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’, & oysters and mussels also thrive here. It is a ‘Special Area of Conservation’, and a ’Site of Special Scientific Interest’, 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.
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 River Yealm rises 430 metres above sea level on the Stall Moor mires of south Dartmoor and makes its 15 mile journey to the sea passing through the villages of Cornwood, Lee Mill and Yealmpton, before reaching the estuary mouth just below Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo.
Newton Ferrers is in the parish of Newton & Noss, and its church, The Holy Cross. dates back to the 12th to 14th Centuries, but there are records of a church on the grounds as long ago as 1084.
Perhaps unusually, the centre of the village is set some distance from the main harbour. Due to it's shape, the harbour is locally known as "The Pool". During the summer months, and fine weather, the harbour comes alive with activity as local and visiting boats come and go. It's a popular hang out for tourists who enjoy sitting in the waterside sun, watching the boating activities.
A local water taxi, operated by Billy, is available most of the time during the summer to ferry people about, and take tourists on boat trips. The new harbour complex houses the harbour office where Harbour Master Robin keeps a watchful eye on events, and also provides toilet and shower facilities for visiting boats.
Newton Ferrers was recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as Niwetone The village was "given" to a Norman noble family "Ferrers" and the village became Newton Ferrers. It is the likely birthplace of the notorious 17th-century pirate Henry Every. The village is separated from it's neighbouring village, Noss Mayo, by a tidal creek, which can be crossed on foot at low tide via the Voss.
The tiny, pretty little village of Noss Mayo is hidden away on the southern bank of the Yealm estuary. This ancient and secluded village is an ideal location if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and simply ‘mess about on the river’.
Despite being a village of just over 500 people, Noss Mayo has a colourful history. Although the nearby estate of Membland was mentioned in the Domesday Book, the first record of the parish is in 1198. In 1287 King Edward I gave Mathew Fitzjohn the manor of ‘Stok’ and so the village became known as Noss Mayo, which translates as ‘Mathew’s Nose’.
St. Peter's Church at Noss Mayo was built in 1877 by Edward Baring, the 1st Lord Revelstoke, and took over from the nearby now derelict Church of St Peter the Poor Fisherman, Revelstoke, which was built in 1226
The village survived the Black Death and, because of its prime location on the Yealm estuary, became a smuggler’s haunt.
Yealmpton village is located in the on the Plymouth to Kingsbridge road and is about 8 miles from Plymouth. Its name derives from the River Yealm that flows through the village. Yealmpton is home to a 400-year-old stone cottage, where it is said, a version of the famous rhyme Old Mother Hubbard was written. It is also the site of Kitley Caves where green marble was once quarried.
The parish of Brixton has a long history which can be traced back to the Doomsday Book. The local economy was traditionally based on farming, together with other rural and commercial activities around the river Yealm. The village of Brixton visibly reflects its history with its 14th Century Church and Priests’ Cottages, alongside the historic Feoffee Trust owned cottages and park.