Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve

Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve

Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve is owned by the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust and managed by the Field Studies Council (FSC).

Herbert Whitley purchased Slapton Ley's 211 hectares in 1917 to save the land from development and to conserve a rare wetland habitat – a large freshwater lake surrounded by marshes and reedbeds. A narrow shingle bar separates Slapton Ley from Start Bay and Slapton Sands.

The Lower Ley is mostly open water fringed by reedbeds. The Higher Ley consists largely of rich fen and willow carr vegetation. These habitats support a very diverse flora and fauna. Slapton Ley is the only British locality for the vascular plant strapwort, and boasts one of the largest English populations of Cetti's warbler. There are 2,000 species of fungi here, 29 of which have been described as new to science. Slapton Ley is also an important staging post for wintering and passage birds.

The Field Studies Council established Slapton Ley Field Centre as an 'outdoor laboratory' in 1959. More research has probably been carried out at Slapton than on any other National Nature Reserve in Britain. Important elements of this work are investigations into the physical processes occurring outside the reserve that are responsible for changes taking place in the aquatic environment of the two Leys.

Slapton Ley Field Centre is a base for students, and holds courses and guided walks for people interested in the countryside. For further information on what's on at Slapton Ley Field Centre, or for a copy of the newsletter, visit

For more information, email [email protected] or telephone 01548 580466.