Land based activities

There are a variety of land based activities available to visitors and locals on the Exe Estuary, this includes cycling, walking and running on the Exe Estuary Trail – a 22.5 mile accessible route around the estuary. The Exe Shore Code has been published by the EEMP to promote safe and considerate use of the estuary by walkers, birdwatchers, anglers and day visitors.

All users are asked to avoid disturbing wildlife on the Exe Estuary, particularly within two areas known as wildlife refuges which have been introduced to protect important feeding and roosting grounds. For more information please visit our wildlife designations page.


There are various attractions around the Exe, from leisure centres to amusement arcades and a magnificent 600-year old castle to explore, including:

  • Powderham Castle – a fortified manor house dating back to 1391 and home to the Earl and Countess of Devon
  • A la Ronde – an 18th century, 16 sided house near Lympstone with views over the Exe Estuary
  • Topsham museum – the museum’s Heritage lottery funded River Gallery displays the story of the River Exe

Details of more family attractions, as well as lots of other ways to enjoy the Exe can be found in our Exe Activities leaflet.

Bird Watching

For wildlife enthusiasts there are some key areas to visit, but timing is crucial, August to mid-March, 2 hours either side of high tide provides the best opportunity. Please ensure you avoid disturbing wildlife whilst enjoying the sights and avoid voluntary wildlife refuges where safe to do so.

Dawlish Warren regularly attracts around 180 to 190 species per year. Exminster and Powderham Marshes  and Bowling Green Marsh and Goosemoor are RSPB Reserves which lie on opposite sides of the northern end of the estuary. The eelgrass beds at Exmouth Local Nature Reserve are an important feeding ground for wintering birds, whilst The Old Sludge Beds are an extensive reedbed habitat and open water area. A bird hide and visitor centre at Darts Farm in Topsham offers the chance to view birds on the wetland.

Also see the Exe Wildlife leaflet and Cruises and Ferry Services page for details of bird and wildlife-watching trips on the water.


The Quay Climbing Centre, which is home to Clip n’Climb, provides exciting climbing opportunities for all levels of experience whatever the weather. It includes the largest dedicated indoor climbing wall in the south west, as well as bouldering caves, training walls and an abseil tower.


The Exe Estuary Trail is an easy way to see the estuary, the cycle and pedestrian path follows the train line around the estuary and offers stunning views without many hills. Read this Guardian article on cycling the trail or use the Exe Explorer leaflet to guide your visit.

There are a variety of cycle hire opportunities around the Exe Estuary, for further information please see our Exe Activities leaflet.

Dog Walking

Dog walking is a popular activity on the Exe, allowing dog walkers to enjoy the beautiful environment whilst exercising pets. Dogs are welcome on the Exe, but there are some restrictions in sensitive areas, so please read our Exe Dog Walking Code before heading out.

Devon Loves Dogs is a free membership scheme for people who care about our special wildlife and love dogs. Guided dog walks are arranged in a variety of outdoor spaces and members get a free membership pack with lots of helpful information. Sign up on their website, and follow them on Facebook or Twitter for all the latest news and photos.

If you would like to go where your dog can run freely and safely off the lead at all times of the year, visit Dawlish Countryside Park located on the west side of the estuary. This beautiful area is free to use, has a dedicated car park, many dog waste bins and is a great place for people too, with stunning views over the estuary.


There are several golf courses around the estuary where visitors to the area and locals alike can pay and play – no membership required.

Nordic walking

Learn to Nordic Walk and attend regular fitness walks taking place along and around the beautiful Exe Estuary with Nordic Walking in Devon!


The Exe Estuary is frequently used by people for fitness purposes including runners who enjoy the tranquillity of the estuary. There are several running organisations based around the Exe including Dawlish Coasters, Exmouth Harriers and South West Road Runners.


With scenic stretches of coastline, the Exe Estuary is a paradise for walkers of all abilities. The Exe Estuary Trail has now made the estuary accessible for walkers, wheelchairs and pushchairs.


Wildfowling is a carefully regulated activity permitted by Natural England. All wildfowling areas on the Estuary, such as the 30 acres of freshwater marsh at Exminster, are controlled by the Devon Wildfowling & Conservation Association (DWCA).

Codes of Conduct

The Exe Estuary Management Partnership has produced a series of codes of conduct guides for the Exe Estuary to help promote a safe and responsible approach to carrying out activities in the area. The Exe Shore Code is a guide for walkers, birdwatchers, anglers and day visitors to the Exe Estuary.