Getting to the fort
Spitbank Fort lies a mile off the southern coast of England, in the stretch of sea between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight known as the Solent. So to get there you need a boat, and this is arranged as part of your stay. We were asked to be at the “Departure Lounge” (in Gosport when we went but about to move to a new permanent location on Gunwharf Quay in Portsmouth) by 11.30 AM. We drove there, and parking was provided with a pass that entitled us to stay till midnight the following day – so time to do some sightseeing the next morning if you fancy it.
We were welcomed with tea or coffee (disappointingly weak coffee, I have to say) and met some of our fellow guests. We were then formally welcomed and offered a tot of Navy rum served in old gun canisters that had been transformed into rather stylish drinking vessels.
At midday we left, walking a few yards to the jetty where we boarded the catamaran that was to take us to the fort. It was a very cold day so we were glad to find indoor seating, though I did brave the elements to stand for a short while on the open aft section and take some photos of Portsmouth as we departed.
The crossing takes about 20 minutes so it was not long before we were pulling up alongside the fort. It was easy enough to step ashore but anyone with walking difficulties should note that there are several flights of metal stairs to climb before you enter the warmth of the Victory Bar and are welcomed with champagne.
More about that cosy bar in due course, but first I must tell you about Kyle
- Historical Travel
Trains from Victoria/Gatwick to Portsmouth Hbr
A train from Victoria will take you to Portsmouth Harbour in about 2 hours (and from Gatwick about 1h 40min). One way tickets may be very cheap even £5 or 10, depending on the date and time you travel . The earlier you book, the cheaper it should be. One downside with the cheap price is that there is not that much flexibility in travel times and you must travel on your booked service(s) eg only Southern Railway, not Southwest Trains.
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Portsmouth Harbour sees ships leaving for the Isle of Wight, the channel islands, Bilbao and Le Havre, St Malo and Cherbourg in France. The harbour is north west of the city centre,there is a shuttle bus you can take.
Ferry Travel Tariffs
Adult Return £2.40
Ferry 10 Trip Tickets
Quarterly Season Tickets
Adult + Bicycle £145.00
Child/OAP + Bicycle £87.50
Adult + Motorbike £170.00
OAP + Motorbike £115.00
City Card Tickets
Adult Return £3.40
Child/OAP * £2.30
OAP tickets valid after 0930hrs Mon – Fri
Motorised Wheelchair £1.10
Wheelchair users, person
Gosport Ferry Timetable
The Gosport to Portsmouth ferry service
operates 7 days a week, 364 days a year
Monday to Friday (inclusive)
0530 - 0630 every 15 minutes
0630 - 0930 every 7.5 minutes
0930 - 1530 every 15 minutes
1530 - 1830 every 7.5 minutes
1830 - midnight every 15 minutes
0530 - 0930 every 15 minutes
0930 - 1800 every 7.5 minutes
1800 - midnight every 15 minutes
0530 - midnight every 15 minutes
After watching the speed of the hovercraft zipping over the sea to dock at Southsea Clarence Pier a mans need for speed kicked in and next thing I know we were booked on the next ferry trip to the Isle of Wight.
The trip only takes 10min in total and is incredibly smooth. Once you get off at Ryde there are a number of places to visit and you can get a combined ticket included with your travel. There is the Isle of Wight zoo and Tiger sanctuary. Also for those people who love steam trains there is a 5 mile stretch of that can be done in a steam locomotive only a 5 min electric train hook up from Ryde. Some lovely sandy beaches await you as well as the historic Cairsbrooke castle and Osbourne house.
The return price is GBP13.50 slightly higher from Southsea then Ryde although there is a family special fare of GBP25 2 Adults and 3 children
South West Trains
We caught the train down on friday from London waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour, it was a pleasent journey on southwest modern trains their toilet facilities are clean. The journey there only took 1hr33 although on the way back we somehow jumped on the slow train which took 2hr10 so my suggestion would be to ask a member of staff before boarding to ensure you have the fastest option possible. Buying your tickets in advance will lower the price you have to pay.
A train from Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour
A train from Waterloo will take you to Portsmouth Harbour in about 1,5 hours. Return tickets cost from £27 onwards return (Super Off Peak travel which is generally valid for travel after 1100 Monday to Friday).
You can choose between Anytime, Off Peak, Super Off Peak and Advance Tickets. Only the Advance tickets need to be booked at the latest the day before, the others can be bought on the same day at the station. The downside of an Advance ticket is that is available for single fares only, whereas the others can be bought as return tickets. In addition, you lose flexibility of your travel times since the ticket is only valid on the train(s) it is booked for. With the other tickets, you can take any train.
Anytime tickets allow travel without time restriction and are the best option for those needing complete flexibility. Tickets are available as Singles, Day Returns or period Returns in First or Standard Class. Please note Anytime Day Single and Anytime Day Return are valid on the the date printed on the ticket. Anytime Return: For the outward journey, tickets are valid for 5 days from the date printed on the ticket. The return journey must be completed within one calendar month.
Off Peak tickets are flexible tickets which are only valid after the morning peak. Tickets are available as Singles, Day Returns or period Returns in First or Standard Class. Off Peak Single and Off Peak Day Return tickets are valid on the date printed on the ticket.
Off Peak Return: The outward journey must be completed on the date printed on the ticket. The return journey must be completed within a calendar month of the outward date.
Off Peak tickets are generally valid after 0930 Monday to Friday (except for cases when you are travelling into London, an Off Peak Day ticket is valid on trains arriving into London Waterloo or London Victoria at 1000 or later, Monday to Friday). All Off Peak tickets are valid at any time at weekends and public holidays.
Super Off Peak tickets are flexible tickets offered during our quietest times of day and offer larger savings compared to Anytime and Off Peak tickets. Tickets are available as Singles and Day Returns in Standard Class only on selected routes.
Super Off Peak Single and Super Off Peak Day Return are valid on the date printed on the ticket. Super Off Peak Return: The outward journey must be completed on the date printed on the ticket. The return journey must be completed within a calendar month of the outward date.
Super Off Peak Day tickets are generally valid for travel after 1100 Monday to Friday. If you are travelling on a longer distance journey to London, they are valid on trains arriving into London Waterloo or London Victoria at 1200 or later, Monday to Friday. Please note: Super Off Peak Day tickets are not valid on trains leaving London Waterloo or London Victoria, Vauxhall, Queenstown Road or Clapham Junction between 1600 and 1900, inclusive, Monday to Friday.
All Super Off Peak tickets are valid at any time at weekends and public holidays. Super Off Peak Return ticket validities will vary depending on the journey you make.
Advance tickets are the cheapest fares for longer distance travel with fares starting from just £9 single. Tickets are available as Singles only in First or Standard Class. An Advance ticket has no flexibility in travel times and you must travel on your booked service(s). They go on sale up to 12 weeks before your date of travel and must be booked by 11.59p.m. (23.59) on the day before travel. Tickets are sold subject to availability and the lowest price fare may not be offered on all services.
Use the online journey planner to check when you can travel. Off Peak and Super Off Peak tickets may be valid at different times if your journey involves travel with another train company.
- Historical Travel
Regular buses run to Portsmouth Harbour and Portsmouth and Southsea train stations during the main summer season. There is a taxi rank outside the main terminal and you can call a cab from the free phone inside the building.
P&O Ferries Tel: 08705 20 20 20
Brittany Ferries Tel: 08705 360 360
Condor Ferries Tel: 01305 761551
Wightlink Tel: 08705 827744
LD Lines Tel: 0870 458 0401
This hovercraft will take you no longer than 10minutes to get from Southsea in Portsmouth to Ryde on The Isle Of Wight
having traveled on it myself, was very impressed and Ryde is a good starting point to explore.
Hovertravel and Southern Vectis combine to give you a bargain day out. In addition to your day return hovercraft crossing, you can ride all day long on Southern Vectis Bus services and also on the Ryde to Shanklin Island Line trains. There are many different destinations to choose from, all of which are within easy reach. For those who want to stay longer than a day, the Hover Rover can be extended to cover travel for up to 8 days. Add £3.15 (£1.60 for children) for every additional day's unlimited travel on the buses.
price at the time of putting this on was: £14:60each, great value if your planning on sightseeing.
Take a ferry to France
From Portsmouth we were headed to Normandy so had to figure out the best way to get there and found that there are all kinds of ferrys from all over southern England to France and other places inclucing pretty good service to Le Havre. We had never done an overnight sailing so I was not sure what to expect. There were no cabins available so I opted for something called a "sleeper seat" not having any idea what that was. It turned out to be a very long and pretty wide seat which FULLY reclined. Also from the seat in front of me there was a panel which folded down to level with my seat front so I could stretch out fully (see the photo and click it for the full length view). I slept like a log (but I can sleep anywhere). My wife didn't sleep as fully as I but did get enough sleep to be alert and ready to go upon landing.
The ship had a small snack bar in our section and I saw a full cafe/bar as we were leaving. We had some wine and crisps as we departed a little before midnight. The timing was great for us as we arrived the next morning about 8:00 so had the full day. We also saved the cost of a hotel room.
Our fare was about $70 per person and we were on LD Lines, but I think there have been some mergers among the lines so the web site is Direct Ferries. If it is convenient you might bring a pillow and blanket if you tend to get cold. They do rent these but were out when we inquired. We were fine with our jackets however. We did not have a car but you can also drive on to take the auto across of course.
Good local bus service
Portsmouth's bus system seems to be pretty good and inexpensive at least compared to
taxis. We were able to take one from near our b & b to the docklands for less than 3 GBP per person round trip. A taxi would have probably been about double that. Also, an added bonus to public transportation is that sometimes you meet interesting and/or helpful people. On the return we were headed for the D Day Museum. I asked the driver to tell us when we came to the nearest stop. A man behind us said he knew just where we should go and would tell us. He ended up getting off with us and walking us to the front door of the museum. When I protested that he was taking too much trouble, he replied that he needed a good walk. He took us a shorter route than we would have found on our own as well.
Our Bed & Breakfast had maps and I got a Portsmouth City Public Transport Map which
is very thorough and easy to decipher as it details routes, stops and has a timetable. Bus stops also have the schedule posted.
Car, train or bus?
We went to Portsmouth by car, but there are a coupel of ways you can get there.
The first is by train... straight to Portsmouth Station! It leaves from London and takes about an hour to get there with National Rail.
Another way is by bus. National Express do daily journeys here for not very much money! Takes longer than a car or train, but is a cheap and easy way to get there.
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If you wish to travel to Portsmouth from St Malo or Cherbourg in France then Condor Ferries run a link between these ports. They also sail to the Channel Islands. I tend to book a cabin for the journey, or upgrade to the club class lounge...
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Parking around Fratton Park Football Stadium is limited to street parking apart from the hospital near to the "Away End" where there is a hospital car park which charges £4. I drove round ages to find somewhere to park and chanced upon the car park so my advice is to turn up early to find somewhere to park.
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Portsmouth & South-East Hampshire (UK) Public Tran
www.firstgroup.com - 023 9265 5240. First is the main local bus operator in Portsmouth. Its local head office for Hampshire and Dorset is situated in Southampton, though the company has a quantity of sites in Hampshire.
www.stagecoachbus.com - 0845 121 0170. Stagecoach keeps West Sussex & South Hampshire on the move. This service it has 150 buses and 300 committed staff. Over 25,000 people every day find this regular, broad network the best way to get around the area.
www.tellingsgoldenmiller.co.uk – 02087557050. Tellings Golden Miller, part of the Status Group of Bus & Coach companies, runs a fleet of around 160 modern buses and coaches from depots in Twickenham, South West London and Byfleet, Surrey, employing over 400 people.
•Stagecoach Megabus - a daily return journey from Portsmouth to London for a £1 flat fare (only internet bookings received) www.stagecoachbus.com
www.southwesttrains.co.uk - South West Trains is part of the Stagecoach Group. in the region of 143 million passenger journeys a year are made on routes through Hampshire, Surrey, Dorset, and Wiltshire.
www.wessextrains.co.uk - 0845 6000 880. They are one of 26 private train functional businesses with listed passenger services all through the South West of England, and have their head office in Exeter.
www.thetrainline.com – online booking form for tickets
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