The Wildlife of Devon in Summer
We designed this itinerary to show you the best of Devon’s wild places and their charismatic fauna and flora. The tour combines iconic landscapes and wildlife with time to explore the region’s history, its scrumptious food, and the fascinating world of the smaller animals and birds.
Joining this unique tour helps support the excellent work of the Devon Wildlife Trust. For a taster of some of the wildlife and landscapes that can be seen, have a look at our in-house short film here: Wild Devon Video
Led by two of Devon’s most experienced naturalist guides, this exciting small group tour takes a fascinating journey through Devon’s varied habitats in search of its most charismatic wildlife.
Our first wildlife encounters will be in East Devon’s internationally important heathlands, geologically rich Jurassic coastline and wildlife rich River Otter. A definite highlight will be watching one of the many families of wild Eurasian beavers living along the River Otter, the first population in England for over 400 years. We will also visit a wildlife-friendly coastal farm where the nationally rare cirl bunting is bouncing back along with other species such as brown hare and skylark.
After two nights of beaver watching and other exploration of East Devon, we move to a historic hotel on the edge of Dartmoor National Park for three nights. We venture into rugged Dartmoor where ancient woodlands harbouring rare birds and upland pastures full of fascinating insect and plant life can be found.
We spend a delightful day cruising the coast of Torbay, a UNESCO Global Geopark with a surprisingly diverse marine life offshore. Our dedicated natural history boat trip gives the best chance for memorable encounters with pods of playful common dolphins and harbour porpoises, curious Atlantic grey seals and abundant seabirds. The rocky headland of Berry Head, a National Nature Reserve, will reveal resplendent coastal wildflowers and nesting seabirds and butterflies as we learn about its interesting geological history.
On another day we visit the rolling hills and wooded valleys of Exmoor National Park, home to southwest England’s last population of red deer and the iconic Exmoor pony. We spend evenings watching badgers from a purpose-built hide, greater horseshoe bats hunting along green lanes and the entertaining display flights of European nightjars hidden in the heathland.
Accommodation is of a good standard and the many trails make this an active and highly rewarding trip. We have kept the group small to maximise wildlife viewing and access to your guides, both of whom have extensive and profound knowledge of the region’s surprisingly abundant natural history.
COVID-19: Please note that for 2021 the group tours will be on a self-drive basis to minimise close contact. Guests will travel to each of the specified locations in their own private vehicles. Detailed location information, maps and satnav coordinates will of course be provided. For the 2022 tours it is intended to use one vehicle for group transportation: please contact us for 2022 dates and other information.
Arrive in East Devon and settle into your accommodation. After dinner we can enjoy our first evening watching one of the many families of beavers living wild on the River Otter.
Staying at Syon House. Includes No Meals.
A full day to explore East Devon. In the morning we visit a nearby nature reserve, part of the Pebblebed Heathlands, to explore wet and dry heathland, acidic pools, woodland and meadows.
We will look out for the many special birds and insects found here before enjoying a traditional Devon lunch at a local mill. In the afternoon we will take a scenic walk through a local wildlife friendly farm – home to cirl bunting and hare – with stunning views across the Jurassic Coastline. Tonight, we will have a second evening of beaver and other wildlife watching on the River Otter.
Staying at Syon House. Includes Breakfast and Lunch.
This morning we transfer to our next accommodation, before setting off for a day to explore the best of Dartmoor National Park. We will take a route that showcases both the natural and historical highlights of this wild corner of Devon.
We will stop for a picnic lunch at the wildlife friendly Challacombe farm and a full Devon Cream Tea before visiting the enchanting Wistman’s Wood, an ancient relic of gnarled oak and moss covered boulders.
This evening we will visit Buckfastleigh to see the emergence of greater horseshoe bats.
Staying at Moorland Hotel Haytor. Includes Breakfast and Lunch.
Today we will visit the beautiful coastline of Torbay for a cruise into the coastal waters in search of common dolphins, porpoises, grey seals, and other marine life.
After a traditional and sustainable fish and chips lunch in the quaint fishing town of Brixham we will explore the dramatic Berry Head National Nature Reserve. At this time of year, the headland is home to nesting seabirds, rare butterflies and insects, and ablaze with wildflower colour.
In the evening we will explore the nearby Bovey Heathfield Nature Reserve, a refuge for many reptiles, amphibians, rare insects, and birds including the European nightjar which we hope to spot displaying at dusk.
Staying at Moorland Hotel Haytor. Includes Breakfast and Lunch.
This morning we will set off for a day to enjoy the beautiful, wooded valleys and heather moorlands of Exmoor National Park. We will be on the lookout for the majestic red deer and a range of rare woodland birds and butterflies as well as the hardy Exmoor pony.
Later in the day we will have dinner at a local pub before an exclusive evening of badger watching from a purpose built hide deep within a hazel woodland.
Staying at Moorland Hotel Haytor. Includes Breakfast.
This morning we will visit the wildlife rich Yarner Wood where the birdlife includes pied flycatchers, redstarts and lesser spotted woodpeckers, and for insects, pearl-bordered fritillaries and huge wood ant colonies.
We will also visit the charming Emsworthy Mire Reserve where we may still see spectacular bluebell displays, cuckoos and adders. We will also stop to admire some of the impressive tors and history of this side of Dartmoor. We will then make our way back to the hotel for departure.
Includes Breakfast and Lunch.
Download the full details of this itinerary and start planning your trip today.
Moorland Hotel Haytor
Well situated within 11 acres of landscaped paddocks and woodlands at the base of the iconic Haytor within Dartmoor National Park, the Moorland Hotel is full of history having had many famous faces pass through its doors including Agatha Christie and Sir Tommy Flowers. The hotel offers 36 modern and comfortable rooms, most with views towards the nearby moorland or woodland. The Conservatory restaurant offers a tasty local menu with views as far as Torbay in the distance.
Private bathrooms, flat screen TV and tea and coffee facilities in the room. A large resturant offering a wide range of local produce and and specialities.
Nearby nature reserves are home to goshawks, pied flycatchers, redstarts, cuckoos, lesser spotted woodpeckers, adders, roe deer, stoats and a plethora of insects. Butterflies include the pearl-bordered, small pearl-bordered, high brown, dark green and silver-washed fritillaries. There are also mire, heath, moor and woodland habitats to explore. Dartmoor Ponies are often to be found grazing around the grounds and ravens, curlews and wheatears breed nearby.
Wildlife, history and nature walks across Dartmoor and south Devon.
Situated on the edge of the quaint village of East Budleigh and within a few minutes of the River Otter and its famous beavers, Syon House is the perfect base for exploring scenic East Devon. Each room is thoughtfully and distinctively decorated and features comfortable Egyptian cotton sheets and amenities including a flat screen TV and tea and coffee facilities. The hotel is located within spacious grounds, often visited by the local badgers, and there are two friendly dogs in attendance. Please note that evening and lunch time meals are not usually available but there are a range of local pubs and restaurants in the area.
Private bathrooms, flat screen TV and tea and coffee facilities in the room. Breakfasts are catered for but lunch and evening meals can be taken at local cafes, pubs and restaurants.
Beavers, otters and badgers are all found close by. Birdlife includes kingfishers, dippers, grey wagtails along the River otter while the nearby heathlands are home to reptiles, Dartford warbler, hobby, nightjar and there are cirl buntings and hares in the nearby farms.
Beaver and otter watching on the River Otter, wildlife walks on the Pebblebed Heathlands, Blackdown Hills, Exe Estuary, Seaton Marshes and fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast.
Are International Flights Included?
No. Please contact us for a quote if required.
May to September
Are you ATOL Registered?
Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.
Please note that this group itinerary or a similar one can be privately arranged on a tailor-made basis to suit your specific interests and dates, subject to availability of accommodation so early booking is recommended (see our tailor-made tour option).
Why not also extend your time in Devon with another weekend to perhaps enjoy other attractions such as the many lovely beaches, seaside towns and historic sites. Tailor made extensions and day trips can be arranged on request.
If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965