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RSPB Winter Avocet Cruises, Exe Estuary (2019/2020)


RSPB Winter Avocet Cruises, Exe Estuary (2019/2020)


The Exe Estuary is a special place and is internationally protected for wildlife, including the thousands of birds that flock here in the autumn and winter. Come and enjoy our popular RSPB birdwatching cruises along the stunning Exe Estuary in Devon.

Throughout the cruise, expert commentary is provided by knowledgeable RSPB volunteers who will keep a close eye out and help you spot the various species of waders and wildfowl that either flock to the Exe to overwinter or call the Exe their home.

The avocets have never failed to put on a show since our Avocet Cruises started in the late 1980s. They normally congregate between the Turf Inn and Topsham. Because the estuary narrows here, you can get incredibly close to these wonderful two-tone birds, which are the unmistakeable emblem of the RSPB. Black-tailed godwits are another spectacle on the Exe - these elegant visitors from Iceland are usually seen in a flock. There's just something about these birds that brightens up a day.

Cruises are tide dependent, so the boat can't wait for late arrivals.  These cruises are renowned for the variety of birds you’ll get close-up views of - including the stylish avocets.

Our cruises last approx. 1.5 hours and the money from these cruises is directly helping to save nature on the Exe and in the South West- Thank you for helping to give nature a home.

Prices:•    Adult RSPB member - £15.50•    Adult non-member - £18.50 •    Child RSPB Member - £8.50•    Child Non-member - £10.50

For group bookings (parties with 8 or more people) or any other enquiries, please contact us on 07511164793 (Manned Tuesday’s, Thursday’s and Friday’s, 10am-3pm. A/phone outside these hours.)

How to Get There: 

Trout's Boatyard is on the Exe and is situated between Topsham's Lighter Inn on The Quay and St Margaret's Church steps.

We highly recommend catching the train into Topsham Station to save on tricky parking and carbon emissions. The Topsham train station lies on the Exeter-Exmouth line and has links to Exeter St David’s and Exeter Central (connection to both north and south national train routes). One of the stops on the Exeter-Exmouth line is Digby & Sowton Station. This station lies on the outskirts of Exeter, near the M5 junction, and has limited free parking facilities onsite and nearby. Train Times and Tickets can be bought here.

If you do need to drive, then there is extremely limited street parking in Topsham. There are a few pay and display car parks but as Topsham is a quaint village and popular destination these often fill up very quickly. It can then take considerable time to find suitable parking and may be a fair distance from the boatyard.

If you fancy a short walk, then Darts Farm Shopping Village (home to RSPB Darts Farm Shop) is around 1 mile away and is walkable in around 20 mins it has ample parking along with a farm shop and restaurant. The walk can also link to our Bowling Green Marsh Hide if you have time to spare – see map below (calculated on a walking speed of 3mph). Information on our Bowling Green Marsh reserve can be found here.

Please allow time for all eventualities so that your walk from your car to Trout's Boatyard has you there at least 15 minutes before the boat sails. The skipper cannot delay the sailing for even five minutes as this would increase his risk of getting stuck in the mud at some point. We do not accept any responsibility for missed sailings.

Important Information

Booking is essential. Payment options are detailed below.

These cruises sell out quickly as there are only 40 spaces available per sailing.

All tickets are non-refundable unless the cruise has been cancelled due to extreme weather (sometimes cancelling on the day of departure). All bookings are accepted on this basis. In the event of such a cancellation, a full refund of the ticket price will be made, or the booking transferred to an alternative sailing by mutual agreement. Although every effort will be made to sail, the final decision will remain with the skipper of the boat. A recorded message detailing latest sailing and weather information will be available prior to every cruise on 07511164793.

We suggest that you bring extra warm (windproof) clothing and waterproofs - the Exe Estuary can be a very cold place even when the sun is shining in winter!

When booking please provide a valid phone number and e-mail as your booking confirmation will be sent via e-mail. We need a valid phone number (landline and mobile) in case we need to get hold of you urgently to update you with changes/cancellation. 

Our data protection statement is at the bottom of this section and within the booking process.

There are no refreshments facilities on board. Our cruises utilise the Topsham to Turf ferry with a maximum of 40-seated people. The seats are around the perimeter of the boat and some people like to sit in the middle, on the ‘lockers’. On this boat, as there is very little room for movement, there are no facilities for refreshments. 

There is no toilet for public use on board. There are public toilets on The Quay (There is a toilet for the skipper’s use, but it doesn’t meet health and safety requirements for the public).

Dogs are not permitted on board, apart from Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs.

Disabled access. Access from the jetty to/from the boat can present difficulties. Our boat owner/skipper welcomes passengers with restricted mobility but the safety of all our passengers is of paramount importance. Therefore, a degree of mobility (assisted if necessary) is required when boarding or moving around the boat. Wheelchair users must be accompanied by someone who can assist them in the event of an emergency. Please contact us on 07511164793 before booking if anyone within your party has a condition that could make boarding or moving around the boat difficult. We can then seek specific advice from the skipper.

These cruises are not suitable for children under 8. All children (8 and over) must be accompanied by a responsible adult 

Cruise dates and departure times from Trout's Boatyard, Topsham

Note: Prompt departure due to tide constraints - this means ALL sailings must depart on time.


November 2019

Sat 9th  10.35

Sun 10th 11.15

Thurs 14th 13.45

Fri 15th 14.15

Sat 23rd 9.40

Wed 27th 13.15

 December 2019

Sun 8th 9.35

Wed 11th 12.05

 January 2020

Wed 8th 10.45

Thurs 9th 11.35

Fri 10th 12.25

Sat 11th 13.15

Sun 12th 14.05

Wed 22nd 10.55

Thurs 23rd 11.50

Fri 24th 12.45

Sat 25th 13.30

Sun 26th 14.10

 February 2020

Thurs 6th 10.05

Fri 7th 11.10

Sat 8th 12.10

Sun 9th 13.05

Payment Options:

The best way to secure your place is to buy now through Eventbrite (they accept most card types). First select your date then follow the booking/payment procedure. If you would rather pay by cheque then please call 07511164793 (Manned Tuesday’s, Thursday’s and Friday’s, 10am-3pm. A/phone outside these hours). Or email c3dib29raW5ncyB8IHJzcGIgISBvcmcgISB1aw== and our team will book you in. You will then need to post your cheque (before the event) to:

The Avocet Cruise Team

Exe Estuary Reserve Office

Station Road





*please note that if calling or emailing us about a booking, spaces for that date may run out before we are able to deal with your booking request, your space is only confirmed when you have received a booking confirmation email.

IMPORTANT: We respect your privacy and will not sell your personal data to any third party.  

Any personal data you provide here is collected and used only for the purposes of booking this event. Your details will only be used by this event's RSPB co-ordinator and will not be shared with anyone else.

Image: Rosemary Despres (
Ticket Information Ticket Price
Adult member GBP 16
Adult non-member GBP 19
Child member (over 8 years) GBP 9
Child non-member (over 8 years) GBP 11

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Map W Trout and Son Ltd - Trouts' Boatyard, Ferry Rd, Topsham, United Kingdom
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