Wildlife Watching In and Around Dartmouth

Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve

Just a short car ride from Dartmouth you will find Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve. Set in stunning surroundings opposite the beautiful beach of Slapton Sands, this freshwater lake is a thriving hub for many species of wildlife. Particularly popular with birdwatchers, the nature reserve has circular walking routes and often hosts events for visitors to enjoy. The area covers marshland, reedbeds and woodland meaning it is a diverse habitat for plenty of different plants and animals. To find out more about Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve, please click here.

River Dart

The River Dart boasts a varied selection of animal habitats which provide the perfect places to spot flora and fauna. A boat trip on the Dart allows for the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of some beautiful creatures in their natural environment; often the boat trips will have someone onboard to help spot and explain the different wildlife you come across. From birds to otters and seals, wildlife in the River Dart and the surrounding area is as fascinating as the views are stunning so if you’re an animal lover or interested in plantlife, exploring the Dart should certainly be on your list.

Berry Head National Nature Reserve

Atop a cliff with views over the English Riviera (Torbay) and down the coast toward the mouth of the River Dart lies Berry Head National Nature Reserve. The headland is home to a Napoleonic fort, lighthouse and of course an abundance of wildlife to be discovered. To get to Berry Head National Nature Reserve you will need to hop on the ferry across to Kingswear then make your way to Brixham. The reserve can be reached by bus although it will involve at least a ½ mile walk with steep sections. For more information about Berry Head National Nature Reserve, please click here.


The coastline around Dartmouth serves ample opportunities to enjoy the local wildlife. If you head to Sugary and Castle Cove you could watch for dolphins and seals. Both animals are known to frequent the coast but of course there’s no guarantee you’ll see either! Nonetheless there are beautiful walks around the area and plenty of smaller marine life to be searched for in rock pools when the tide is right and in the shallows.

South West Coast Path

From Dartmouth Castle and Sugary Cove you can access the South West Coast Path. The coast path leads toward Little Dartmouth, a wonderful walking route or depending on how energetic you’re feeling, you can make your way along the coast to Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve. This stretch of the South West Coast Path not only offers unparalleled views of the gorgeous rugged scenery but also a great opportunity to see animals and plantlife in their natural environment. Birdlife is diverse and the unique area provides a rich habitat for various plants, flora and insects. To learn more about the South West Coast Path please click here.

National Trust Properties

Dartmouth is lucky to have two outstanding National Trust properties just on its doorstep: Greenway House; Agatha Christie’s holiday home in Galmpton, and Coleton Fishacre; a 1920s house and gardens. A short ferry ride up the river from Dartmouth will land you at Greenway, and Coleton Fishacre can be accessed by foot or car from Kingswear. Both properties often have events dedicated to exploring the wildlife in and around the grounds such as guided walks and pond dipping for the little ones to enjoy. To discover more about Greenway House, please click here. For more information on Coleton Fishacre, please click here.

Dartmouth and the surrounding area offer many opportunities for visitors to enjoy wildlife and plants in their natural habitat, whether you head to a nature reserve or simply enjoy the environment around the town. We love seeing your photos of Dartmouth so tag us in them on Instagram using @discoverdartmouth or #discoverdartmouth for your chance to be featured on our page – and don’t forget to follow us!

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