Cruising Guide - Visiting Plymouth, Devon
Plymouth is a vibrant waterfront city steeped in maritime history and has been dubbed Britain’s Ocean City. The sailing capital of the West Country, Plymouth not only has excellent berthing facilities, it also provides easy access to all of the major West Country ports and harbours. Surrounded by areas of natural outstanding beauty, Plymouth is a popular base for cruising and for exploring the incredible landscapes and stunning coastline of south Devon and Cornwall.
If you are visiting the area by boat, there are plenty of pretty anchorages to explore within easy access of Plymouth. Here are just a few of our favourites…
A pretty little bay located at the foot of the National Trust’s Mount Edgcumbe Estate, the beach shelves off steeply so is popular for diving, but you can also anchor close to the shore and enjoy a picnic in the country park or a tasty lunch at the Edgecombe Arms.
Nestled between Mountbatten Breakwater and Fort Bovisand, Jenny Cliff is close to Plymouth’s main marinas and is a great overnight anchorage. An official Country Wildlife Site, Jenny Cliff is home to four endangered plants and the lush woodlands and grasslands are important habitats for a variety of insects and birds, so you can really get back to nature here.
A gorgeous sheltered anchorage on the edge of Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, Cawsand Bay is ideal for a lunchtime or overnight stop. Tucked away and overlooking Plymouth Sound, it is a great place for a swim and the sandy/shingle beach will keep children entertained with its abundance of rock pools to explore. If you fancy a trip ashore you’ll find some good local pubs in the pretty fishing villages of Kingsand and Cawsand, from which you can keep an eye on your boat and enjoy some good gastro pub food.
Just inside the mouth of the River Yealm you’ll find Cellar Bay. With its sheltered and secluded sandy beach, Cellar Bay is a delightful swimming spot when the weather is good. To stretch the legs, venture through the Passage Wood and up over the heather covered cliffs and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views across the entrance to Plymouth Sound. However, beware the sandbar at the river entrance and check the tides for depth.
Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo
From Cellars Bay you can make your way up the River Yealm to the pretty twin fishing villages of Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo. Tie up alongside the Ship Inn at high water and enjoy a drink in this tranquil hideaway before exploring the rest of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on foot. There are plenty of walks along the stunning coastline with incredible vistas over the ocean.
Mothecombe, Coastguards and Wonwell Beach
At the entrance to Erme Estuary you’ll be wowed by Mothecombe Beach, Coastguards Beach and Wonwell Beach. All privately owned and maintained by the Flete Estate, these gorgeous stretches of sand have become a bit of a mecca for beach sports such as windsurfing, SUP and horse riding. Erme Estuary is also a wildlife haven and you’ll often spot cormorants, herons and kingfishers residing here.
If you head further east from Erme Estuary you’ll reach Bigbury Bay, home of Bantham Beach. This beautiful expanse of sand offers lots of space for seaside fun and will keep the family entertained for hours. It’s also a popular surf spot and board hire is available locally. At low tide you can explore a maze of rock pools heated up by the day’s sun, or if you fancy venturing further ashore, there are some lovely coastal footpaths to navigate. At the end of a busy day exploring and playing, why not head to the Sloop Inn for some hearty pub grub and, if you’re lucky, enjoy a spectacular sunset over the ocean.
Looking out from Bantham Beach, Burgh Island stands out in the middle of the bay. This serene tidal island can only be accessed via a special sea tractor that can be seen trudging back and forth at low tide. Now home to an exclusive Art Deco hotel, the island is also famous for its links with some of Agatha Christie’s novels.