For information on all of Devon Wildlife Trust’s 43 nature reserves visit www.devonwildlifetrust.org
Bystock Nature Reserve
Area: 27 hectares
Status: Site of Special Scientific Interest
Bystock is near Exmouth. Most of this beautiful nature reserve lies within the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Site of Special Scientific Interest. It includes areas of wet and dry heath, grassland, scrub, woodland a number of small pools and a small man-made reservoir. It is a fantastic site to spot butterflies and dragonflies as well as a variety of heathland birds such as nightjars and stonechats.
As with many areas of heath, Bystock and the adjacent commons were used in the past as rough grazing, mostly by cattle. This came to an end in 1940 with military occupation of the whole area. In time, trees and scrub moved in, smothering most of the heathland. By the early 1990s there was very little left, but DWT has restored much of the area by scrub clearing in the winter and summer grazing with Exmoor ponies or cattle.
A network of paths allows access on foot to most parts of the reserve. The ground is quite rough in places and the paths often follow the tops of narrow raised banks to avoid boggy areas. Allow about three quarters of an hour for a leisurely stroll to the reservoir and back. Please stick to the paths, since the land on either side is uneven and can be very wet. Access to the northernmost field is easier with a gentle slope down from the car park and it is possible to view the main areas of heathland from here. Please take particular care when walking around the reservoir as tree roots on the path can be slippery an uneven. The nature reserve lies close to the East Devon Way.
How to get there
From Exeter take the A376 towards Exmouth, and at Clyst St George take the B3179 towards Woodbury. Follow the road through Woodbury and after you leave the village take the first turning on the right signposted Exmouth/Budleigh Salterton. Continue along this road for 1.1km (0.7 miles) until you reach the T-junction; turn right onto the B3180. After 1.3km (0.8 miles) look out for a right turn signposted to Exmouth. Do not take this turning! Instead, take the unsigned turning immediately on the left (easily missed). After 580m (0.4 miles) you will pass Wright’s Lane, continue for a further 270m (0.2 miles) and a gateway on the right leads into the reserve. There is a small grassy area where you can park.