Walk - Plymouth to River Yealm

15.0 miles (24.2 km)

Plymouth Wembury Point

Moderate - Easy to moderate

The first part of this journey follows the Waterfront Walkway along some of the vibrant, historic streets of the largest city on the South West Coast Path. The Path offers fantastic views over Plymouth Sound and has many extraordinary artistic features to look out for, all celebrating the rich history of this important city.

There is so much to see here (including a knitted breakfast, a porthole wall, a rhino and gold bullion) that it is not really possible to mention it all. You may like to get a copy of the guide to the Waterfront Walkway in advance, and perhaps also a copy of the Nautical Telegraph Code Book to help decode the messages set in pavements around the city!

From the blue pillar on Jennycliff, which marks the end of the Waterfront Walkway Path, the urban landscape is left behind as the Path enters part of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. After Andurn Point the Path offers easy walking close to the sea, past the old naval gunnery school of HMS Cambridge and on to Wembury with its incredibly diverse plant and animal life and fantastic views of the Great Mew Stone.

Plymouth City Council have produced a guide to the walk that can be downloaded from here.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Mariners Guest House

James & Marie offer a warm welcome. Situated close to Plymouth’s historic Hoe, we have just been awarded Gold for our green tourism which we are proud of.

Number One

Number One is a friendly, family owned B&B near Plymouth Hoe with 12 en-suite rooms, private parking & free WiFi. Ideally located for all main attractions and amenities

Edgcumbe Guesthouse

Just yards from the seafront this top quality guest house offers gorgeous en suite rooms, free wifi,hairdryers,generous beverage trays.

Amplitude - Self Catering

Spacious 3 bed self-catering city centre apartment, a few yards from The Hoe Promenade sea front and a great starting point for Devon & Cornwall coastal paths.

Drakes View

Pop-up site close to Bovisand beach. No facilities.

Coombe House B&B

Beautifully renovated farmhouse, stunning sea views, ample carparking, 15 mins from the Path, 5 mins from Kingsand/Cawsand offering 4 pubs for dinner. Highly recommended on Trip Advisor.

Thorn House B&B

Stay at this stunning riverside property with double / twin rooms with spectacular views. Breakfast provied. Internationally recognized gardens open during your stay.
You'll be spoilt for choice for where to eat and drink along the Path. With lots of local seasonal food on offer, fresh from the farm, field and waters. Try our local ales, ciders, wines and spirits, increasing in variety by the year, as you sit in a cosy pub, fine dining restaurant or chilled café on the beach. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.


Zero Waste shop selling loose organic foods, snacks, vegan chocolate & sweets, homewares and locally made goods. Bring your own container or use one of ours!

Ocean Studios

Ocean Studios is Real Ideas’ hub of creative energy, with a stunning exhibition and café space, located in the stunning Royal William Yard, a stones' throw from the SWCP.


A family run bakery and coffee shop specialising in Vegan and Gluten Free cakes and a range of local groceries. Open Mon - Fri 0830-1500, Sat 0830-1300

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Plymouth Coastal Observatory

CoastSnap Southwest is a community science participation project which encourages members of the public to get involved in the monitoring of our coastline.

South West SUP

Stand up paddleboard lessons, hire and journeys from our organic café space at Firestone Arch, Royal William Yard.

Market Hall

The Market Hall is a world-class space for digital innovation and learning situated in the heart of Devonport, a space to work, learn, meet, eat, create… and have fun!

Interactive Elevation


  • Views of Drake’s Island. Records show that in 1135 the island was known as St Michael’s and had a small chapel on it. The chapel was later dedicated to St Nicholas and the island took the same name until it changed again to Drake’s Island after Sir Francis Drake who was based in Plymouth. A small fort was built here in the 16th century to help protect Plymouth’s dockyard.
  • The Royal William Yard: designed by the engineer Sir John Rennie for King William IV, whose statue stands at the entrance. The yard was used to supply the Navy with biscuit, beef and beer and here you will find the recipe for Ship’s Biscuit and a map of the cuts of beef commemorated in marble.
  • In 2013 the Coast Path was extended through the Royal William Yard and Devil's Point Park. The   Yard is steeped in history and is considered to be one of the most important groups of historic military buildings in Britain.The site has been sympathetically restored and transformed into an exciting mixed-use development of apartments, offices, restaurants, and retail space with a public marina at its heart. Cafes, food, shops history and culture are all on offer at this thriving visitor location which is now a key staging post on the South West Coast Path following the installation of a contemporary staircase in 2013 that links the yard to Western King for the very first time. The staircase provides a spectacular viewing platform where you’ll be able to take in amazing views of the Yard, the River Tamar and beyond!
  • Stonehouse and the Georgian terraces of Durnford Street: here you will find the Sherlock Holmes pavement to mark the fact that Arthur Conan Doyle worked in one of these buildings when he was a young doctor. Perhaps trips to Dartmoor provided inspiration for his famous book The Hound of the Baskervilles.
  • Views from the Royal Navy Millennium Wall, with its models of some of the Navy’s submarines and ships.
  • The Hoe and Smeaton’s Tower. Completed in 1759, the tower was positioned on the Eddystone Reef and had a significant influence on lighthouse design. When replaced by James Douglass’ lighthouse, it was dismantled stone by stone and placed in a celebratory position on the Hoe. The foundations and stub were so difficult to remove that they remain out at sea next to the current tower.
  • The Royal Citadel: built of local limestone in the 1660s on the site of previous defences, it is still used by the military today. Guided tours are available in the summer. For details contact the Tourist Information Centre.
  • Exploring the cobbled streets of the Barbican and Sutton Harbour.
  • The Green Man and the shrine to St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers, around Cattewater.
  • Mount Batten Artillery Tower: built in the 1650s, it guards the southern approach to the harbour and was actually used in WWII.
  • Fort Bovisand and harbour: commanding fantastic views over Plymouth Sound, the fort was one of many 19th century defences built around the Plymouth area to guard against French attack.
  • It has been a very successful diving centre since the 1970s.
  • Views of the nesting seabirds on the Great Mew Stone: dramatically illustrated by J.M.W. Turner in 1816, this island of jagged rocks is named after the many gulls (or mews) who nest here. Read more about Turner’s drawing at the Tate website.
  • Looking ahead to see the tower of the church of the Saxon saint St Werburgh, indicating that the end of the walk is not far off.
  • Searching for marine life in the rock pools of Wembury Beach and watching the surfers.
  • The final stretch to Warren Point over high paths, with lovely views of the River Yealm, before catching the ferry across to Noss Mayo or Newton Ferrers.

Shorter option

You may like to just follow the Waterfront Walkway, rather than continue to Wembury (10 miles, 16 km). You could shorten part of the Plymouth section by taking the ferry from the Mayflower Steps to Mount Batten.

Longer option

Take the short ferry crossing to the villages of Noss Mayo or Newton Ferrers where there is a range of pubs and accommodation and end your journey there.

Public transport

Plymouth is easily reached as it has a mainline train station and a large bus station serving much of Devon and Cornwall and regular buses to Wembury. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the train station and bus stop symbols, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

You can shorten the route by catching the ferry (all year) from near the Mayflower Steps in Sutton Harbour to Mountbatten, which misses out the 5 mile (8 km) walk round Cattewater.

At the end of the walk you have need to catch seasonal ferry across the River Yealm. For latest times and dates of the ferries check our Estuaries and ferries page.



There are many car parks throughout Plymouth (Postcode for Sat Navs: PL1 3RJ). After Jennycliff, parking is available at Bovisand Bay, Crownhill Bay and Wembury.


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