The River Axe flows through
- Credit: Archant
The River Axe flows for 22 miles through the Dorset, Somerset and Devon countryside. Photographer Terry Ife took the chance to explore the meandering watercourse.
The River Axe rises near Beaminster, in Dorset, and flows out to sea at Axmouth, passing close to Axminster on its way.
It is fed by various streams along its route and by the larger tributaries of the rivers Yarty and the Coly.
Meandering through improved dairy pasture, for 13km of its length, it forms a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), most of which is in the Devon section, running down to the tidal limit near Colyford.
The SSSI supports diverse aquatic and marginal flora, including in the higher reaches, some plant types which are usually confined to sandstone catchments in Scotland.
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In the lower reaches, this gives way to a community more typical of rivers flowing slowly over clay.
For those interested in seeing what the river has to offer, there are a number of vantage points where walkers can observe the water as it flows by, with public paths going close to the watercourse at various points along its route.
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As the river gets closer to the sea, so it flows into Seaton Wetlands, which is made up of four main sites - Seaton Marshes, Black Hole Marsh, Colyford Common and Stafford Marsh.
There are signposted trails at the Wetlands, so it is a perfect area for a peaceful stroll in the fresh air and it offers the chance to enjoy the wide range of wildlife from the five hides on the site.
Seaton Marshes is a freshwater grazing marsh, with scrapes, ditches and ponds that attract considerable wildlife interest, from Wildfowl and Wading Birds in the winter to dragonflies and butterflies in the summer.
Black Hole Marsh offers a man-made saline lagoon on what was previously a drained agricultural field, with little wildlife interest. It attracts breeding oystercatchers and is now well populated with crustaceans and molluscs that support a wide range of wildfowl and waders.
Colyford Common is regularly flooded by high tides, so this salt-marsh has very unusual flora and fauna, supporting many locally rare and nationally important species.
At Stafford Marsh, there is the Discovery Hut, pond shelter, a picnic area and various other facilities.
The Seaton Wetlands area is run by East Devon District Council and you can get more information by contacting the Countryside team or visiting www.eastdevon.gov.uk