Small, picturesque, and surrounded by the sea: Noss Mayo is filled with candy coloured houses and the gentle chimes of birds chirping above. Below the village, the Yealm estuary is littered with small fishing vessels, a little reminder of the community’s rich maritime past. And although Noss Mayo is located just ten miles away from Plymouth, it feels as if you’re entire worlds away. Here’s a quick guide to the best things to do in Noss Mayo, which is often cited as one of the ‘prettiest villages in Devon’.
Wander the historic fishing village
Noss Mayo has been inhabited since time immemorial and was first attested as being called ‘Nesse Matheu‘ as far back as 1286. Its small fishing cottages have sagging roofs, and nearby you’ll find plenty of breathtaking coastal walks. As a result, one of the very best things to do in this fishing port is simply to walk the small streets and let Noss Mayo reveal itself to you.
Discover historic pubs, enter centuries-old churches, and explore crumbling lanes as so many have before you. The population of the village hovers around just 500 residents, and so you could easily cover the majority of the fishing community within the space of a few hours.
A brief history of Noss Mayo
The peculiar name of the village means ‘Matthew’s Nose,’ and its population has remained around 500 residents for centuries. During the time of the Plague, the village was badly affected, and up to 50 residents died. However, the community as a whole managed to pull through and so the rich history of this fishing community continued.
During the middle ages, Noss Mayo’s relatively secluded location along the estuary meant that it became a favourite haunt of smugglers. This part of the country is known for its smuggling history, and nearby Jamaica Inn inspired the Daphne Du Maurier book that brought the activity to the forefront of the nation’s thoughts.
The Ship Inn, Noss Mayo
I’d heard on good authority that the best food to be found in town is at the Ship Inn. Family friendly, dog-friendly and offering plenty of traditional pub grub, as well as seafood inspired culinary delights (Noss Mayo is right by the sea, after all!), a log fire roars in the corner all winter long. In the summer months, there’s an open-air terrace offering beautiful views onto the estuary, and across to the substantially larger settlement of Newton Ferrers.
The Swan Inn, Noss Mayo
Just across the bay, on the opposing side of the water to the Ship Inn, the Swan Inn has an extensive beer garden where you can enjoy a drink overlooking the estuary on a warm summer’s evening. The location of this pub means that it’s easy to reach for those arriving at the fishing village by boat.
Embark on a South West Coastal Path Walk
If you’re truly looking for the best of the southwest, then you’ll find it if only you lace up your boots, grab some picnic supplies and head out along the southwest coastal path. Noss Mayo is the perfect place to base yourself if you’re looking to enjoy panoramic views and want ease of access to secret coves and secluded sandy beaches.
Gara Point Walk: By far the most popular walk from Noss Mayo, the circular Gara Point walk will take you to some of the area’s best-loved beaches, secret coves, and offers stunning scenery across the South Devon coast line and beyond.
Historic Church of St Peter’s
Once upon a time, Noss Mayo villagers would have to make the long and arduous trek each Sunday to reach the 13th-century church at Revelstoke. In 1882, a new church was constructed in 1882 to replace the church of St Peter the Poor Fisherman, which lies over a mile away down the coastline. Today St Peter’s of Noss Mayo overlooks the rest of the town, and offers breathtaking views onto the Yealm Estuary and beyond.
Visit one of the village’s three beaches
Of course, no trip to the sunny seaside would be complete without a visit to the beach! Noss Mayo is home to three sandy beaches, which make for perfect picnic spots in the summer months. Throughout the rest of the year, Cellar Beach, Warren Beach, and Passage Wood all offer breathtaking beauty spots and are worth a visit!
Take the Yealm Ferry to Noss Mayo
Situated at the mouth of the Yealm Estuary, Noss Mayo is located directly across the water from the substantially larger town of Newton Ferrers. Head there, and you’ll find plenty of shops, eateries and even more coastal walks along the South West Coastal path. The Yealm Ferry is a seasonal service and typically operates during peak season; that is to say between Easter and Mid-September.
Attractions and Things to do near Newton Ferrers
South Milton Sands: A sandy beach stretches out along a stunning length of the coastal line. Owned and managed by the National Trust, there you’ll find a quaint beach café serving excellent food (privately owned and run), a dog-friendly place to go during the winter months, and a chance to view the strange geographical feature sticking out of the water known locally as ‘Thurlestone Rock’.
Membland Estate: This historic seat of the Membland family was first attested in the 12th-century, and a good few years before any mention of Noss Mayo was ever recorded. Today, Membland offers little by way of attractions but is a pretty hamlet to pass through on your way somewhere else.