- Leave the National Trust car park through the wooden gate at the far end and join footpath towards the sea. Pass through the five-barred gate and turn right onto the coast path along Revelstoke Carriage Drive.
Edward Baring, the 1st Lord Revelstoke purchased the Membland Estate in 1877. Much of the walk follows the route of a carriage driveway created on the orders of local landowner Lord Revelstoke in the 1880s. The Drive forms a nine-mile tour built so that the Lord could entertain guests with a scenic carriage ride and impress them with his property and wealth. On sharp bends, walls were built to prevent horses from plunging into the sea. The drive was built by out-of-work fishermen. It is said that when Revelstoke Drive was finished the labourers looked so dejected at the prospect of unemployment that Edward Baring, in a typically extravagant gesture, ordered them to make it three feet wider.
A short distance in, the route passes by Warren Cottage, which was at one time the lunchstop for the Lord and his visitors.
- Pass in front of Warren Cottage and continue, following the coast path around the headland and into the Yealm Estuary.
The area around Warren Cottage was once used for farming rabbits for their meat and skins-hence its title. The remains of walls built to keep them in can still be seen. Off the coast can be seen the Great Mew Stone. ‘Mew’ was an old name for a gull. The rocky island is a haven for many seabirds. Much of the land passed through on the walk is owned by the National Trust, and is managed for wildlife conservation and to enhance the richness of landscape. The Trust asks that all dogs be kept under close control.
Dolphins and porpoises can sometimes be seen from this section of the walk, along with grey seals. The seals may be seen ‘hauled out’ on the rocks below, or in the water with just their heads visible above the waves. Around half of the world’s population of grey seals live around British coasts.
- 250m beyond Battery Cottage, either bear left along a footpath through the woods (grade moderate), or continue along the drive. Both routes join again after a further 700m.
In the woods along the river estuary, younger trees are thinned out to allow more light in. This encourages wildflowers such as Primroses and Violets. It also provides habitat for butterflies such as the brown and cream Speckled Wood and the orange tip which, as its name suggests, has orange tips to its largely white wings.
- 20m after the routes meet there is another choice. Bear right onto the footpath through Ferry Wood alongside the road (grade moderate), or continue to follow the road itself. The two routes join after another 800m.
These days yachts and small boats are sailed here almost exclusively for pleasure. Only a handful of boatmen earn their livelihood on the water. One small ferry conveys passengers in summer across the harbour and commercial fishing, like other traditional local trades, has all but ceased.
Those who have the time can cross the water by the seasonal ferry and explore the village of Newton Ferrers.
If you have come by public transport to Newton Ferrers, here is where you join the walk.
The Domesday Book of 1086 listed Newton as part of the holdings of the Valletorts of Trematon, across the Tamar, who gave it to the Ferrers family who had come over with William the Conqueror. By 1160 Ralph Ferrers was established at Newton and it was he who gave it the family name. Today, the village lies on the banks of the River Yealm, within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a slice of tranquillity yet only 10 miles from Plymouth. Newton Creek is a narrow tidal inlet on the River Yealm. To join the walk at this point either walk eastwards then around the estuary via Bridgend to Noss Mayo or catch the seasonal ferry from the harbour office slipway.
- Follow the road through Noss Mayo village. At a sharp left-hand uphill bend turn right, by a cottage called Yonda Coombe.
Noss Mayo is first mentioned in the 13th Century when in 1287 King Edward I gave Mathew Fitzjohn the manor of ‘Stok’. The village was known as La Nasse de Matthieu which is roughly translated as the “fish trap” of Matthew. From that the modern-day name of Noss Mayo evolved.
The middle of the 19th century was a time of tragedy for Noss when an outbreak of cholera swept through the village. Out of a population of just over 600 more than 200 were afflicted and at least 50 died. Entire families have their names carved on the gravestones at St Peter's at this time.
The name of Revelstoke comes from Richard Revel. In 1198, he was the lord of Stoke and gave it the name Revelstoke. In 1226 the church of St Peter's on the cliffs at Stoke was built. Though partially ruined, it still stands today.
The Domesday Book of 1086 listed Newton as part of the holdings of the Valletorts of Trematon, across the Tamar, who gave it to the Ferrers family who had come over with William the Conqueror. By 1160 Ralph Ferrers was established at Newton and it was he who gave it the family name.
- Go past the car park and tennis courts and follow the lane, which leads onto a track up the hill.
The arrival of Edward Baring as Lord Revelstoke in 1877 brought 18 years of new houses and farm buildings built in the Baring 'distinctively spiky romantic style of continental derivation' - instantly recognisable and unique to the estate. Then, more upheaval for the area, as in 1895 the Baring bank crashed and brought financial disaster. The manor was sold. In the subsequent sales of 1915 much of the property in and around Noss Mayo passed into private ownership.
- At the road, turn left immediately right into the car park.