A magical, secretive mix of woodland, coastline and butterfly-filled meadows - all in a single stream valley.

Few people forget their first visit to Marsland nature reserve.


At 212 hectares it's the biggest of our reserves. But even at this size it retains a feeling of intimacy and an air of secrecy. Marsland is tucked away along the length of a steep-sided stream valley which straddles the Devon-Cornwall border.


Triumph in the face of decline

At the valley's head are a series of large open woodland glades. In spring and early summer it's here that two rare UK butterflies, small pearl bordered and pearl bordered fritillaries, take to the wing. 


Careful management of the reserve has seen their numbers increase in the last decade - a triumph of planning and practical work in the face of declines in the numbers of these butterflies almost everywhere else. In all 34 species of butterfly have been recorded at Marsland.Dormouse in nest tube by A Taylor


Further down Marsland Valley a network of paths wind though a green canopy of woodland, dominated by oak, ash, holly, hazel and sycamore. Here a good range of woodland birds lives beside a thriving population of dormice.


One of the UK's wildest coastlines


Woodland gives way to open coastal heath with its mix of grasses, heather and gorse. The sounds and smell of the sea accompany some spectacular views of part of one of the UK's wildest coastlines. 


The South West Coast Path and the cliff tops beyond signal the edge of this wonderful nature reserve.  


Marsland's position on the Coast Path make it a great destination for walkers to explore. Use Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 126 to plan your visit. 


Devon Wildlife Trust's Marsland nature reserve has been supported by Viridor Credits Environmental Company.



Be aware

The sea cliffs at Marsland Mouth are unstable and should not be climbed.


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Species and habitats

Grassland, Heathland
Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Otter

Nearby nature reserves

Marsland Valley
1 miles - Cornwall Wildlife Trust
Lower Lewdon
5 miles - Cornwall Wildlife Trust
6 miles - Devon Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Nr Bude
EX23 9PQ
Map reference
SS 230 173
Great for...
Best time to visit
Mar - Oct
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
212.00 hectares
Due to its sensitive wildlife a permit is required to access some parts of the reserve. However, visitors do not need a permit to use the public right of way through the reserve. The terrain can be muddy in parts.
Walking information
Please keep to the public rights of way. Paths can be muddy in parts.
Limited parking on the tract on the right, as SS 217 169. Parking elsewhere is not possible without obstructing access.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Devon Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01392 279244


Factsheets and guides for your visit