You get the best of both worlds with this walk in East Devon. There
are fantastic views along the River Otter estuary - with lots of
birdlife to see - and part of the walk also takes in a section of
the East Devon coast which has been named a World Heritage Site
by the United Nations.
The walk begins in the village of Otterton, where there is plenty
of on-road, free-of-charge parking.
walk starts here...
the bottom end of the village is a picturesque bridge over the River
Otter, where you start the walk following the right bank of the
This walk was taken in the middle of winter, which is the perfect
time to see the river in full flow, and the birdlife in full flight.
After around half-an-hour walking along the river, with open fields
to your right, you reach a road. Turn left here and go over the
bridge, so that you are now on the left bank of the widening estuary.
This is the Otter Estuary Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific
Interest - an area of reed bed and grazing marsh (Grid Ref: SY 076
822). The 23-hectare reserve, which is managed by the Clinton Devon
Estates, is full of bird varieties at this time of year.
If you follow
the sign posts around the reserve, with open fields now on your
left, you will see a bird hide half-way up the hill overlooking
the estuary. From here, you can spy on all the goings-on down on
the river. During this walk, there were literally hundreds and hundreds
of birds enjoying a swim.
River Otter's meandering estuary
of the birds come here to get away from colder winter climes, and
to enjoy all the food on offer on the estuary. Among them are wildfowl
and waders, redshank, greenshank, dunlin, common sandpiper, ringed
plover, grey plover, curlew and snipe. To name but a few.
Having had a little rest in the bird hide, the walk then continues
to the mouth of the River Otter, where you can look across to the
seaside town of Budleigh Salterton.
This is where you join up with the South West Coast Path eastwards
- and upwards! There is a climb, a drop and another ascent along
this stretch of the coast, which is part of the newly-named World
cliffs are a dramatic sight, and on a clear day you can see High
Peak and Sidmouth in the distance. This was not a clear day, however...
coastline just up from Budleigh Salterton
takes around an hour or so to walk from the road bridge at the Nature
Reserve, to a footpath sign, which sends you inland and back to
After the hilly coastal section, the rest of the walk is nice and
path, which can be muddy in places, disects typical Devon farmland
- all red soil and rolling hills.
And, once back in Otterton, what better way to round off the walk
than to have a pub lunch in the King's Arms. Like many other rural
pubs in Devon, the King's Arms also doubles up as the local function
rooms - the hub of the community.
In all, the walk
takes between two and three hours, depending on how long you decide
to linger to take in the views. The going is moderate - but make
sure you've got appropriate footwear, as it can be muddy in places
during wet weather.