The Dawlish Black Swans
22 February 2021
The unofficial emblem of our quintessential Devon coastal town, the Dawlish black swans have been members of the community for over 100 years. These beautiful birds sport an unmistakable red bill alongside their black plumage, and just as white swans, they live on the water. Seeing the black swans when you pay a visit to Dawlish is all part of the experience, so we wanted to share the history of when they were introduced, alongside where you can find them, plus a couple of other things you can do in Dawlish whilst you’re visiting.
Where did the Dawlish black swans come from?
Black swans breed mainly in southeast and southwest Australia, so finding them half-way across the world on English soil is highly unusual. Our black swans in Dawlish didn’t arrive on their own, as you may have expected, but were brought all the way from Australia as a gift for the town. Back in the early 1900s, a local Dawlish resident emigrated to New Zealand, and when he came back to visit in 1906, he brought a pair of black swans along with him.
No one really knows why he did this, but there’s some speculation around the topic that he wanted to give his hometown a unique gift, which would make Dawlish stand out from the crowd – and that it did!
Unfortunately, the very first black swans of Dawlish died sometime in between the two world wars. However, another pair was gifted to the town by Captain Pitman, a game war warden in Uganda, so the local community and visitors to the town could continue to enjoy these beautiful and unusual birds.
Where can you spot the black swans of Dawlish?
If you want to go in search of these beautiful black swans, all you need to do is head to The Brook, also known as Dawlish Water, and you’re sure to spot the resident swans and their fluffy cygnets (at the right time of year) paddling around and swimming in the stream. The Brook flows right through the middle of town and down to the coastline so you can’t really miss it.
Dawlish has a fab Webcam where you can see the Black Swans Live
Attractions in Dawlish
Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve
Aside from the black swans of Dawlish, this quaint seaside town offers lots of other wonderful attractions to explore, making for a lovely UK staycation. We highly recommend a visit to the Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve, an idyllic place for keen birdwatchers and general nature lovers. Running along the mouth of the Exe Estuary, during the winter months wading birds visit to feed, and throughout the year other species can be spotted including Brent Geese, or maybe even a Cirl Bunting. Children will also love exploring the freshwater pools, woodland and reedbeds that bless the area, or if you just like to don your walking boots and head out for the afternoon, you should definitely add this nature reserve to your list of planned ambles. To find out more about Dawlish Warren, check out our blog post about the area.
Dawlish Warren Beach
Backed by impressive cliffs, the sandy beach at Dawlish is the perfect spot for those searching for a touch of sun, sand and sea. Partly dog-friendly so your four-legged friends can enjoy the scenery too, it’s a lovely place to sunbathe and go for a dip in the water – when it’s warm enough! There are also water sports on offer for those looking for something more active, plus family-friendly activities and cafés for a spot of lunch.
If a beach holiday in South Devon sounds like your ideal break, here’s a guide to the best beaches.
Set amongst beautiful rolling countryside just south of Exeter, Powderham Castle is blessed with stunning gardens to explore, alongside a deer park, an old plantation and of course the beautiful building itself, which guests can enjoy a tour of. Regular events are also held at the estate, from retro festivals and comedy events through to muddy dog challenges. What’s more, Powderham Castle is just an eight-minute drive from our holiday park, so it makes for a perfect afternoon out.
The Exe Valley Way
If you’re a keen walker who likes to put the miles in, you’ll love the Exe Valley Way. A long walk of almost 50 miles, you can make a week of it and enjoy the country lanes, woodland and more that stretches from the South West Coast Path National Trail on the Exe Estuary to the high land of Exmoor National Park.
If a break in South Devon sounds like your kind of escape, be sure to check out our range of accommodation at the park. From luxury lodges and static caravans through to camping and cottages, we’ve got every level of comfort you could need during a South Devon staycation.
Some of your kind words...
A brilliant stay as always. We stayed in a cottage this time which was beautiful and very well equipped. Lots of lovely little touches with a welcome hamper and lots of board games. Hubbie was well impressed with the huge TV too. Loved the courtyard and we were lucky enough to have the weather to BBQ 2 of the days. All the staff from reception to the shop to the entertainment were friendly and very accommodating of both my girls. Used the chippy which has recently changed hands and the food was still great. There is lots to do, loved the swimming, the zip wire, the park and walk in the woods and around the fishing lake. Have to be honest though we missed the caravan...... will definitely be back, hopefully in the Fernworthy van with the hot tub.
Had an amazing weeks holiday. The park was immaculate, the outdoor pool was spotless and the cleaning blocks were cleaned regularly. All the staff were very helpful and the shop on site was reasonably priced. We went with two kids (aged 6 and 7) and our dog, the kids were never bored and had an amazing holiday. We will definitely be returning next year!
My family and I stayed for 5 nights in July, aged between 13 and 40 and we all had a brilliant family stay. The teenagers loved the outdoor pool and the woods and we all loved the donkeys. I’ve been coming here since I was a child and it’s still got a lovely relaxing atmosphere and has all the facilities you could want for a camping holiday. I must say the fish and chip shop is the best we have ever had at a holiday park, reasonable prices and good sized portions. We have booked to come back again on 25th August for a week and can’t wait!
I visited when my relatives came over from Canada and fell in love. I was lucky enough to stay for a week last August for my sons 2nd birthday. It has got to be one of my favourite places to go. Absolutely beautiful, quiet, good facilities, lovely restaurants. The staff are outstanding. I can't wait to come back again this year!
Stayed in campervan for a weekend. Great campsite good location, plenty of things for all to do. Great fishing lakes all in a short walk through the woodland to the lovely Dawlish Warren and Dawlish. Couldn't fault.
Highbridge, United Kingdom
We have had a wonderful experience, the site is very clean, ALL the staff were friendly and helpful especially the bar supervisor, entertainment was second to none, we'll 100% return...
The Warren Family
I just want to say how impressed my fellow Motorhomers and Caravaners were with the welcome and service we received during our stay. Staff in the office were polite and helpful at all times. Scott the restaurant manager was most accommodating when I enquired about reserving space for 25 to 30 of us for lunch after a walk. The service in the restaurant was speedy the food hot and varied. We were very pleased with the standards. Staff in the restaurant were cheerful and polite and helped make our meal most enjoyable. We had such a good time that we will be returning again next year for our Xmas Rally.
The best holiday park we've been to in our motorhome. Our children aged 2 and 4 loved it. Great facilities, entertainment and activities in one of the best parts of Devon!
Delicious fish and chips, friendly and helpful staff and delightful woodland.
Suze - Cornwall
Good location and dog walking, we'll be back and it can't come quick enough.
David - Portsmouth.
Loved the Zumba class! Can't wait to come back!
Elise - Exeter.
A* facilities, always very clean. The pool and food offer great value for money!
Stayed in Honeysuckle Cottage, stunning views over the Exe Estuary.. fantastic place for a family holiday
Ian - Australia.
My little girls aged 2,3 and 5 loved the entertainment.. all they can remember is fun, fun and more fun!
Anonymous - Cheshire.
Quiet and relaxing in a stunning location.. Can't wait to return
Ethan R, Burnham-on-Sea
We usually camp 3 times a year and hire a caravan after the Christmas break at Cofton, and will continue to do so. We thoroughly recommend staying there. Great for families or just the 2 of you.
Jilly B, Cheltenham
Go for swimming and food at this fabulous holiday camp... facilities A-star so clean and just great value for money would defo use over and over again which I do.... I'm a regular visitor. Dip and dine always good option as the food and snacks are fantastic in the bar cafe area near swimming pool!
Excellent toilet block and lovely hot showers. The on site pub was spot on with really friendly staff..
Joan L, Bromsgrove
The superbly equipped Woodside Cottage was beautifully clean with a fantastic Hot Tub. Waking up to horses and cows in the rear field.. stunning!
So friendly and clean, it’s a home from home and we couldn’t go a year with a visit!
Bernice Procter, Swindon
I always pay a visit to Amelia's Pantry, you can just Relax, Indulge and Enjoy!
‘Wonderful facilities, especially the swimming pools! In a lovely setting, for us it is simply the best campsite we have found.’
Margaret Hayes, Leeds
We have been coming to Cofton since 2009 and have stayed at least 12 times. We love everything about Cofton: the location and scenery in and around the park, the quality and cleanliness of accommodation, the friendly welcoming atmosphere; Everything about Cofton is great!
Ethan Robinson, Somerset
‘Dog walks, cycling, lovely country pubs… It suits our every need’
Kay Hancock, Bristol