Exploring the Exe

World class wildlife, sandy beaches, historic buildings and water based recreation are some of the attractions to be found on the Exe Estuary.

With miles of cycle and foot paths and exceptional views, the Exe Estuary is a destination you can explore again and again. Whether you fancy a short stroll or something more adventurous there’s bound to be a route that suits you.

Our Exe Explorer leaflet is a guide to the footpaths, cycle ways and public transport options available around the Exe Estuary. Use the map, along with the accompanying route information (such as the ferry timetable), to create your own trails depending on where you would like to visit, your means of transport, and how long you would like to take. We have also provided some circular route suggestions to get you started!

  • Devon County Council has created a fantastic cycle/walkway known as the Exe Estuary Trail. It is part of Route 2 of the National Cycle Network as well as a scenic route for pedestrians.

    This 26 mile trail provides an exciting opportunity for people to cycle or walk around the entire Exe Estuary, appreciating the wildlife and passing through some beautiful riverside towns and villages steeped in maritime history. The trail connects 80,000 residents to the city of Exeter and is used by over 200,000 people each year.

    More information about the trail is available on the Travel Devon website.

    • Be polite and considerate. If someone lets you pass, thank them
    • Travel at a speed that is appropriate to the conditions, e.g. when the path is busy
    • Bikes are quiet so let people know you are coming – ring your bell, or a friendly “Hello!” often works wonders
    • Be prepared to slow or stop – there may be people who don’t know you are there, or dogs off their lead
    • Take care when passing others, especially children and older or disabled people and allow them plenty of room
    • There are on-road sections, e.g. in Exton, Lympstone, Topsham and Dawlish. These may be on narrow roads and hilly, so please take extra care and consider others
    • If you’re cycling with children, take up a position behind them. If there are two adults in your group, it’s a good idea to have one at the back and one in front of the children.

  • The Travel Devon website provides tools and information to help you plan a journey by foot, bike, bus, rail or car in Devon, including:

    • Maps and timetables
    • Top tips for exploring the county
    • Information on cycle training
    • Travel support for the journey to work and school
    • Links to journey planners and other useful sites

    There’s a range of other great cycling and walking trails in Devon for all abilities, with easy access to some of the best of the county’s landscape and natural heritage including wildlife and geology. Start exploring now – visit the Explore Devon website.

  • From September to March the estuary is home to more than 20,000 migrating and overwintering birds, which use it as a refuge and intensive feeding area. Please take extra care at this time not to disturb the birds and other wildlife, as this can impact on their health and survival.

    Wildlife refuges are in place to protect vital areas for birds – please avoid entering these voluntary areas where safe to do so.


  • As well as circular routes around the Exe, there are also several long distance routes which can be met on the estuary.

    The South West Coast Path

    The South West Coast path is a National Trail of 630 miles of superb coastal walking from Minehead on the edge of the Exmoor National Park to the shores of Poole Harbour in Dorset.

    Exe Valley Way

    The Exe Valley Way follows the route of the Exe from its source on Exmoor through the Devon countryside, as it meanders for over 50 miles to reach the open estuary. The route can be divided up into a series of 10 stages, most of which can be walked in half a day.

    East Devon Way

    The East Devon Way is a 40 mile walking route through East Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty providing spectacular views, a wealth of wildlife and diverse geology. Detailed Guides for these routes are available from Tourist Information Centres.

  • The Exe Estuary is well served by bus and train routes. The estuary’s railways are amongst the most scenic in Britain. The Avocet Line runs between Exeter, Topsham and Exmouth and offers lovely views of the estuary. The Riviera Line offers great scenic rail journeys between Exeter, Starcross, Dawlish Warren and Paignton stations and includes the world famous stretch of line along the sea wall through Dawlish and Teignmouth.

    For more information about these lines, including walks from stations, visit Great Scenic Railways.

    For rail and bus service times, and bike policies, contact:

    Foot ferries

    See our Ferries and Cruises page  or the map contained within the Exe Explorer leaflet for more details of ferry services and routes.

    Bookings may be necessary for some ferry services and some only operate seasonally. Bicycles and pushchairs can be accommodated, please contact individual companies for details. Be aware that some routes involve steps.

  • Cycle hire

    See list of cycle hire and bike retail outlets around the Exe Estuary on the Travel Devon website.

    Devon Cycling Holidays

    Cycle hire delivered to your door by Devon Cycling Holidays and The Bike Bus!

    Phone 01392 271426 / 07773 362119

    Canoe and kayak hire:

    Saddles and Paddles  (also cycle hire): Phone 01392 424241
    AS Watersports:  Phone 01392 219600

    Pedalo hire (available during the summer): Phone 07984 368442

Pick up the Exe Activities leaflet to find out more about recreational activities that are available on the Exe. We also have leaflets detailing the Wildlife you can see on the Exe and outlining the Heritage of the area. See our full range of leaflets, including printable versions.

We want all visitors to the Exe Estuary to have the best experience they can, whilst protecting the natural environment and the wildlife that lives there, so please also take note of our Codes of Conduct guides, especially the Exe Shore Code.