Introduction : The River Yar is a fantastically picturesque estuary, a popular harbour for sailors and fishermen in addition to those seeking a quiet experience of the waterside.
At its mouth lies the historic town of Yarmouth. The Old Gaffers (gaff rigged boats) Festival erupts the normally tranquil town into a bustling hive of activity when it is held each year at the end of May/beginning of June. This event has a wide range of on shore activities and entertainment as well as those held on the water.
The town is of historical significance for many reasons but one of the most prominent is that it was the first on the Island to be granted a Royal Town Charter. After being continually raided by the French over a period of several hundred years, Henry VIII had a stone castle built at the entrance to the port. English Heritage now looks after the operation and upkeep of Yarmouth Castle.
Yarmouth also has the only swing bridge on the Island and houses one of the major Lifeboat stations. Another feature of the town is a wooden pier, stretching out from the end of the high street. Each plank is engraved with the names of the people who kindly donated towards its renovation.
Near the river's source is the town of Freshwater, from which it is not far to the legendary white stacks of the Needles, situated at Alum Bay, the coved beach of Freshwater Bay or the sandy shores of Totland Bay.
Freshwater and Totland have been the home to many people of note over the centuries, but probably the most famous of which was the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson and his house, Farringford, which now operates as a hotel.