River Otter, East Devon
Though most of its course is through East Devon, the River Otter actually rises near the tiny hamlet of Otterford in Somerset, where a stream feeds the lakes at the Otterhead Lakes nature reserve. From there it flows through the Blackdown Hills to East Devon, passing through quiet villages to Honiton and on to Budleigh Salterton where it enters the English Channel via the Otter Estuary.
The Otter Estuary is a 57 acre nature reserve awarded SSSI interest, mostly of tidal mudflats and salt marsh. The reserve isn’t open to the public but there are two viewing platforms where twitchers can watch the many species of birdlife that nest or feed there, among them redshank, sandpier, plover, curlew, snipe, water rail, wigeon, teal, shelduck and liitle grebe.
The River Otter is well known for its trout fishing and for being the only river in England where there’s a population of wild beaver. The first thought a lot of people have is that beavers living on the river is detrimental to the fish population, but not so – it’s all about the balance of nature and so far so good.
There are many places worth visiting along the course of the River Otter, the most popular being Otterhead Lakes, the town of Honiton (particularly on market days), Ottery St Mary, famous for its annual Pixie Day and Tar Barrels event, and Otterton Mill. Also worth a jaunt is Budleigh Salterton near where the River Otter joins the sea on the World Heritage Site Jurassic Coast; this quiet town slopes gently down to a pebble beach backed with towering red sandstone cliffs. The effect is quite dramatic, the air is of timeless charm.
All information correct at the time of writing