E. Quayside to the Exe Estuary, Exeter

E. Quayside to the Exe Estuary, Exeter

River Exe and Exeter Canal

Explore Exeter Canal (also called Exeter Ship Canal) which was one of the first canals to be built in the UK and runs alongside the River Exe until it meets the Exe Estuary.


Exe Estuary Trail

The Exe Estuary Trail runs around the edge of the Exe Estuary between Exeter and the South Devon/East Devon coast. Roughly 18 miles (8 miles Exeter to Starcross and its foot ferry. 10 miles from Exmouth to Exeter via Topsham. Measured using Ordnance Survey mapping app). Cycle, walk or run a section or all of the trail.

Hire bikes from Saddles & Paddles on Exeter's Historic Quayside.


Exe Valley Way

The Exe Valley Way is over 50 miles long and follows the River Exe/Exe Valley from Starcross all the way up to Exmoor. See our sister website Holiday in Exmoor for more information.

From Exeter, head south along the Exe Estuary or north into Mid Devon.


Exe Estuary Nature Reserves

Nature Reserves we'd recommend visiting include the RSPBs Exminster and Powderham Marshes and Bowling Green Marshes at the top end of the estuary.

Down by the mouth, explore Exmouth Local Nature Reserve and the superb Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve.



Topsham is the historic port of Exeter. Located on the east side of the Exe Estuary where the River Exe meets the estuary, the setting is stunning. It's a beautiful, well-heeled waterside town packed with excellent shops, pubs and restaurants.

The Exe Estuary Trail runs through Topsham.

Foot ferries cross between Topsham and Topsham Lock/Exminster (the Topsham Ferry) and Turf Locks (the Topsham to Turf Ferry).


Pubs and bars

There are plenty from which to choose. Try The Lighter Inn, The Salutation Inn, The Globe Inn and The Passage House Inn in Topsham.

The Turf Hotel is on the Exe Estuary and Double Locks on Exeter Canal.



The Pig & Pallet, The Galley Restaurant and L'estuaire Restaurant are all in Topsham.

There's also the award-winning Rockfish in Exmouth.

For excellent take away fish and chips, try The Fish Shed at Darts Farm.



Darts Farm is wonderful.


Powderham Castle

Powderham is located on the west bank of the River Exe Estuary between, roughly speaking, the Turf Hotel and Starcross. Top family attraction. Visit the castle, its gardens and deer park. The walled garden with its play area and pets corner is great for kids.


Ferries and boats

If possible, also explore the estuary by boat. Try the River Exe Cruise. The trip takes between 1-2 hours and is supplied by Stuart Line Cruises.

A ferry runs between Starcross and Exmouth. Other ferries cross the water further up the estuary at Topsham. For example, a ferry runs from Ferry Road in Topsham across to Topsham Lock. Another runs from Topsham across to The Turf pub.



Try canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding on the Exe.

Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre. Located on Exeter Quay, offers a huge range of activities including watersports such as kayaking, canoeing, sailing, windsurfing and power-boating. Adults, kids and family activities.

AS Watersports. Kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding are among the activities on offer. Again, located on Exeter Quay.

Saddles & Paddles. Another outdoor activity supplier based on Exeter Quay. Hire kayaks and canoes. Note that this is a great place from which to hire bikes to ride the Exe Estuary Trail.

Head to the coast for windsurfing, kite surfing and boat trips.

EXE Adventures (Exe Estuary). Kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddle boarding among activities available on the Exe Estuary and South Devon beaches around Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth.

ExeWake Watersports (Exmouth). South Devon 'watersports school specialising in wakeboarding, waterskiing and inflatable rides'.


Dawlish Warren and Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve

Dawlish Warren is a major Devon seaside resort. A huge low tide sand beach runs north east of Dawlish Warren to the mouth of the Exe Estuary. The beach backs onto Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve.



Exmouth is the gateway town to the west section of East Devon. It lines the East Devon coast and the mouth of the Exe Estuary. Dawlish Warren is just across the water.


Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Dorset and East Devon Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site is often referred to as the Jurassic Coast. In East Devon, it runs from Exmouth to the Dorset border by Lyme Regis.



Exmouth Beach is a huge, long beach running east of the mouth of the Exe Estuary. Sandy Bay Beach is further west and then you come to the glorious pebble beach at Budleigh Salterton.

Dawlish Warren Beach is situated west of the mouth of the Exe Estuary. Red Rock Beach is south of Dawlish Warren. Beyond that are Dawlish Beach and Coryton's Cove. See one of our sister sites, Love South Devon, for a list of beaches.