Wild Devon: North Devon offers a vast array of beautiful wild and interesting places to visit, all are easily accessible from Dunsdon Farm, North Devon’s beautiful wild sites offer everything from isolated beaches and coves to historic parklands and quirky huts.
A holiday in Devon would not be complete without a look at its wild side, below we have listed a few of our favourite and best examples.
Dunsdon National Nature Reserve near Holsworthy is one of the best examples – and last survivors – of Culm grassland in the county. Culm is a marshy, heathy vegetation that occurs over the slates and shales of the Culm Measures in north western Devon. Dunsdon’s uncultivated meadows offer a habitat in which wildlife – in particular butterflies – thrive, including the rare marsh frittilary butterfly whose presence is a good indicator of healthy Culm grassland. Orchids show their colourful heads through the grasses – visit in early summer to witness the best of Dunsdon’s offerings.
“A beautiful, and peaceful wildlife gem, right next to our lovely holiday cottage in Devon”
Marsland is a very large reserve on the northern border of Devon and Cornwall. Extending several kilometres inland from a dramatic coastline, this inspiring site offers something for everyone.
It is an exceptionally diverse nature reserve consisting largely of a wooded, steep-sided valley, along with coastal heath and grassland, meadows, woodland glades, bracken-covered slopes and small streams and ponds. At certain times of year it is rich in wild flowers and the woodlands are alive with birds.
“Marsland is probably one of the most varied and interesting reserves in Devon, it was a beautiful day to finish our short break in Devon”
This quirky lookout hut was built by the Rector Robert Hawker and eccentric local parson, who wore fisherman’s boots, wrote poetry and smoked opium dressed as a mermaid.
Hawker’s clifftop retreat was originally constructed in around 1844, using timber from the wrecks of the Caledonia, the Phoenix, and the Alonzo. – A Great Place to watch the sunset
“We arrived at Hawkers just before dusk as our holiday cottage visitor information had advised, to watch a beautiful sunset and eat pizza”
Part of the North Devon Biosphere the Braunton Burrows, a sand dune system designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Braunton Burrows and its part of the estuary are managed and maintained as a world-class mix of dynamic coastal habitat features. It is used as a study area for conservation of these types of habitats and activities that positively promote their conservation.
“A visit to Squires fish and chip shop and a cycle to the Burrows, made the final day of our cycling holiday in Devon – just brilliant!”
Meeth Quarry is unlike any other Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserve. Its industrial past has dramatically shaped its present. For nearly 100 years it was a series of busy clay quarries and mines. Today, two enormous lakes and massive piles of clay spoil dominate its features. Elsewhere there are ponds, woodlands, bogs and grasslands.
Together these make Meeth Quarry nature reserve a home for a diverse range of wildlife and a wonderful place to explore.
“A trip we will not forget, we managed to see a number of Marsh Frittilary butterflies, along with a
few we could not identify – our five star Devon holiday cottage was a great base to visit Meeth”
Unspoilt island, home to a fascinating array of wildlife amidst dramatic scenery Undisturbed by cars, the island encompasses a small village with an inn and Victorian church, and the 13th-century Marisco Castle. There’s also a disused lighthouse to discover. Called the Old Light, it offers superb views over the north part of the island.
For nature-lovers there are the variety of seabirds, wildlife, flora and fauna. Designated the first Marine Conservation Area, Lundy offers opportunities for diving and seal watching.
“Leaving The Old Shippon, very early was well worth it – Lundy island is beautiful and so peaceful.
next time we visit Devon we will be sure to go to Lundy island again!”
Duckpool, found at the foot of the Coombe Valley, a long open valley that is cut in two by a meandering stream. There are beautiful walks to be had here with streams that criss cross bridges wending up to Stowe and beyond. This area boasts some fine walks along the cliff tops. Inland at the head of the Coombe valley are Lee Wood and Stowe Wood, the latter being the site of an old settlement.
“Duckpool is within easy reach of our luxury Devon holiday cottage; and well worth the visit! In fact we took our dog Freddy most days”
A grand Parkland abundant in wildlife and with over 900 years of history – Perfect for a walk or picnic
The park is home to a variety of trees, including 700-year-old Sweet Chestnuts and old fruit trees.
Wander around the remaining buildings of Tudor Dunsland House. All apart from the old stable and coach house were lost in a fire in the 1960s.
The trees in Dunsland park support many rare lichens and provide a rich habitat for wildlife.
Colourful Blue Bells and Primroses can be seen in spring and you may hear the rustle of Dormice and Roe Deer. Look out for Dippers and Sparrow Hawks too.
“ We visited Dunsland on a warm day, taking a picnic – wow! So tranquil, we wanted a quiet
holiday in Devon countryside and we got it!”