The Gallery Lodges are a great base if you just want to immerse yourselves in nature, hear the birds sing, watch butterflies in the grass, discover wild places for nature photography or search for bats at dusk.
This feature is on Braunton Countryside Centre which is a great place to get to know what natural Braunton has to discover and to provide ideas for both self led and guided walks, cycle rides, and online talks too. https://www.brauntoncountrysidecentre.org/ We also invite you to discover the nature right outside your lodge in the meadow and hedgerow.
Braunton is on the edge of a very unique natural area called the North Devon Biosphere, which might be overlooked at first glance. Just away from the bustle of the beaches are some very unusual habitats which have evolved from the sand dunes, the estuary and long farming history of the area.
Braunton Countryside Centre is located at the village carpark and open to visitors. They have some great resources online. Hopefully this year they will be back offering guided walks in the sand dunes to find rare orchids in June, or walks close by Braunton village to spot the Greater Horseshoe bat flying at dusk in summer. Find their programme on the online events calendar.
The website has ideas for self-led walks and bike rides too. https://www.brauntoncountrysidecentre.org/activities/walks-around-braunton/
This area is also a great place for bird watching, with migratory birds to the estuary being of particular interest. A large area of land called Horsey Island is now owned by Devon Wildlife Trust and you can walk on the coast path from Braunton (Vellator Quay) or cycle there for bird watching. Horsey Island is submerged at high tide with fast flowing tidal currents, so keep to the paths or toll raod! Follow the link for a suggested bike tour. https://www.komoot.com/tour/262602380 .
Closer to the lodges the manmade field drains line the roadside and are a great place to see sedge warblers. A number of farmers and smallholders along the roads in this area now sell produce direct: asparagus, potatoes, eggs and coastal plants to name a just a few. So you can enjoy eating local veg while you are here.
The lodges look towards another protected site called Swanpool Marsh with dragon flies and warblers – wellies recommended to explore here. The lodges’ field and hedgerow is also host to lots of garden birds as well as song thrush, willow warbler, black caps and woodpeckers.
If that wasn’t enough nature, the Braunton Burrows are also the habitat for Brown Banded Carder Bees – a rare bumblebee that love the sandy dunes for making burrows and can be spotted on its favourite flower, the blue Viper’s-bugloss, pictured below. https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/identify-a-bumblebee/
In the summer months, butterflies abound on the dunes too, and also in our meadows here at the lodges. You are welcome to see what you can discover. Use this hand guide from Butterfly conservation to help you: https://butterfly-conservation.org/butterflies/identify-a-butterfly