The immediate vicinity of Budleigh Salterton contains a tremendous diversity of natural habitats, which support a wealth of flora and fauna.
From the high windblown expanses of the heath lands to the sheltered lowland pastures and from the mud of the tidal reaches of the River Otter to the 400+feet high cliffs above Sandy Bay, there is so much of interest to everyone, from inquisitive amateur naturalists to occasional walkers.
The Otter Estuary is a nature reserve and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and part of the South West Coast Path which is managed by the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust. The estuary was formed by the pebble bank separating it from the sea. The path running along the top of the pebble bank has been constructed for wheelchairs, it runs northwards from Lyme Kiln car park to White Bridge with viewing platforms to give wheelchair users uninterrupted views over the saltmarsh.
The South West Coast Path is used by 250,000 people a year. The section from Exmouth to Lyme Regis through Budleigh Salterton offers spectacular views. From Budleigh many of these can be incorporated into shorter round walks or accessed by public transport, thus allowing you to plan ‘Walk out – Bus back’ outings.
Birdwatchers can enjoy the wide variety of birds who visit the estuary throughout the year.
The heath lands are comprised of a series of seven commons, owned and managed by Clinton Devon Estates. These form the major part of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths and are one of the most important heath land areas in the U.K.
This unique habitat has developed over many centuries by local people exercising their commoner’s rights to use this area as a source of fuel, grazing land and bedding for their animals.
Nowadays it is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is used by the Royal Marines for training, by visitors and residents for recreational purposes and is a conservation site for its unique flora and fauna.
There’s Beavers in Budleigh!
The five year beaver trial began in Spring 2015 with the return of two family groups of beavers back into the River Otter.
It has been five centuries since the species was hunted to extinction in Britain. Now these families of beavers have made their home and have been found swimming in the wild again along the River Otter. We do not know where they originated from but now we know that the beavers have been living on the river since 2007. They really came to the public prominence in 2014 when they were shown to be breeding. Initially the government proposed to remove them from the river, but following a campaign by local residents and others the Devon Wildlife Trust was granted a licence to re-release the beavers back once they had been shown fit and healthy.
The beavers are completely vegetarian, feeding mainly on grasses and living in burrows in the river bank living quite happily alongside the otters and often share the same stretch of river with them.
It is occasionally possible to see them particularly during the long summer evenings walking alongside the riverside public footpaths. Wear quiet clothing and be aware that the wind may carry your scent towards the beavers.
Please stick to the public footpaths following the Countryside Code. If you do see beavers on the river please take note of date, time and location and coloured ear tags and let the Wildlife Trust know.
Budleigh Salterton’s coastline is part of England’s first natural World Heritage Site. A vast primeval river flowed across this part, laying down the great pebble beds that form our splendid pebble beach and the rich red sandy soils were of ancient deserts.
Welcome to the Jurassic Coast – England’s first natural World Heritage Site. This unique stretch of coastline has joined the ranks of the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon as one of the Wonders of the natural world.
The Dorset and East Devon Coast has become a World Heritage Site due to its outstanding geology, which represents 185 million years of earth history in just 95 miles. It displays not just superb Jurassic, but older Triassic and younger Cretaceous rocks too. Take a walk through time along the coast and see the geological story for yourself!
The rusty reds and oranges of the Triassic rocks are due to their origin. Iron minerals have weathered to produce the spectacular colour of the cliffs. The cliffs in the western part of Budleigh expose the full thickness of lower Triassic Budleigh Salterton Pebblebeds. The beds are made up of well rounded red and grey cobbles and pebbles.
Find out more about the Jurassic Coast at www.jurassiccoast.com
Sea cruises along the Jurassic Coast operate during the season, giving you a different perspective on the fascinating shoreline.
The Jurassic Coast is stunningly beautiful, with an unparalleled range of natural features. The variety of landslides, beaches, bays and cliffs results in a constantly-changing landscape.
The layers of pebbles found in the cliffs at Budleigh Salterton originated over 400 million years ago when sandstones formed in the place we now call Brittany. These rocks were then eroded and transported by vast rivers during the Triassic period to form the Budleigh Salterton Pebble Beds. The pebbles then fell onto the beach and were transported to the east by the sea. Distinct Budleigh pebbles can be found all along the World Heritage site and beyond.
The staff of the Budleigh Salterton Tourist Information Centre are here to help you find out more – click here for details.