Nature Reserves

RSPB Exe Estuary

Devon - Topsham

United Kingdom

  • Beaches
  • Sightseeing

Taking the kids out for the day to RSPB Exe Estuary in Devon - Free Stuff!


01392 432691
Exe Estuary
United Kingdom


Sunday 09:00 - 17:30
Monday 09:00 - 17:30
Tuesday 09:00 - 17:30
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:30
Thursday 09:00 - 17:30
Friday 09:00 - 17:30
Saturday 09:00 - 17:30



  • Free for all


Just five miles from Exeter city centre, Exminster and Powderham Marshes are great places to see birds all year-round. You can enjoy lovely walks here in this fascinating landscape.

The marshes are a vital feeding and resting area for large numbers of birds which come here on their migration and to spend the winter – so watch out for big flocks of geese, ducks and waders. This is also one of the last few places in south-west England where lapwings and redshanks still nest.

We keep these two special places just the way the birds like them, by cutting the grass for hay and controlling the water levels. Grazing cattle help keep the grass just the right length.

This is a place filled with human history, too. The land was originally part of the estuary until the Exeter Ship Canal was built in the 19th Century, and the remains of the RAF's World War II signal interception base can still be seen today.

You can get refreshments at the Swans Nest Inn and the Turf Pub (which is closed for some winter months), where patrons can also use the toilet facilities.

Opening times

Open at all times

Entrance charges

It's free, but donations are welcome

Information for dog owners

Registered Assistance dogs are welcome, other dogs on public roads and footpaths only. Please keep dogs on leads at all times to limit disturbance to wildlife and grazing animals. No dogs allowed at Powderham Marshes as this is a permissive rather than public footpath.


By bicycle (Sustrans cycle route)

Adjacent to the National Cycle Network Route 2.

By train

Exeter Central and Exeter St Davids stations are just over five miles (7 km) away. Complete the journey from Exeter bus station; take the Number 2 Exeter to Teignmouth bus (see bus information). Topsham Station is on the east bank - complete the journey via the foot ferry that departs near the Passage House Inn, Topsham.

By bus

There is a regular bus service (Number 2 Exeter - Dawlish Warren - Dawlish - Teignmouth - Newton Abbot). The Swan's Nest stop is close to the Swans Nest roundabout at the southern end of Exminster. From the Swans Nest roundabout, it's a five minute walk down Station Road past Swans Nest Inn to the RSPB car park (take sharp right after the overbridge). The seasonal circular route around our Exminster Marshes nature reserve can be accessed from the car park. RSPB Powderham Marsh nature reserve is accessed from the car park at the rear of Swans Nest Inn (by kind permission).

By road

On the west side of the Exe, on the outskirts of Exminster, Exminster Marshes nature reserve is at grid ref: SX954872. At the southern end of Exminster village take the Station Road exit from the Swans Nest roundabout off the A379. Go past the Swans Nest Inn and over the railway bridge. The lane to the RSPB car park is then immediately to the right (signposted). Powderham Marsh nature reserve (SX953871) is accessed from the car park at the rear of the Swans Nest Inn (by kind permission). It's easy to walk from one to the other along Station Road – but please take care as there are no footpaths, few verges and at times there can be a quite a bit of traffic.

Sat nav POI file

If you have a satellite navigation system that can accept POI files, please see ourPOI page for a download link and instructions.

Other ways to get to the reserve

The summer foot ferry links Topsham (and our Bowling Green Marsh hide and The RSPB Shop at Darts Farm) with these reserves. The departure points are Passage Inn, Topsham and Topsham Lock Cottage on the west bank. Then take the canal path towards the Turf Pub (pub closed some winter months) for good views over the reserve or take Station Road through the reserve to our car park. For details about the ferry, call: 07801 203338.