Old Sludge Beds

St Davids Hill, Exeter, Devon, EX4 4DA

Tel: 01392 279244

Sludge beds, Exeter


This reserve, part of the Exe Estuary SSSI, is sandwiched between the river Exe and the Exeter ship canal and just upstream from the M5 motorway flyover. Until the construction of new treatment works in 1969 the Sludge Beds were the final breakdown site for treated sewage. However when the new works were opened they were abandoned and gradually developed a cover of wetland vegetation. Today active management helps to maintain the area as reed beds that are home to a wide variety of wetland birds.

A path with boardwalks runs through the site; you can make a circular walk by returning along the canal bank - allow about 30 minutes in all. The paths are flat and the terrain fairly smooth although there are steps and ramps to negotiate and all the paths are prone to waterlogging.

Continuing along the canal towpath at the motorway end of the reserve provides excellent views of the upper parts of the estuary including the adjacent Exe Reed Beds DWT nature reserve.

Book Tickets

Guide Prices

Ticket TypeTicket Tariff
Free admissionFree

Note: Prices are a guide only and may change on a daily basis.



Road Directions

From the Countess Wear roundabout (on the Exeter-Topsham road) take the A379 towards Dawlish. After 600m (0.4 miles) you pass over the Exe, turn immediately left into the South West Water sewage treatment works entrance and park on the right in the University boathouse car park (SX 941 894).

Walk along the canal past the sewage works, turning immediately left at the far end. The reserve entrance lies on the right (SX 950 889).



  • Guide Dogs Permitted

Event Facilities

  • Free Entry

Group Travel

  • Out of Hours Visits

Key Features

  • In countryside
  • Outdoor Attraction

Specialist Features

  • Family Fun
  • Marketed towards children
  • Marketed towards families
  • Marketed towards senior citizens
  • Marketed towards student/youth

Opening Times

Old Sludge Beds (1 Jan 2024 - 31 Dec 2024)

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