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Yarmouth is small harbour town on the Isle of Wight. It has a ferry link (car and foot passenger) to Lymington. There is a small branch line with trains every half an hour to the ferry making it easy for walkers and cyclists to visit without needing to bring a car - which tends to be expensive though the ferry operator Wightlink does do deals from time to time.

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Yarmouth, Isle of Wight

IYarmouth is a delightful little town on the West Wight on the Northern shore of the Island.  Its harbour, on the Solent, is a haven for the yachting fraternity but it also has an interesting history and comes complete with Tudor castle.

yarmouth isle of wight

The ferry from Lymington comes into Yarmouth and this is certainly an attractive way to arrive on the Isle of Wight.  As the Wightlink boat approaches its berth on the eastern edge of the harbour, it is worth looking slightly further east to Henry VIII’s castle.  This is definitely best seen from the wwater, it is easy to miss the landward entrance in Quay St.  Yarmouth Castle, though small by say the standard of the magnificent Carisbrooke about 10 miles away, is fascinating and is a well preserved example of a tudor defensive fortification with cannons pointing towards the Solent and gun powder store below.

yarmouth castlePuffin cruises also run a ferry across the Solent to Yarmouth.  This leaves from the town quay in Lymington.  It is more geared towards visitors, it’s a much smaller boat and does not carry cars or bicycles.

Yarmouth Harbour

The harbour used to mainly full of fishing boats, including those of the oyster fisherman who fished the waters of the Solent and beyond for the delicacy, but now there is only one pontoon reserved for them and like so many small harbours, Yarmouth is now full of leisure craft.  Most are yachts but there is always a good smattering of motor cruisers.  Occasionally a sail training ship comes bringing to life the historical prints of the town showing it surrounded by ships under sail.

The Lymington lifeboat is moored in the harbour.  It can sometimes be seen out training but it is kept busy with real life emergencies.  The Solent has strong currents and small boats can easily get into trouble, especially off the Shingle Bank close to the Needles.

The traditional Yarmouth carnival is held in August but the now the real high point in the town’s calendar is Gaffers Week at the beginning  of June.  This only started a few years ago but has really taken off.

Old Gaffers Festival

Gaffers is a festival of gaff rigged boats (these are boats with a top mast at an angle of about 45º above the main mast) and attracts some really beautiful old boats from the 1930s and before that have been lovingly restored, as well as hundreds of more modern craft, all gaff rigged of course.

The boats are decked out in bunting, there are races on the water as well as music and stalls on the quay and in the market place.  I particularly enjoyed the visit from a re-enactment society that rowed around the harbour dressed as sailors from Nelson’s day.

Because Yarmouth attracts so many yachties – the Palace on the Quay was built a few years ago and provides excellent facilities including showers – the town is well supplied with a number of excellent restuaurants, On the Rocks is well worth a visit.  There are four pubs, the Bugle, the Wheatsheaf, the Kings Arms and the grandest of the all, the George formerly the home of an Island Governor.

There is some beautiful scenery close by, I have seen king fishers on and flocks of wading birds feed on the mud of the Yar estuary. The most famous inhabitant of the Island is perhaps the red squirrel, lost from almost all southern England but still clinging on here.

Yarmouth Walks

One of the best walks from Yarmouth is along the old railway line that run close to the eastern edge of the River Yar, to the Causeway.  At this point, an excellent pub, the Red Lion just over the bridge up the hill a short distance, offers either lunch or a pint.  You can return either the same way – the views are very different on the way back – or for a slightly longer route, follow the foot path the starts just beside the Red Lion and follow if past Kings Manor and across farm land back to Yarmouth.  The path finishes just to the west of the town and it is an easy walk along the Freshwater Road and back over the swing bridge into the town.



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