The Taw-Torridge Estuary

About this route

This extensive estuary has a typical range of saltmarsh communities, with plants such as glasswort, sea aster and sea rush all present. However, it is the large areas of mudflats and sandbanks that are revealed at low tide which are the major interest. Together with the saltmarsh, these provide a rich source of food for overwintering and migratory waders. These include important numbers of curlew, golden plover and lapwing, with other species including redshank and oystercatcher also abundant. The total number of waders present at any one time can reach over 20,000.

The estuary is flanked by the Tarka Trail, from which a wide variety of habitats can be seen, including sand dunes, saltmarsh, woodland, grazing marsh and meadows.

Getting Around

On foot and bike: The South West Coast Path and the Tarka Trail run on either side of the estuary (at this point, the Tarka Trail is the route of the long-distance Devon Coast to Coast cycle route).

By train and bus: Barnstaple, at the head of the estuary, has a train station. There are good bus links to Barnstaple and Bideford, visit the Travel Devon website for the latest bus and train times.

Footpaths and cycle paths on both sides. Bird hide on the east bank. The Tarka Trail is wheelchair-friendly along the estuary.
Footpaths. Cycleways. Sections of wheelchair-friendly paths.

Interesting information

The Taw-Torridge Estuary is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a very important component of the North Devon Biosphere Reserve.

Photo of a lapwing
Lapwing Copyright Natural England - Julian Dowse

You can explore more in this area

Photo of the top of a waymarking post for the Coast Path and Tarka Trail