Exploring Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve
The Nature Reserve is a fantastic place for all the family to visit
It’s just down the road from Hazelwood Holiday park, right next to the blue flag beach. This area of sand dunes, mudflats and beach that lies at the mouth of the River Exe is one of the most important places for wildfowl and wading birds in the whole of the South West and the dunes and grassland have over 600 types of flowering plants. Over the years it has featured many times in the BBC’s Springwatch and its a favourite holiday destination for birdwatchers from all over Britain.
An Exciting Programme of Events and Activities
Keep the children busy with the Wardens guided walks and children activities. Call in at the Visitor Centre which has information displays and leaflets, the Wardens are based here and most events and activities start from here. The centre is open most days from April to September and on weekends only from October to March. Usual opening is from 10.30am to 5pm (closed for lunch from 1-2pm, and also when in use for groups or when the Wardens are working on site). Call the Wardens in advance of your trip on 01626 863980 or 01626 215754 for information about what’s on.
The Bird Hide
From the bird hide you will have excellent views, particularly of wading birds and wildfowl in winter. Viewing is best 2-3 hours either side of high tides as this is when several thousand birds gather, including important flocks of Dunlin, Grey Plover, Bar Tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher. Brent Geese, Wigeon and Teal also shelter in inshore waters. Sandwich Terns arrive in Summer to feed their young on Sand Eels. Skylarks and Linnets are found breeding in the dunes.
Access requires some walking on soft sand so it’s a great workout just getting there and the spectacular scenery along the way will make it all the more exhilarating. Do beware of golf balls when you approach the hide as Dawlish warren golf Club is in the vicinity.
A Host of Special Plants
The warm and sunny climate of the Warren allows rare plants to grow here. Sand Crocus, Southern Marsh Orchids, Autumn Lady’s Tresses and Petalwort have been found, some of Europes most threatened plants.
The Warren is so important that it is protected for it’s wildlife by national and international law and it is managed so that the public can appreciate and enjoy the site without damaging it.
Facilities and Access
There is open access to most of the Reserve, including the bird hide at all times. However there is no public access to the golf course and mudflats.
Dogs must be on a lead over most of the Reserve and are not allowed in some areas. (There are dog friendly areas of the beach where you can let them off the lead).
Admission to the Reserve is free although there are car parking charges to be aware of. The Nature Reserve is only a short level walk from Hazelwood Holiday Park however.
See the map and signs on the Reserve for details of bird resting areas on the beach, to be avoided at sensitive times.
Disabled access is via routes from the main car park to the Promenade and the Visitor Centre, wheelchairs and pushchairs will find much of the rest of the site has soft sand which makes access difficult.
Toilets are on the nearby beach resort area, there are none at the visitor centre or on the reserve.