Walk - Royal William Yard & Devil’s Point

1.0 miles (1.6 km)

Admiralty Road free car park, PL1 3RS Admiralty Road free car park

Easy - Relatively flat apart from one climb down the staircase of approx 50 steps, which links the park to the Royal William Yard.

Descend the stunning new steps from Devil's Point Park into the Yard and enjoy the changes made to this home of Plymouth's naval history. A gentle walk with views across Plymouth Sound. Stand where centuries of families waved goodbye to their loved ones as they ventured out onto the oceans as part of our Royal Navy.

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.

Edgcumbe Guesthouse

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

The Duke of Cornwall Hotel

A stunning hotel set in the heart of Britain's Ocean City with 72 individually styled bedrooms, a cosy Lounge and fine dining restaurant.

Leonardo Hotel

The Leonardo Hotel Plymouth is a modern city hotel, located a five-minute walk from Plymouth’s historic harbour and close to cafes and restaurants. Hotel bar with food menu available.

Maker Camp

Escape at Maker Heights. 'Wild' camping campsite, popular cafe and arts & crafts studios on site.10 mins walk from beach, village/pub. Part of Rame Conservation Trust.

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.

Drakes View

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

Wringford Cottages

We are a family run, dog friendly, holiday cottage complex set it 3 acres with a heated indoor swimming pool, tennis court and 6 cottages.

Wembury Bay Bed and Breakfast

10 minutes walk from Wembury Beach. Choice of 3 rooms, a twin en suite, a twin room or double. Rooms are fitted with TV's and Tea/coffee facilities. Wi Fi, washing/drying available, packed lunches on request. Pub close by.

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.

Domea FavourChocolate

Award winning bespoke handmade made chocolate, truffles & baked goods

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.

The V.O.T

Just a stone’s throw from the Royal William Yard, The V.O.T perfectly combines old with new, fusing together historical structure and contemporary design. Serving tapas, snacks, drinks & Coffee. Holiday cottage accommodation next door.

Cliff Top Cafe

Family friendly cafe open 10 - 4 daily - stunning views of Whitsand Bay.

The Old Mill Cafe

Located right on Wembury beach. A National Trust building run by sisters Jemma and Jennifer. We provide light refreshments, locally roasted organic coffee, delicious pasties from local supplier and homemade sandwiches and soup to have in or takeaway.

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.

Cremyll Ferry - Operated by Plymouth Boat Trips

Loved for centuries by all who have travelled on her, the historic Cremyll Ferry provides a gateway to discover this beautiful part of the South West.

Hannah Wisdom Textiles

Textile artist creating original works by sewing on old sea charts of the South West Coast. Designs are also printed across a range of home and gift items.

Plymouth Tourist Information Centre

Drop in to find all the information you need to enjoy Plymouth's Ocean City experience, including where to visit, stay and eat and drink

Mount Batten Watersports and Activities Centre

The Mount Batten Watersports and Activities Centre is located right on the South West Coast Path on the beautiful Mount Batten peninsula.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

Park in the car park at the end of Admiralty Road. 

Behind the car park can be seen the Admiralty cottages.

  1. Facing the sea at Firestone Bay turn right and follow the South West Coast Path past the Western King Battery to Devil’s Point.

The walk around the headland of Devil's Point brings you out at an ancient defensive point. A small chapel used to stand at the end of the Stonehouse peninsula and if you have walked through Mount Edgcumbe Country Park you may have seen parts of the old building as it was re-erected as an eighteenth century folly, and made to look like an ecclesiastical ruin.

Devil’s Point, also known as Western Kings Point, is a public park and has a wealth of historical features. For centuries it has been used by friends and family to wave goodbye or welcome home to the crews of Royal Navy warships as they manoeuvre the narrow waters adjacent to Devil's Point.

As you walk from the car park towards Devil's Point on the right is a bronze plaque commemorating the departure of HMS Beagle from nearby Barn Pool.  This voyage was that which inspired Charles Darwin to publish his theory of evolution.

Off the end of Devils’ Point all the water flowing in and out of the massive Tamar estuary gets squeezed through a very narrow and deep channel with depths of over 40m. Underwater the land falls away as a steep vertical underwater limestone cliff with many caves, crevices, scree slopes and ledges. This supports some particularly interesting wildlife such as the delicate feather star Antedon bifida, which makes a great spot for experienced divers.

  1. As you get towards the end of the park, take the right hand fork that leads up to the staircase that enables walkers to pass through the Yard's defensive wall and descend into the yard.  

From the top of the staircase you are rewarded with stunning views.

The Royal William Yard was originally intended to be the Royal George Victualling Yard, the name was changed on account of 67-year-old King George IV being struck down with alcoholic cirrhosis and dropsy in 1830, five years before the yard had been completed. Locally it created a happy situation as his brother who succeeded him, as William IV, was a popular figure, having spent much of his early naval career in Devonport. The complex was designed by the engineer John Rennie, who was knighted in 1831 and who, with his brother George, completed their father’s work on the construction of the Plymouth Breakwater (they also completed the design drawn up by Rennie senior for London Bridge). Created to keep the Royal Navy fed and watered, the complex had its own brewery, bakery and slaughterhouse. Since the Royal Navy left the site in 1992, the yard has been carefully redeveloped to create an award winning historic and iconic setting for contemporary restaurants, galleries, apartments and retail businesses.

  1. It's worth taking take time to explore the buildings of Royal William Yard. The obvious route is to follow the waters edge, but you can also go down the main thoroughfare to the main gate.

Look out for the Brewhouse, converted to 78 apartments, with ground floor space for exhibitions and cafés. Built in 1834, it was never actually equipped as a brewhouse, as new technology allowed fresh water to be carried at sea, thus eliminating the need for beer rations. It stood empty until 1885, but since then was used as a repair workshop, rum store and a Naval torpedo workshop.

Bullocks were slaughtered at the Slaughterhouse and the meat salted into wooden barrels. The building was used for this for 26 years from 1859. Next to it, the Bakery was originally equipped as a biscuit and bread factory in 1834. It was used for its original purpose until 1925. Now it houses 86 apartments, commercial and office space.

The paddocks, which acted as receiving fields for the cattle which were unwittingly awaiting their demise inside the yard, were originally behind The Butcher’s Arms. Anywhere from 70-80 cattle could be slaughtered at a time and the number of beasts passing by here was often impressive. The pub provided a welcome break for the men performing this bloody work.

  1. You can leave the yard either by passing through the main gates, or stay by the waters edge using the suspended walkway.

Either way you will arrive at a large marble block standing on an old millstone which commemorates two staples of the Navy's diet, beef and ship’s biscuit (which took the place of bread).  Before the days of tin-lined chests, ship biscuits were packed in canvas or cloth bags - and quickly got infested with weevils. The beef was prepared according to the butcher’s map ‘the Cuts of Beef’ carved into the block, whilst on the reverse side is the recipe for ship’s biscuits.

  1. On the far side of the roundabout cross the road and walk up Royal William Road to Durnford Street

On the wall of No. 156 Durnford Street is a plaque proclaiming: “Here reputedly lived Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy, Bart, GCB. Born 1769, Captain of the Fleet at Trafalgar 1805 and witness to Nelson’s immortal dying words aboard HMS Victory ‘Kiss me Hardy’. First Sea Lord 1830-34 Governor Greenwich Hospital 1834 Died 1839.”

Whether he said ‘Kiss Me’ or ‘Kismet’ (fate) we shall never know, neither is it particularly clear whether Hardy actually lived here, but it is thought that his mother might have and that he would certainly have known the building.

Another famous former resident of Durnford Street was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.

  1. At the fork follow the road on your right. This becomes Admiralty Road. As the road reaches the water side look to the left where behind the small car park is the Artillery Tower.

As you walk along Admiralty Road towards the Artillery Tower behind the wall on your left is the Stonehouse Lawn Tennis Club.  This is part of the former Winter Palace of the Earl of Mount Edgecumbe.

The Artillery Tower is one of, if not the oldest complete buildings in Plymouth, the seven-sided fortification fronting Firestone Bay dates to around 1490. The castellated structure has seen a variety of uses over the last 100 years or so, from coastguard station to public lavatory, and since 1985 it has served as an interesting and popular restaurant.

Firestone Bay itself is popular with scuba divers due to its sheltered water and deep (up to 42 metres) diving.

As you walk back to the car park there are far reaching views across Plymouth Sound. Drake’s Island can be seen across the water, beyond it the coast of South Devon with Bovisand and Wembury point in the distance. Bridging the gap between headlands is the Plymouth Breakwater.

Drake’s Island is a 6.5 acre island named after Sir Francis Drake. It was also known as St Michael’s or St Nicholas’ Island from 1135 onwards. It is only in the past 100 years that the Drake’s name has been adopted. From 1549, the island was used for defensive purposes. In 1880 two gun batteries were completed on the island. Defence duties continued in the Second World War and up until 1963. The island was bought in 1995 for £235,000 from the Crown Estate and remains in private hands.

This leads back to the car park.

Public transport

The best way to reach the Royal Wiliam Yard is to catch the ferry from Plymouth Barbican - see their website for times.

Alternatively it is a short bus ride from Plymouth City Centre - for timetable information visit Traveline or phone 0870 6082608.


Admiralty Road free car park, PL1 3RS


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