Isle of Wight Yarmouth

Yarmouth is an engaging, self-assured little place. There is little more to it still than a quay, a castle, a square and a long high street, but in the Middle Ages it was the most important town in the island and, till the 18th century, the headquarters of its governor.

The castle stands guard over the animated harbour. Built by Henry VIII as one of his chain of defenses against the French, it consists of a gun-emplacement with living quarters behind. Open April-Sept, close on Fridays. Admission charged. Nearby in the square is the Georgian town hall and handsome George Hotel, once the Governor’s house. It was here that the 18th century artist George Morland was arrested for spying – the incriminating document, his unfinished sketch of a spaniel, mistaken for a map of the island.

Inside the modest church, mostly 17th century, is a striking monument to Sir Robert Holmes, governor of the island and privateer. He looted the statue from a French ship and substituted his own head for that of Louis XIV – it doesn’t fit too well but has a suitably defiant glare.

The High Street runs parallel with the shore – lots of private jetties and Georgian houses, one disguised as a fort with dramatic castellation. At the end of it is a sloping green lawn with seats overlooking the sea. Shops include a pleasant bookshop, Holdings, off the square and Marlborough House Antiques in the High St for good furniture and china. Pubs – four, all pleasant, including the Bugle, old oak-paneled inn.

Hire yachts, dinghies and life-rafts from West Solent yacht Brokers and Charterers. You can learn to sail as well as hire a boat from J. Sleight, who specializes in teaching children. Fishing trips arranged by T. Haward.

Virgin Australia