Access to the site
The reserve is open to the public plus Devon Birds’ members, invited groups and members of academic institutions and other organisations for research purposes. There is no access to the reedbed in order to minimise disturbance to sensitive species and habitats. For the same reasons a strict no dog policy is in force. There are paths around the perimeter of the reserve offering circular walks of varying lengths. These are clearly signposted at all of the main entrance points and work is in hand to register them as permissive footpaths with Devon County Council. Access may be restricted at some times because of work that might be hazardous to visitors, such as drainage or tree-felling operations. When this is the case notices will be posted at the nature reserve and on the Devon Birds website.
The reserve can be reached either through the village of South Milton or through Thurlestone. The South Milton route leads to a National Trust car park on the south side of the reserve at South Milton Sands. This car park also overlooks the neighbouring South Huish Reserve. The Thurlestone route leads to a private car park on the north side of the reserve, which has an elevated view of Thurlestone Bay. The car parks are very busy in summer and on sunny days can be full well before noon.
The reserve can be accessed from either car park by short walk along the South West Coast Path and taking the track that runs past Beach Cottage and Sandbank at the northern end of the footbridge, (Point A on the map below). This track runs to a South West Water pumping station. Access is via a gate on the path above the pumping station.
Alternatively, the reserve can be reached from the public footpath that crosses it adjacent to South West Water’s sewage treatment plant (Point B) or via a newly installed entrance and bridge in Mill Lane (C).
All visitors are requested to keep to the paths around the boundary of the reserve, detailed in the figure below. A track runs the full length of the reserve on the north side from the South West Coast path (A) to Mill Lane (C), the inland limit of the reserve. Similarly, a track runs along the south side of the reserve but stops short of the South West Coast path.
Crossing the reedbed is possible at the South West Coast path (A) but there is no access to South side of the reserve, at the boardwalk about 750m inland (BW), at the public footpath by the STW (B) and at the eastern limit of the reserve adjacent to Mill Lane (C). In winter, the tracks can be very wet but do not flood unless water levels are exceptionally high
Red lines and crosses Access points and paths around perimeter of the reserve.
BW 100m boardwalk running north to south across the reedbed of the Lower Ley
A South West Coast Path footpath and footbridge just outside the western perimeter of the reserve
B Public footpath beside STW and across the reserve
C Mill Lane outside the eastern perimeter of the reserve