Monday, 26 June 2017

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for Adults - A Great Day Out


At the beginning of May my family headed over to Portsmouth to visit the Historic Dockyard and we had a wonderful day. It felt as if our visit was too short and with so many attractions in one place there wasn't enough time in one day to fit them all in. It wasn't a problem though as when you pay for entry to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard you get a whole years access for that one price.

I think this is an absolute bargain and if you are in the position to return multiple times it makes entry extremely cheap. When you book online an adult ticket is £28 and I think this is reasonable for a whole days fun, let alone a years worth. The prices are even better as a family and when we visited, our family of 5 was £60, that breaks down to £12 each, seriously good, right?

Funnily enough it was lucky I wanted to visit again as the community that I live in had planned a community day out to Portsmouth last week. So last Monday I set off in the coach with around 70 other adults for a day in Portsmouth and at the Dockyard. I was really thrilled to find that the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is as much fun (if not more) with a group of adults as it is with your kids. Whereas when I went with the kids the fun was focused on mast climbing in Boat House 4 and adrenaline thrills in Action Stations, it was quite different with my adult friends. Much more chilled and a great way to spend time together.

We were only at the Historic Dockyard for around five hours and again it wasn't enough for me. I'm already coveting my next visit and don't be fooled into thinking I am a naval freak or a history buff. I'm really not but the place is just so vast and diverse and it has captured my heart.


Enjoying a Coffee
After a couple of hour journey on the coach we started our visit with a Costa in the entrance building and we sat outside and enjoyed the view of the harbour and HMS Warrior 1860. We had wanted to enjoy a coffee (and the stunning harbour views) in the Midships Cookhouse in Boat House 4 but sadly they didn't have any soya or skimmed milk for my (fussy) friend. The staff member was great thought and explained they never have a call for either but he would certainly take note.

We didn't linger in Boathouse 4 as this was one of the buildings I had visited on our last trip. My kids had loved the mast climbing experience in there and there are loads of hands on attractions for kids. It is also very cool that we visited on a weekday this time as we were able to see the boat builders actually at work on the boats being restored.


HMS Warrior 1860
I'd heard many good things about the HMS Warrior 1860 and hadn't yet visited so this was the first attraction that we headed to. There is lots of restoration work going on, on the deck at the moment to ensure the longevity of the boat and it was interesting to see the metal structures that are there now and what they are being replaced with.

My favourite part of our visit onto the HMS Warrior 1860 was the volunteers. There are so many people offering their time upon the ship and they are super friendly and really knowledgeable. I have to make special mentions for Derek, shown in the picture here with me (and works in memory of his late wife who was a dedicated volunteer at the Historic Dockyard) and Roger Mitchell who patiently explained how the ship worked in years gone by.

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The HMS Warrior 1860 is a magnificent ship to look around and you get a real insight to how the 600 odd crew would have been living back in those days. I was interested to hear about how crew would be kept in the cells for minor misdemeanours and how the ships boys had to bath daily, so that the Royal Navy could, over time change customs and get the sailors to start bathing regularly and taking better care of themselves and the ships hygiene.

National Museum of the Royal Navy
This large museum is really spacious and airy and has so much to see and listen to. It was definitely worth spending some time in here to get to know a bit more about how the Navy works and to find out about some of the historical sailors, boats and battles.

Probably my favourite art of this museum was the 'Hear My story' gallery where you can don some headphones and listen to the undiscovered stories from the ordinary men and women who live abroad Naval ships.


Harbour Tour
Departing hourly at half-past the hour (but make sure you check on the day, by the side of Boathouse 4) was the harbour tour that takes a round 45 minutes. Whilst we were in Portsmouth Monday it was a glorious day and what better than to go out for a pleasant boat ride? The boat takes around 50 passengers and you can't book so on a busy day get there a bit early to be able to queue. We sensibly choose to take the 1.30pm tour and as it was lunchtime it was less busy and we arrived at spot on 1.30pm and were one of the last to be let on the boat.

You can sit up on the top deck (I recommend this) or downstairs on a smaller front veranda or inside if it is a bit blowy. I loved being at the side on the top as it meant I could stand and watch above others heads when the views and boats being pointed out and discussed where on the opposite side to me and then I could sit when people needed to see over my head as the attraction was on my side.

Our captain who drove the boat and gave us the audio tour was really well informed and we came away knowing loads about the working naval base, the boats that are docked, how the dockyard was dug out centuries ago and some of the trivia of the local area.

Refreshments are available to buy on the boat and there are toilets available too. On the return trip around the harbour the boat docks at Gunwharf Quay so you can get off and enjoy a spot of shopping or eating if you fancy and regain access to the Historic Dockyard later int he day if you so wish. We took advantage of this stop and had lunch at Pizza Express (because I had some vouchers) and picked up a few bargains at the outlet shopping centre.


Visiting the Gosport Sites
I had really wanted to visit the two attractions in Gosport, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum and Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower but we just run out of time. I had thought that the harbour tour stopped off at them and that they would be in the same place but actually you get a free waterbus to both sites and it is different boats, at different times for each. So these are what I'll be coming back to visit next time!

Thanks again Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, we had a lovely time and I was impressed all over again. Everything is so clean and well kept and I'm very happy to recommend you as an awesome day out for adults and kids alike!

You can read my first post about the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard over HERE.


Disclosure: Myself and a couple of fiends received complimentary admission to the Historic Dockyard for the purpose of writing this review post. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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