17th September 2016
My WI have a seaside trip every year, we missed last year’s and did it on our own a few weeks earlier, but this year we made it to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. We took the slow route from Clapham Junction but this meant we had no changes and went directly to the closest station, Portsmouth Harbour.
There is so much to see and do, one day isn’t really enough. We arrived about 10 and left the dockyard at about 4 to go up the Spinnaker tower and then for a pub dinner. We probably only saw half of the attractions in this time, although a thoroughly enjoyable day out.
First stop was the Mary Rose museum, it is an amazing modern building surrounding the remains of the ship. Set on three levels, with lift access, it showcases numerous artefacts found during the excavation, from armoury to cooking utensils. From each of these levels you get a different view of the ship and therefore the applicable contents. A repeating presentation brings the ship to life by projecting video into the different rooms ,of people at the time carrying out their daily tasks.
After a packed lunch under the canopies we visited a small ship from the Galipoli campaign. A very different experience with an extremely real and emotional sound installation. Known as a lucky ship and still surviving. Down lots of stairs so not buggy friendly.
A quick stop in the museum next door, had toilets, changing facilities and an excellent kids play area. Fantastic knitted and crocheted sea creature decorations. Then we just had 45mins to kill before getting the ferry over to Gosport to see the submarine. In Action Stations we found a kids version of Go Ape and surprisingly only for little children. Betty was quickly hooked into the harness and storming about with no fear.
The submarine was an amazing insight into a completely different life. No idea how they live in such cramped quarters for so long. Fantastic commentary from some ex-service men, really bringing the experience to life. They reenacted a red alert and we got to look through the periscope to see back to the dockyard where we had come from.
My favourite ship of the day was the HMS Warrior. It was being dressed for a wedding which made it even more inviting. I wanted to stay and dine like a captain and dance the night away. Absolutely huge ship and hard to believe it is over 150 years old. So many levels to explore and fancy captain’s rooms to see.
The spinnaker is mainly lift with only 2 floors by stairs but they let you park your buggy at the bottom. Great views from the top and if you’re brave a glass panel to walk on and see the whole way down to the street. Betty was brave enough, I was too lazy to take my shoes off.
Baby/Toddler friendly info:
Station has one short flight of stairs at the exit, but building work in progress so I expect this to become step free. It is the end of the line so the platforms are all accessible step free.
The main dockyard is step free and the Mary Rose museum. The ships have narrow gang planks and stairs as they were once all working ships. Sling is recommended.
There are numerous toilets and baby changing facilities.