The River Yealm Harbour Authority


The River Yealm is a tranquil, unspoilt and increasingly popular harbour and also an important area in terms of conservation. It is a ‘Bass Hatchery’, a ‘Special Area of Conservation’ (SAC), and a ’Site of Special Scientific Interest’ (SSSI), and as such harbours many protected species. Much of the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.


Its waters are managed by the River Yealm Harbour Authority – a statutory non-profit making body which leases the harbour (except for the Kitley Estate area further upstream) from the Crown Estate. The Authority’s function is to regulate the harbour for the benefit of all its users and derives its powers from a Statutory Instrument and local Byelaws. The Authority is made up of eleven members appointed by the four adjoining Parish Councils, South Hams District Council, Royal Yachting Association and mooring holders on the river.

The two villages of Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo house much of the local community and keep careful watch on each other from opposite sides of Newton Creek. Each has pub(s) and a church though only Newton Ferrers has shops, post office and a thriving Yacht Club.

The Harbour Entrance

newton 2

The Harbour entrance lies between Mouthstone Ledge and Season Point. The mouth of the Yealm is shallow and a drying sand bar extends from Season Point on the north side across the entrance. The east/west leading line, set to clear the rocky Mouthstone Ledge by a minimum safe distance, passes over the usual position of the tip of the sand bar, which dries to 0.6m LAT.

Vessels should pass south of and close to the first PHM buoy (Fl R 5s), and proceed well into Cellar Bay before turning to port after the 'Inner Bar' PHM buoy (Fl R 3s), approximately 100m due East of the main (lit) Bar Buoy, thus avoiding the eastern tip of the sand bar. Inside the bar, the bottom is generally level, without any distinct channel, and there may be as little as 0.9 metre at Spring tides. Once round Misery Point the channel deepens to over 2.5 metres.

Harbour map

estuary map

Click image for large version

Please see VISITORS section for further details


Fancy a visit?

Here's what you need to know...


Visitor Charges PDF

Harbour Master:

(01752 872533) (No VHF listening watch is kept). Charts: Admiralty 30, 1613; Imray C6, C14; OS 201


HW Dover –0520.

MHWS 5.4m, MLWS 0.7m, MHWN 4.3m, MLWN 2.1m


West and East Ebb Rocks, Mouthstone Ledge from east; Inner and Outer Slimers from west (all unlit). Sand bar across northern side of entrance (lit). Only 1m within entrance at springs. Not recommended on an ebb tide with strong onshore winds or swell. Newton Creek and large areas of upper reaches dry.

Harbour Entrance

The Harbour entrance lies between Mouthstone Ledge and Season Point. The mouth of the Yealm is shallow and a drying sand bar extends from Season Point on the north side across the entrance. The east/west leading line, set to clear the rocky Mouthstone Ledge by a minimum safe distance, passes over the usual position of the tip of the sand bar, which dries to 0.6m LAT. Vessels should pass south of and close to the red PHM buoy (Fl R 5s), and proceed well into Cellar Bay before turning to port after the additional PHM buoy (Fl R 3s, approximately 100m due East of the main Bar Buoy, thus avoiding the eastern tip of the sand bar. Inside the bar, the bottom is generally level, without any distinct channel, and there may be as little as 0.9 metre at Spring tides. Once round Misery Point the channel deepens to over 2.5 metres. Leave the red can Spit buoy off Warren Point to port. Be sure to locate the red can Spit Buoy off Warren Point and leave it to port to clear the spit. It dries to 1.4m!

Tidal Stream

There may be up to 2 knots of current at various states of tide, yachtsmen should make due allowance when attempting to turn or berth their vessel in areas restricted by moorings.

Speed Limit

The maximum permitted speed anywhere in the Harbour is 6 knots. Due regard should also be had to wash created at lower speeds.

Anchorages and moorings

Most moorings in the river are private and licensed to resident individuals, however there is an understanding that if the public moorings are full, visiting yachtsmen may, at their own risk, use vacant private moorings. Staying overnight on a private mooring should nevertheless have the approval of the Harbour Master. Yachts should not be left unattended on private moorings without first contacting the Harbour Master. Visiting yachts may not berth alongside resident vessels without the agreement of the owner and the Harbour Master.

Visitors’ Moorings

The following mooring facilities are provided for visiting yachts:

  • One swinging mooring off Misery Point for boats up to 60ft LOA and/or 25 tons displacement.
  • Two swinging moorings opposite the Spit Buoy on the south side of the channel, each capable of taking up to three yachts rafted up or 25 tons.
  • Visitors’ pontoon in the Pool, which can provide about 26 berths.
  • Upstream visitors’ pontoon off west shore, provides about 20 berths
  • Notes:

    Craft larger than 56ft (17m) LOA or a draft exceeding 7 ft (2.2m) should seek the guidance of Harbour staff as to the suitability of berths and moorings prior to arrival. Visitors’ Pontoons – 3 abreast maximum on the deep water channel side. Please ensure, if possible, larger craft are berthed inboard and the smaller vessels do not occupy more space than is necessary. Vessels with extensive bowsprits should berth in a manner to avoid fouling other craft. POPES QUAY (below the Swan Inn) - Visitors wishing to moor to the quay for more than two hours must seek the prior approval of the Harbour Master.


    Visitors may anchor at the entrance to the river and in Cellar Bay, but keeping well clear of the fairway. Anchoring is not permitted anywhere in the river East and North of Misery Point. The open water North of Thorn Pool is part of a private estate, which owns the fundus and no anchoring or landing is permitted in this area.

    Longer Term Mooring

    Subject to availability, the Harbour Master can provide moorings for yachts to be left unattended for a week or more but not usually during peak months.

    Winter Berthing

    The river is sheltered enough to provide good winter berthing afloat. A limited number of berths are available from October to March inclusive. Contact the Harbour Office for further information.

    Public Landings

    Much of the land adjoining the River is private property. The following landing points are available to visitors:

    • Yealm Steps Pontoon.Tenders may be left secured to the pontoons or on the beach at the steps below the Yealm Hotel. The end of the main pontoon is to be kept clear at all times to allow vessels temporary berthing (up to twenty minutes) to embark stores, water, passengers.

    • Wide Slip. Steps at Baring Point at the south side of the entrance to the Newton arm. The beach is smooth down to the low water mark but facilities for securing tenders are limited.
    • Parish (Kilpatrick) Steps. On the east shore opposite the first visitors’ pontoon. Within about 2.5 hours each side of high water, landings can be made up the Newton arm at:
    • The Brook, a hard beach and slip at Newton Ferrers, opposite Noss Mayo.
    • Noss Creek, at Pope’s Quay just below the Swan Inn or at the Ship Inn.

    • Yealm Yacht Club, for visitors there is a concrete slip and jetty at Newton Ferrers, just upstream of the Dolphin Inn.

    • Bridgend Quay, there are hards at each end of the quay area and steps at the western face of the quay.

    Harbour Office

    The Harbour Office is situated at the bottom of the Yealm Steps, by the main pontoon landing. Normal opening hours are between 0900 and 1200 weekdays. In the afternoon or at weekends it is advisable to make an appointment, as times are very flexible depending on the level of activity on the river. The Harbour Master or one of his assistants will be afloat in the launch early morning and late afternoon/early evening every day from April to October. The River Yealm Harbour Authority, a statutory, nonprofit making body, administers the Harbour.

    The Harbour is leased from the Crown Estate Commissioners.

    RNLI Lifejacket Lockers

  • Located next to the showers at the Harbour Office the lockers are intended for use by visiting yacht crews coming ashore by dinghy who would like the convenience of a secure place to leave their safety equipment.  A returnable £1.00 coin is required.


    For all Customs matters contact: HM Customs and Excise, Custom House, Parade, Plymouth PL1 2JP (Tel: 0845 723 1110) or collect customs notice C1331 (Pleasure Craft Sailing in the UK) from the Harbour Office or any Customs Office.


    The River Yealm is designated a Bass Nursery area, which prohibits fishing for Bass from a vessel between 1st May and 31st December. At other times the minimum size for landing a Bass is 42cm, and only three may be landed. All fishing activities within the River are subject to local byelaws, issued and enforced by Devon Sea Fisheries. In general terms, trawling, dredging and use of nets and pots within the River is prohibited. Rod and line fishing for personal enjoyment may take place subject to the licensing and minimum size restrictions published in the byelaws. Commercial shell fishing/gathering within the confines of the harbour is a licensed activity. There are extensive oyster beds in the river.


Vessels staying overnight or using alongside facilities will be charged harbour dues. The current schedule of rates is available from the Harbour Office where payment may be made.

The Harbour Staff also collect dues in the evening and early morning. If you do not want an early morning call it is advisable to pay the evening before. Payment can be made by cash or cheque. Please make cheques payable to RYHA.


Water Taxi/ Ferry Service. A local boatman offers an independent and limited water taxi service between 1st April and 30th September.

The same operator maintains the continuity of the South Devon Coast Path by running a triangular ferry service between Wembury Point, Yealm Steps and Wide Slip.

Ferry operating hours are usually Easter to  mid September: Daily 1000 – 1200 and 1500 -1600 though this becomes 1000 – 1600 during the summer school holidays.

Water Taxi hours are as above (ferry hours) and evenings by prior arrangement.

Contact on Mobile: 07817 132757


Petrol and diesel is not available in Newton Ferrers or Noss Mayo. The nearest alongside fuel is in Plymouth. Petrol and diesel are available by can from the garage in Yealmpton about 4 miles away.

Waste DisposaL

A rubbish pound for domestic waste is provided at Yealm Steps. This is the only place where rubbish may be landed. Please bag your rubbish securely and place it inside the green or black sacks provided.

Les visiteurs sont priés de mettre détritus et déchets dans les sacs en plastique, de bien ficeler ces derniers et de les déposer dans les poubelles fournies a cet effet sur le quai au bas de l’escalier qui mene au Yealm Hotel, d’ou les ordures sont ramassées plusieurs fois par semaine. Etant donné que le service de ramassage des ordures n’est affecté que des poubelles du quai, vous etes priés de ne laisser vos détritus et déchets que dans ces poubelles. Merci.

Showers & Toilets

Facilities are available adjacent to the harbour office for use by crew members of visiting craft. They will normally be open (no code required) daily from 0800-1800 and you will need to have some pound coins with you if you want hot water! Please leave these showers as you would wish to find them. Showers are also available at the Yealm Yacht Club, open 24 hrs and also take £1 coins. See map.

Public toilets are situated at Yealm Steps (by the harbour office), at the top of Newton Hill and at Noss Hard.

Whilst visiting you are requested to use the facilities provided in favour of your own on board. Water quality is an important issue for all users of the Yealm.

Fresh Water

Available at the end of Yealm Steps Pontoon (minimum depth at LW 1.5m) and Bridgend Quay.

Alongside Drying Berths

By arrangement with the Harbour Master visiting craft may berth alongside for maintenance at:

  • Bridgend Quay, at the head of the Newton arm. A refitting/repair berth is available. Water and electricity supplies are provided and cranage can be arranged.

  • Pope’s Quay in Noss Mayo Creek. (The maintenance posts opposite Madge Point have now been permanently removed).
  • Temporary Alongside Berthing Visitors wishing to embark stores, water and/or passengers are allowed to berth alongside the end of the Yealm Steps pontoon for up to 20 minutes. Minimum depth at low water 1.5 metres.

The nearest cashpoint is located at:
Co-op Local, 1 Newton Hill,
Newton Ferrers,
01752 872234


You can also draw out cash from most banks at Newton Ferrers Post Office, 01752 872285, located on Newton Hill.



Yealm Steps to Newton Ferrers (Circular Route) Distance 2.5km Time 40mins

Not the direct route to the shops and pubs, but one that offers more varied views of the Pool and Newton Creek.

Land at Yealm steps. Turn left at the top of the steps, along to the bus turning bay. Follow the footpath up to the right passing behind the Yealm Hotel, turn right at its junction with Lower Court Road. Continue climbing, turn right into Court Road, and follow (lkm) to the church of Holy Cross, which is well worth a visit. Leaving the churchyard on the lower side turn right into Yealm Road, and follow the right hand bend to the top of Newton Hill. The shops, Dolphin Inn and the Yealm Yacht Club can be found here. You can also visit Noss Mayo via the causeway (the Voss) if time and tide allow. Return to Yealm steps by following Riverside Road West, at the bottom of the hill and then the public footpath past Kiln Quay.

Yealm Steps to Shallowford (Shortaftete) Creek Distance 3.3km Time 1 hr

Birds, flowers, and trees. A pleasant afternoon/early evening stroll through woodland, offering views of the Kitley reach.

Turn left at the top of the steps and follow the road/track for approx 500m before entering Newton Woods. The path leads to Shallowford Creek. At the head of the Creek continue to walk up the valley and return to the entrance to Newton Woods along the high level path with a zigzag descent. Retrace your steps to the Pool.

The Headland Walk Distance 7km Time 2 hrs

A circular route with magnificent views across Wembury Bay and the entrance to the Yealm. Land at Kilpatrick Steps adjacent to the Visitors Pontoon. At the top turn right and take the lower path past Ferry Cottage (note the toll board) before following the path through Passage Wood. Climb and turn right on to the Coastal Path. Walk above Cellar Bay past the Coastguard cottages, through Brakehill Plantation (bluebells and rhododendrons), to Mouthstone Point. around the Headland to Gara Point, and on to Warren Cottage. After another 600m keep left up the track to the National trust car park. At the road turn left, and then right to descend through Hannaford to Noss Mayo. Return to Kilpatrick steps along the National Trust path through Fordhill Plantation and Ferry Wood as an alternative to the road.

Warren Point to Wembury Distance 5.6km Time Ihr 30mins

Excellent views of the Pool. the mouth of the River, and Wembury Bay and an opportunity to visit Wembury, which also offers local amenities. Land at Warren point adjacent to the paint rafts. Keep left at the top of the steps and follow the track to Rocket House, through the gate following the sign to Knighton Hill. Would you know that the River Yealm was still below you? 100m after Thorn Cottage it’s decision time at the sign post: Either footpath No 25 marked Knighton for the village shops and pub or footpath No 28 for the church and beach direct via tracks and fields. Rejoin the coastal footpath at St Werburghs Church. Descend to the Beach and Old Mill cafe (National Trust). Then return along the Coastal Footpath to the mouth of the River. At the Rocket House take the sign “View of River Yealm” (the best is saved till last). Finally descend the zigzag path to the steps at Warren Point.

High Level Circular Walk Distance 3km Time 1 hr

Appreciate the natural harbour of the Pool from this vantage point.

Land at Kilpatrick Steps, turn right at the top, through the open gate and keep to the track for 250m. By the stream on the bend take a left up the footpath, signposted to Stoke. Follow waymarks up the steep valley side and rest at the bench, part way up, and take in the view. Keep climbing and make a left after the style, follow the track through gates and bear right just before the television mast. Attractive high level views across the valley, the South Hams to Dartmoor, and Noss to Bridgend. Finally drop down the ancient trackway to Noss.

The Nine Mile Drive Distance 13.5km Time 3-4 hours

Built as a carriage way by Lord Revelstoke (Edward Baring, the banking tycoon) in the 1880’s to provide a feature in a model estate. Follow the route for the headland, walk until the fork in the drive after Warren Cottage. Keep to the right and continue SE along the drive past Gunrow Signal Station, site of a communications system for the Fleet during Napoleonic times. Keep following the drive from Netton Down to Stoke Point spectacular views across Bigbury Bay to Bolt Tail. Feel the calm of the century wood. Decision time at Stoke car park! 1) Back to Noss via the road. Straight across at the cross roads, past Rowden Farm keeping right all the way until you reach St Peter’s Church. Drop down the hill to the head of Noss Creek. Pass behind the Ship Inn and return to Kilpatrick Steps as described in the Headland Walk. 2) Turn right at the entrance to the car park and descend the road through the caravan park to the ruins of the old St Peter’s church (original parish church of Noss Mayo). Visit Stoke beach before returning up the hill to the car part. Now choose (1) or (3) to complete your walk. 3) Cross the road at the car park to continue the full nine mile drive along the coastal footpath. Pause at the ruins of the old Tea House on Beacon Hill to take in the views of Bigbury Bay, across Burgh Island to Bolt Tail. Follow the signposts down through Membland, the heart of Lord Revelstoke’s estate, to Bridgend. Keep to the Stoke Road on the left of the creek and walk on to Noss via the lower road at Pillory Hill. Return to Kilpatrick Steps.


There is a regular bus service to Yealmpton and Plymouth. From Yealmpton it is possible to connect to services running from Plymouth to Modbury, Kingsbridge, Salcombe and Dartmouth. A ferry service operates between Yealm Steps, Warren Point and Wide Slip during the Summer months as part of the South Devon Coastal Path.


Useful Telephone Numbers


  • Coastguard/Police/Ambulance/Fire 999
  • Police (all Devon & Cornwall Stations) 08452 777444
  • Crime Stoppers 0800 555111
  • Coastguard (Falmouth) 01326 317575
  • Customs (National Helpline) 0300 2003700
  • Smuggling/Suspicious Activity 0800 595000

Health & Hospitals

Urgent Medical Help 999

  • NHS 111 -For urgent medical help that does not require 999
  • Derriford Casualty 0845 155 8155
  • Royal Eye Infirmary 01752 439330 (Based at Derriford Hospital)
  • Yealm Medical Centre (Routine) 01752 880567
  • Yealm Medical Centre (Emergency Daytime) 01752 880392
  • Yealm Medical Centre is closed at weekends - Call NHS 111
  • NHS Dentists - NHS 111 ahould be able to help
  • Yealmpton Dental Practice 01752 881348 or 07719015290 (out of hours)
  • Tubbs Pharmacy (Newton Ferrers) 01752 872280


  • Wembury Cars 0800 1934000 or 01752 881651
  • Ivybridge Taxis 01752 892222
  • Tower Cabs Ltd 01752 252525
  • Yealm Water Taxi Mobile 07817 132757


  • Fishing Byelaws -Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority (IFCA) 01803 854648
  • Environment Agency (24 hrs) 0800 807060
  • RSPB 01392 432691
  • RSPCA 0300 1234999

Please see our 'Doing your bit locally' here


Rules and Regulations

Rules and Regulations, Issue 5, 19 February 2015

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