Think of Portsmouth, and you probably conjure up images of Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, the soaring sight of the Spinnaker Tower, or simply consider that city on the south coast stuck between Southampton and Brighton.
As a District 1090 Rotarian, I’m delighted you’re coming to the south coast next March since the annual conference will only be a short ferry ride each day for me from my Gosport home across Portsmouth Harbour.
Portsmouth is one of those cities with character – and that doesn’t mean it’s so rough even the Staffordshire Bull Terriers walk in pairs! It’s a culturally-rich city which is so varied and buzzing. For a starter, Portsmouth is situated on Portsea island, so there are only two roads getting in or out of the city, but you’ll soon be flying past 141-feet high Sails of the South on the M275. Be warned, though, I’m a magistrate in Portsmouth so be careful with the speed cameras coming into town.
You’ll be coming to Portsmouth next March for conference, and while the focus for the weekend will be at the Guildhall, which was built in 1890 and heavily bombed during the Second World War, there is lots to see and do.
And we’re not just talking about Portsmouth. It’s just a 10 minute hovercraft ride from Southsea to Ryde on the Isle of Wight, the cathedral city of Chichester is just half an hours drive down the A27, with some beautiful seafront villages dotted about West Sussex to visit.
The stunning New Forest is another half hour’s drive along the M27, passing Howard’s Way country and the River Hamble. And if you are really desperate, I suppose there is always Southampton to visit too!
So here’s my top five places to visit in Portsmouth:
- Gunwharf Quays – the view from the top of the 560-foot Spinnaker Tower across the Solent and towards the Napoleonic forts is spectacular. The Quays has some fantastic places to eat and if you like shopping…
- Southsea – the beach is lovely and the view across to the Isle of Wight is magnificent. Southsea has lots of quiet little cafes, and a trip to the D-Day museum is fascinating.
- Mary Rose Museum – I dragged my 80-year-old dad around the museum this year and he loved it. Yes, this is the story of Henry VIII’s warship which sunk in 1545 and was recovered in 1982. But the way this amazing piece of history has been displayed and brought to life is stunning.
- HMS Nelson/Warrior – Situated in the same Historic Dockyard as the Mary Rose, it’s hard to believe how small these warships are once you step inside. Tall people be prepared for lots of bending, but this is a fabulous attraction with an amazing story to be told.
- Fort Nelson – Overlooking Portsmouth are the chalk hills of Portsdown Hill with Fort Nelson perched atop. This free to visit museum was built during the Napoleonic era and contains a fine collection of guns and cannons. If you love history, this is a corker.
So check those diaries for March 8th to 10th, grab a group and bring your partner too, and I promise you’ll have a cracking weekend!
Dave King is a member of Rotary Elthorne-Hillingdon, and editor of Rotary Magazine – the official magazine for Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland.