Dawlish Warren and Cliffs

Dawlish, Devon
Dawlish Warren Cliffs: Photo supplied by Craig Dixon, DCC


Dawlish Warren is a fascinating place. This sand spit at the mouth of the Exe Estuary is not only of geological interest but is also a nationally important habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals. It also has a protective effect on the estuary and helps to prevent localised flooding.

Dawlish Warren is a rare ‘double sand spit’ with two dune ridges that, in the recent past, were separated by a tidal inlet. The two ridges can still be seen, most clearly from the meadow known as Greenland Lake. The Warren is also unusual because it is an acidic sand spit and is not derived from shell material.

Compared to most sites of geological interest, Dawlish Warren is very young – a mere 7000 years old! It was created by post glacial sea level rises. As might be imagined, a sand spit is not the most stable of structures and its continued presence relies on a balance between erosion on the one hand and the arrival of sediments that travel along the coastline in a north-easterly direction (longshore drift). The wind has also had a significant effect on the Warren, with sand dunes visible in the exposed areas facing the open sea. The more sheltered area behind the spit has developed an area of intertidal sand and mud that provides feeding grounds for wintering wildfowl and waders. The Warren continues to evolve and in recent decades storms and higher tides have resulted in an overall loss of sediment.

Nearby to the south-west can be seen the impressive Dawlish Cliffs. They show some of the finest exposures of Permian sands in Britain and their red colouration is a striking feature of the coastline. Ancient winds piled up these sands upon what was a gravely desert floor and you are, in effect, looking at fossilised sand dunes. The modern effect of wind erosion on these cliffs has produced some striking patterns and forms in the exposed sand.

Nearby parking, shops and cafes. Cycling is not permitted within the reserve at Dawlish Warren, where dog restrictions also apply all year round.

Book Tickets



Road Directions

Leave the M5 Motorway at junction 30 and follow signs for Dawlish along the A379.

Public Transport Directions

Direct services from Exeter and Plymouth.

Regular bus services run to Dawlish Warren from Exeter.


Key Features

  • Outdoor Attraction

Parking & Transport

  • Parking (charge)

Opening Times

All year (1 Jan 2024 - 31 Dec 2024)

Follow us

What's Nearby

  1. Dawlish Warren Beach

    Dawlish Warren prides itself on being one of South Devon's top family beaches.…

    0.14 miles away
  2. Dawlish Warren Nature & Wildlife Reserve

    Dawlish Warren's most valuable ecological asset appears outside of the summer months -…

    0.14 miles away
  3. Cofton Holidays

    When looking for a venue for your event, you’ll want to know the facilities are first…

    1.18 miles away
  1. Exe Estuary

    The Exe Estuary is of international importance for wintering waders and wildfowl,…

    1.21 miles away
  2. Stuart Line Cruises

    Stuart Line Cruises is based in Exmouth, Devon and we are easy to find. We do have some…

    1.31 miles away
  3. Exmouth Beach

    Two miles of golden sand and fascinating rock pools

    1.49 miles away
  4. Dawlish Town Beach

    Within a short walk from the town centre, Dawlish Town Beach is ideal to escape the…

    1.75 miles away
  5. The East Devon Way

    The East Devon Way links together footpaths & quiet country lanes to create routes…

    1.82 miles away
  6. The Exe Valley Way

    The Exe Valley is a long distance route for walkers exploring the length of this…

    1.9 miles away
  7. Coryton Cove Beach

    Rock pools to explore, occasional sightings of dolphins, brightly coloured painted beach…

    2.23 miles away
  8. Holcombe Beach

    Holcombe Beach

    A small cove situated at the base of the cliffs between Teignmouth and Dawlish. A small…

    2.92 miles away
  9. The Riviera Line

    With regular trains seven days a week, the Riviera Line is great for all kinds of trips,…

    2.95 miles away
  10. Sandy Bay

    Sandy Bay in Exmouth is a half-mile long privately owned beach which is sheltered and…

    3.24 miles away
  11. World of Country Life

    World of Country Life is Devon’s GOLD award winning family day out, whatever the weather!

    3.5 miles away
  12. South West Coast Path

    South West Coast Path National Trail is 630 miles long, from Minehead in Somerset to…

    3.58 miles away
  13. River Exe Estuary

    The Exe Estuary is of international importance for wintering waders and wildfowl,…

    4.25 miles away
Previous Next

Search for What's Nearby

Product Type
Within miles