Great views across reedbeds and the spectacular Exe Estuary. One of the largest tidal reedbeds in Devon and one of the best for birds.


Countess Wear

OS Map Reference

SX 957 885
A static map of Exe Reed Beds

Know before you go

25 hectares

Entry fee


Grazing animals


Walking trails

No access to the reedbed but public footpath runs alongside. The Exe Valley Trail off-road cycle and footpath runs close by.


Good views from the public right of way along the Exeter Ship Canal and from Topsham. No access to the reedbed but public footpath runs alongside.


No dogs permitted

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

All year round

About the reserve

The Exe Reed Beds nature reserve is home to an amazing array of birds and insects.

Situated in the attractive upper reaches of the Exe Estuary, this site offers wonderful views across the Exe Valley and river.

Contact us

Devon Wildlife Trust
Contact number: 01392 279244

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Protection Areas (SPA)

Location map

Avocet feeding in the water

Avocet. Photo, Mike Tuckett

During the winter its mudflats and creeks are important for wildfowl and waders, such as red-breasted merganser, teal and avocet.    

In summer Cetti's, sedge and reed warblers all use the reedbed to nest in. Their distinctive calls penetrate their dense surroundings. Swallows, house and sand martins can be seen buzzing over the tops of the reeds collecting insects.   

Starling murmuration

Starling murmuration. Photo, Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Starling spectacular

Most winters the Exe Reed Beds are the place to see large starling murmurations. The synchronised acrobatic flight displays of these birds each dusk and dawn are one of nature's spectacles. The best vantage point to watch is from the Topsham side of the River Exe or from the footpath that leads from our Old Sludge Beds nature reserve under the M5 motorway bridge.


Exe reed beds

Exploring the River Exe

Access to the Exe Reed Beds is limited to views across the nature reserve from the neighbouring Exeter Ship Canal towpath. The River Exe Wild Walk links this nature reserve with our nearby Old Sludge Beds Nature Reserve and Cricklepit Mill. It's a great way to begin to explore the wildlife riches of the River Exe.


Train lines and a cycle path running along both sides of the Exe Estuary, cafes and pubs and regular ferries make this area one of the most accessible and most popular parts of Devon.

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