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Slapton Ley

Keeping wild places wild

Slapton Ley, on the South Devon coast, is a large freshwater lake separated from the sea by a narrow shingle bar.

The ley is fringed by reedbeds and willow, forming part of a national nature reserve that contains a variety of habitats.

Protecting rare plants

Slapton Ley supports a diverse range of plants, animals and fungi. In fact, Slapton is an essential stronghold for the small, secretive Cetti’s warbler and is home to more than 2,000 recorded species of fungi.

Slapton Ley is also the only remaining site in the UK where strapwort – a small, maritime plant – can still be found naturally. Click below to find out more about our work to establish new populations of strapwort to ensure that the species survives:

Strapwort Conservation

A rich history

The conservation of wild places is a goal that began back in 1921, when Paignton Zoo’s founder Herbert Whitley purchased Slapton Ley to save it from the threat of development. He believed – as we do today – that habitats should be conserved to protect the species that call them home, as well as the people who gain so much from spending time in nature.

Although the threat of development has long passed, pressures on the lake and the surrounding habitats persist. Recent years have seen extensive storm damage caused to the fragile shingle bar that separates the ley from the sea. We are working with the Field Studies Council, which manages Slapton day-to-day, to ensure that the ley remains intact and that high concentrations of sea water don’t upset the delicate balance of the ley’s freshwater habitats.

Discover Slapton

Slapton Ley is the largest natural lake in south-west England, and is around 1.5 miles long.

Slapton Ley is situated between the villages of Torcross and Strete.

Directions: A379, Kingsbridge TQ7 2TL