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Dawlish Warren NNR Visitor Centre

Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve

Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve, Devon is located on a long sand spit at the mouth of the River Exe. The sand spit is home to many species of wildlife and holds geomorphologic interest.
Habitats at the Warren, include dunes, grassland, ponds, salt marsh and mudflats. The Warren is also the main roost for wildfowl and wading birds of the Exe Estuary.
Nature Reserve Logo


Almost 600 different types of flowering plants have so far been recorded at Dawlish Warren. These include the Warren Crocus (indigenous to the Warren only) and a collection of orchids.
The most common of plant species is the Marram grass. The grass is most vigorous on seaward slopes, where it is buried regularly by windblown sand. At these sites, new healthy white roots develop in the fresh layer of sand. The growth becomes less vigorous when the sand accumulation diminishes.

Common to the reserve is the Ragwort plant, providing a food source for the yellow and black striped caterpillars of the Cinnabar moth.

Cinnabar Caterpillar Marram Grass Small


Bird watching is popular at the Warren due mostly to the large migrate bird population. Avocets and Brent Geese are winter time residents. Oystercatchers and Terns also live at the Warren.

Avocet Brent Geese Oystercatcher Tern
Avocet Brent Geese Oystercatcher Tern
Widgeon Godwit Redshank Turnstones
Widgeon Godwit Redshank Turnstones

Bird Watching

There is a bird watching hide situated about a mile north-east of the Visitor Centre. It has open access and provides excellent viewing for wading birds and wildfowl in winter. Viewing is best 2 hours either side of medium high tides. Maps on site show the location of the hide. There is no public access to the Golf Course, mudflats or saltmarsh.


Teignbridge District Council owns the public parts of the site. Anyone wishing to bring visiting groups or use the Nature Reserve for fieldwork, must get permission. Teachers, group leaders and students must book with the Wardens before finalising their topic or arrangements.


Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve is open to the general public. Dawlish Warren can be reached by car off the A379. At the bottom of the hill in Dawlish Warren village, turn into Beach Road. Drive through the entrance tunnel under the railway (NB height restriction 2.54m) and park in the far end of the large pay and display car park. The reserve is beyond the wooden 'field gate'.

Wheelchair and Pushchair Access

There is suitable access for wheelchairs and pushchairs as far as the Visitor Centre. The most convenient route to use for wheelchairs is along the promenade. A boardwalk at the north-east end of the promenade provides access to the Visitor Centre.


Toilets are situated near the 'entrance tunnel' and in the resort area only.
photo Dogs must be kept on leads, no more than 2 metres in length, all year round.  

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