Bank holiday Mondays were invented for day trips! Well in our house they were anyway. They are a good British excuse to visit somewhere or if the weather holds out stick the BBQ on. As the weather wasn’t looking amazing we opted for the former.
Having previously bought some tickets on Groupon the trip was much more affordable. A full price ticket for an adult to the Historic Dockyard is £32.00!!! A little steep in my opinion especially if you are having to buy more than one. The tickets are valid for 1 year at this price so you can go back which is a bonus. We got ours for £25.00 for two – bargain!!
We don’t live far from Portsmouth so it was a short drive, we opted to use the park and ride and found out when we got there it won car park of the year 2015! The site was nice and the car park had plenty of spaces for a bank holiday however the queue for the bus was rather long. After waiting for 30 minutes and three buses later we finally managed to get on one. The buses were fairly frequent but perhaps they underestimated the bank holiday business.
It was a short drive down to the harbour front and a 2 minute walk from the bus stop. The only downside to the Groupon tickets was we had to queue in the normal line and not the quick-already-have-ticket line as they needed to be swapped for real tickets.
We finally got our tickets and opted to head straight for HMS Warrior.
The ship was built in 1860 in response to the French building many many ships getting ready to launch an invasion. When she was built she was the largest and fastest ship in the world. We were handed an informative leaflet to guide us round the ship on the way in. The leaflet advised that the restoration project cost £8 million – the most expensive ship restoration.
Next up we headed to the brand new Mary Rose museum. We had both previously visited the site when she was being sprayed (by what we thought was water but it was actually wax) so were looking forward to having a clearer view. The new visitor centre was certainly impressive with no replicas, all the exhibits had come from the wreckage in the Solent.
There were interactive games and maps and videos guiding you through the different things they had found. They explained about the restoration process and how careful they had to be as they had been underwater for 450 years! Although the gold coins only needed washing with soap and water!!
The centre was very busy and this is probably because it’s still a very new site and it was a bank holiday. Due to this there wasn’t a very good flow and it wasn’t always clear where to go. But this really wasn’t a problem if it meant we could see the side of the ship which was almost preserved. After being sprayed with water and wax it’s now in the drying process, with giant black tubes constantly pumping air in. The preservation is due to be finished in the next couple of years where we will have an uninterrupted view of the ship.
Although it’s still not totally clear how she sank and we can’t find any more information on it anywhere – so if you know let me know!!
We stopped for lunch in the restaurant – my advice bring your own lunch. There are picnic tables and benches all around. The food was mediocre and cost a fortune. Enough said on that.
The Victory 1765 was up next. She is based in a dry dock right next to the Mary Rose. The experience is slightly different, no informational leaflet as the boat is filled with signs and you are led through a particular route. This is mainly due to the head height and small spaces (not a problem for me as I’m short!)
The Victory is most well known for being Nelson’s ship and the place he died (which is nicely marked by a plaque.)
The boat smells like old boat and was lit atmospherically to lead the visitors round. It was a great experience and did give a good indication what it would have been like when she was in service…just without the drunk men who were given 4 litres of beer a day!!
The ship is beautiful and is still undergoing some restoration. Great for kids and adults alike!!
We were getting pretty tired by this point and having only made it round half of the attractions we will definitely be going back! Plus the camera died at this point – joy!
We took a peek at the M33 which will be opening this summer I believe and then took a quick trip through the naval museum – which is massive and contains some amazing exhibitions. We will definitely go back and spend some more time in there to make the most of it.
There are a couple of new exhibits opening this year and the new attractions over the water in Gosport (they offer a free boat shuttle across the harbour) Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower and the Submarine Museum.
There are also tours around the Harbour but these come at an extra cost, and activities for kids.
You probably can visit the site in a whole day, we didn’t turn up until lunch time but to stop us from having boat overload I am glad we decided to split it in two – and with a free return you can’t complain!!
Overall a brilliant day out (even if the weather was a bit rubbish.)
Have you been – what did you enjoy best?
Watch this space for when we return later in the year.
**Please note I have not been sponsored for any of this, we bought the tickets ourselves and the observations are all our own**