The River Erme 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 Ivybridge and Ermington, before reaching the estuary mouth at Wonwell and Mothecombe.
The estuary of the Erme is tidal up as far as the weir at Flete, 3½ miles inland just below the A379. Like the other estuaries of South Devon, the original deep river valley has been inundated by later sea level rise, with the tide flooding in to create a wide expanse of water.
In addition to its Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation, the estuary is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and lies within the South Devon Heritage Coast.
Our coast and estuaries play an important role in the binding of the world’s biological carbon (or green carbon), with more than half being captured by marine living organisms (hence it is called blue carbon).
With such an important carbon fixing resource on our doorstep, it is important that we restore and maintain healthy marine ecosystems. For further details please read the full blue carbon report.
- On foot: although there are footpaths in the area, there is no trail around the estuary as most of the land is a private estate.
- By boat and ferry: There is no ferry or boat service on the estuary as the river is too shallow. A crossing of the estuary can be made by wading between the slipways of Mothecombe and Wonwell for an hour either side of low tide.
Estuary conservation and management
The care and management of the Erme Estuary is co-ordinated through the Erme Estuary Conservation Group.
This group is supported by the South Devon AONB Estuaries Officer, Nigel Mortimer. View contact details.
An estuaries management plan for all five South Devon estuaries has been published covering the eight year period 2016-2024 and is available to download at the top right of this page.