For nature lovers

While Lundy Island may be the Devon destination grabbing the headlines for the rare birds that end up on its shores, down here in the south of the county we’re also blessed with more than our fair share of natural wonders.

A seaside treasure trove

Probably my favourite place in South Devon, Slapton is steeped in history and the view down over the bay and the Ley as you drive along the coast road from Dartmouth rivals anywhere in the world.

Just yards from the sea, across the arrow-straight road that runs along the bay for almost 4 miles, is Slapton Ley. This freshwater nature reserve has over 490 acres of natural woodland, reedbeds and marshes and is a haven for migrating and resident birds as well as a plethora of other wildlife. It’s the largest natural lake in this corner of the country, separated from the sea by nothing more than the shingle.

You can do circular walks around the Ley and there are regular information posts with helpful guides to the birds, animals and insects that make it their home. The loud and proud Cetti’s warbler can be heard here all year round and, if you’re very quiet, you might spot otters roaming around too. There are also lots of wildflowers, like Vipers Bugloss, and plenty of fungi and lichens. Perfect to get away from it all, or for a fun family bug-hunt!

"Plenty of space, teeming with nature and a truly unique landscape. I love living in South Devon!"

- Keith

Road trips and river paddles

For something completely different, drive inland a little way to Dartmoor. You can head almost anywhere in these magnificent uplands and see something special, so one of my top recommendations is simply heading out for a drive and seeing where the road takes you. The family and I love spotting the wild ponies on the horizon, like magical creatures.

Wild ponies at Dartmoor
Wild ponies at Dartmoor

We also often visit Bellever Forest, which is a great place for a picnic and paddle in the river. There are fields enclosed with drystone walls that hold beautiful meadows of flowers in the summer, alive with different kinds of bees and butterflies. If you walk along the river, meanwhile, the kids will love spotting dragonflies that dart along the water’s surface as they jump between the stepping-stones.

The river at Bellever Forest
The river at Bellever Forest

Mighty birds of prey

Haldon Forest is beautiful in its own right, but it’s also worth visiting to see if you can spot one of the five birds of prey that nest amongst the trees. For me, it’s one of the top birdwatching sites in Devon because of the raptor viewpoint deep in the forest. Here, you can look out over the Teign Valley to watch these magnificent birds riding the thermals high in the sky, then diving for food or tumbling through the air together. It’s certainly a sight that reminds you what an amazing world we’re lucky enough to live in, and it’s right here on the doorstep!

"Most nature reserves have reopened but do check the Haldon Forest website to make sure the bird of prey viewpoint will be open before you travel"

- Keith

Continue the journey

Let us take you on a journey to South Devon from the comfort of your sofa! In these uncertain times, we’re bringing the best of England and Wales to you – so read on and experience Keith from Blueriver Cottages’ favourite places to go and some hidden gems, too. We’ve got plenty of nearby properties, and can’t wait to welcome you back soon…