them! The heathland has lots of interesting flowers and wild plants including purple moor grass and is home to a small herd of ponies as well as birds, grass snakes, lizards and slow worms – these guys like to make an appearance in the summer months and you can often spot them sunbathing!
This is just a small selection of nature reserves and natural beauty spots that can be found in East Devon, don’t forget that the Byes and the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are also within easy reach of Sidmouth and are well worth a visit! Make sure to keep up to date with the latest government guidance by visiting gov.uk/coronavirus for full details of restrictions and dates for when they can be expected to be lifted.