Whether you’re an avid wildlife-watcher or just enjoy spending time outside spotting various animals in their habitats, Dartmouth is a great place to do just that.
Just a short car ride from Dartmouth you will find Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve. Set in stunning surroundings opposite the beautiful beaches of Slapton Sands and Torcross, the freshwater lake here is a thriving hub for many species of wildlife. Particularly popular with birdwatchers, the nature reserve is made up of circular walking routes and often hosts events for visitors to enjoy, such as birdwatching or bat watching. The area covers marshland, reedbeds and woodland meaning it is a diverse habitat for plenty of different plants and animals. You can find out more about Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve here.
Dartmouth rests on the mouth of the River Dart which travels from Dartmoor to the sea, passing through many quaint villages. The river boasts a varied selection of animal habitats which offer the perfect places to spot local flora and fauna. You could take a boat trip along the Dart for the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of some beautiful creatures in their natural environment; often the boat trips will have someone on-board to offer guidance and explain the different wildlife you come across. From birds to seals, wildlife in the River Dart and the surrounding area is as fascinating as the views are stunning. If you’re an animal lover or interested in plant life, an exploration of the Dart should certainly be on your list.
With views over the English Riviera and down the coast toward the mouth of the River Dart lies Berry Head National Nature Reserve atop a hill in Brixham. The headland is home to a Napoleonic fort, lighthouse and of course as a nature reserve, it has 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. The other option is to drive over as there is National Trust parking here.
The coastline around Dartmouth serves ample opportunities to enjoy the local wildlife. If you head to one of the beaches in Dartmouth such as Sugary Cove or Castle Cove you could watch for dolphins and seals. Both animals are known to frequent the coast but of course there’s no guarantee! 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 low.
From Sugary Cove you can access the South West Coast Path. The coast path leads toward Little Dartmouth, a wonderful walking route or you can make your way along the coast even further to Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve if you’re feeling energetic. This stretch of the South West Coast Path not only offers unbeatable views of the gorgeous rugged scenery but also a great opportunity to see many animals in their natural environment. Birdlife is diverse and the unique area provides a rich habitat for various plants, flora and insects.
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 along 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!