63. Portsmouth to Gosport

Beware big waves, Portsmouth beach, Ruth's coastal walk.I start where I left off last weekend, by the South Parade pier on Portsmouth’s shingle beach. There are signs warning of large waves created by ferries passing by. I feel nostalgic when I see the Isle of Wight ferry. I spent six months working as a surgical house officer in St Mary’s Hospital on the Island, many years ago.

This is a breezy bank holiday weekend and today turns out to be a fantastic day of walking, with a chance to try out my new camera. I take far too many photographs and so my blog of today’s walk will consist mainly of these photos.

(Having broken the autofocus on my old Olympus, I was keen to buy a new DSLR of the same make, so I could use the Olympus lenses. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a new DSLR Olympus for sale. I don’t know why. So, I have bought a Canon EOS 550D. The lens I am using is the basic 18-55mm one that came with the new camera.)

Portsmouth South Parade Pier, Ruth walks round the coastline.

After the pier, I walk past the new Pyramids Centre – a rather fine piece of architecture.

new development, Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth. Ruth walking round the coast.

lighthouse, Southsea Common, Ruth walks the coast through PortsmouthOn the southernmost tip of the beach stands Southsea Castle and the lighthouse, incorporated into the castle wall. The castle has been restored. The lighthouse is still functioning.

Beside the lighthouse, on a piece of green land called Southsea Common, is a bandstand. People are assembling at the bandstand and it looks as though some sort of concert is about to take place.

Memorial, Southsea Common, walking round the coast, through PortsmouthFurther on, I walk past Southsea Naval Memorial. This is a fine-looking memorial, flanked by lions and reminiscent of Trafalgar square.

kite flying, Southsea Common, Ruth's coastal walk through PortsmouthSouthsea Common is awash with bright, floating kites and balloons. There is a fun fair and entertainments. Later, I find out that Portsmouth is hosting an International Kite Flying Festival this weekend.

Past the kites, I walk along Clarence Pier. This is the only ‘tacky’ part of the seafront I come across – with amusements, childrens’ rides and arcades.

Clarence Pier, Portsmouth. Ruth walks around the coast.

Beyond Clarence Pier is a renovated area where new sea walls have been constructed and creates a lovely walkway along the sea, overlooking a stretch of water on the landward side. This walk is part of the new Millennium Walkway through the old part of Portsmouth. A chain motif, etched into the paving slabs, provides a nice visual link to the sections of the walk.

Beyond Clarence Pier, the walk passes through the old part of Portsmouth – past the Square Tower and through the Round Tower.

Pubs in Old Portsmouth, on Ruths coast walk.This area of Portsmouth has been renovated very nicely – I barely recognise it from the grimmer, dilapidated Portsmouth I knew 35 years ago.

Now I come to an area I do recognise. Here are a couple of old, historic pubs and a cobbled street, where my husband and I came in our younger days, grateful to find one scenic spot in this city.

Looking at Wikipedia, I discover this area is called Portsmouth Point and there is an old coloured etching by Thomas Rowlandson showing how this same view might have looked in the late 18th Century.

Spinnaker Tower from Old Portsmouth, Ruth's coast walk.Just beyond the old pubs is a waterfront area that has undergone extensive renovation with new housing overlooking a small marina. Looming over the whole scene is the wonderful shape of the Spinnaker Tower.

The Millennium Walkway continues around the marina and into the new, commercial centre in which the Spinnaker Tower stands.

I have to confess that my husband and I visited the Spinnaker Tower and went up to the viewing platform this morning, before I started my walk today. Having looked forward to this for many weeks, I couldn’t wait! The photographs I took from the top are at the bottom of this blog.

By the time I reach this section of the walk, I am growing tired. I stumble around the shopping area for a while, trying to find my way through to the other side. Unfortunately, I continue following the Millennium Walkway markings, that don’t lead through. Eventually, I find the way out the other side and end up in Portsmouth Harbour.

Looking at the OS map, there is no easy way of walking round the Harbour area. Although there is a section of footpath along the northern part, most of the route around would involve road walking and some of the roads look very busy indeed. So I am pleased to have discovered a ‘Ferry P’ on the map, crossing the narrow channel at the mouth of the Harbour and taking me straight to Gosport.

The Gosport Ferry ride costs me £2.70 (I have to buy a return ticket – they don’t sell singles). This is a fantastic service with a crossing every 7.5 mins in peak times.

Spinnaker tower from Gosport ferry, Ruth's coastal walk through PortsmouthGosport Ferry looking back to Old Portsmouth, Ruth's coastal walkThe sun comes out for the crossing and I take advantage of the few brief minutes, before we dock at Gosport, to take some photographs of the Spinnaker Tower and Old Portsmouth from the ferry.

It is only after I have wandered around the deck for the whole trip, taking in the views, that I notice the signs telling me that passengers should remain seated at all times!

HMS Warrior, Portsmouth, from Gosport Ferry, Ruths coastal walk.I get a good view of HMS Warrior, a 19th Century steam and sailing warship. With an iron clad hull, and to defend us against possible French aggression, this was the largest ever ship to be built at the time.

This wonderful ship has been restored and is available for parties and weddings. In fact, my round-the-coast mentor – David Cotton – got married on this ship and instructed me say ‘hello’ to it.

When I get to Gosport, I find the harbour area is surprisingly attractive and stop to watch the ships go by. I can’t resist taking yet another photograph of the wonderful Spinnaker.

Gosport was an important military and naval centre. I discover it very much still is.

Spinnaker tower from Gosport, Ruth's coastal walk.

A footpath takes me past a marina, past a submarine (now a museum) and then along an extraordinarily boring road.

boring walk in Gosport - Ruth walks around the coastlineHospital, Gosport. Most boring walk. Ruth's coast walk. The road runs past a military area with high walls on either side and checkpoints on the side roads. I cannot get to the coast. The only thing of interest I see is a hospital sign alongside an impressive rectangular tower. (I believe this is part of The Royal Hospital Haslar, a naval hospital, now undergoing redevelopment.)

I am relieved to come to the end of the long, straight, boring road. Turning right, I walk past residential housing and then past a building surrounded by high fences. I believe this to be a prison, but later I discover it is Haslar Immigration Removal Centre.

Just past the Centre, through a car park, I catch a glimpse of the sea. But, after walking across the car park and finding myself on the shore, I am unable to walk any further as the way to the West is barred. It looks as if the barriers are shielding an old fortification. But there are no information signs in place. Later I find out this is Fort Monckton, an ancient fort but also MI6’s training HQ, according to The Times.

HM Prison, Gosport. Ruth's walk around the coast.

To my left I see a new building with high fences and I think this must be a new prison. But I can find no reference to a prison in this area – only to the detention centre. So what is this building? I don’t know.

Gilkicker, Gosport, Ruth's coastal walkA footpath leads from the road towards yet another fort, the 19th century Fort Gilkicker. The area around the fort has lakes and public access. The fort itself is closed off, although I see people walking around it.

Beyond the fort, I reach the coast. From an information board, I learn this area of the shore has deep water access and, as a result, could easily be invaded. It was also a great place to practice D-Day landings.

I stop to adjust my blister plaster. I am tired and glad my walk is about to come to an end. But I can’t resist taking one last photograph of the Portsmouth skyline, with The Spinnaker Tower, still visible across fields.

view back to Portsmouth, Ruth's coastal walk

Looking across the shingle beach and the waters of the Solent, silhouetted in the low evening sunshine, are the distant chimneys of Fawley Power Station and nearby oil refinery

view towards Hythe, Ruth's coastal walk

My husband John, Ruth's coastal walk - number one supporter I walk along the shingle, picking my way with care as my blister is really hurting on the uneven surface.

Ahead I see a lifeboat station and a car park alongside it. And there, waiting to meet me, is my husband.

Spinnaker Tower visit

Ruth up Spinnaker TowerHere are some of the photographs I took from the viewing platform on the Spinnaker Tower. I very much enjoyed my visit here. We both stripped off our shoes to walk across the glass floor – a vertigo inducing experience!

The weather today was perfect for photography with the sun shining but enough clouds to make the sky interesting. The only problem was (and I didn’t realise this at the time) that the glass was slightly tinted. This gave the photographs a blue cast and I had to manipulate them with my software to improve the colours. As a result, they have lost some of the depth and clarity of colour and definition.

view out to sea, Isle of Wight, from Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth, Ruth's visit.

View into Portsmouth Harbour from Spinnaker Tower, Ruth's visit.

HMS warrior, from Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. Ruth's visit

Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth - artists interpretation.

The Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth. Tim Baynes captures the magnificence of this towering structure.

Artist in Residence
I asked Tim Baynes to use my Spinnaker Tower photos and to capture the essence of this wonderful structure. This is what he produced. I am sure you will agree it is a great piece of artwork and I love the way he incorporates the words from my blog into the painting.

To see more of Tim Baynes’ work, please visit Tim’s website or his blog Random Creativity.

Miles walked = 6.4
High point – the Spinnaker Tower of course!


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 07 Hampshire and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 63. Portsmouth to Gosport

  1. Tim Baynes says:

    Great Blog Great Idea I love it
    I wondered could we collaborate
    I do you a drawing of your favourite locations on your route and you use them
    I become your artist-in-residence
    Let me know what you think or give me a email and we can chat Warm regards Tim Baynes 07870 221317

  2. Quite a walk you went on! Wonderfully captured here, so lovely to see that the sun was shining for you, although I do love the effect of the sunlight shining through the clouds that you have captured in the picture above the pic of your husband!

  3. You have some really interesting posts from what i’ve read on your blog. This one particularly caught my eye due to it being very close to home. It looks like you had a really good day and your photos are really impressive! Im a budding photographer myself (all be it with the older 400D) and i find the kit lens (18-55mm) that gets a lot of bad press, has actually produced some of my best pictures…

    • Hi Adam, you live in a nice part of the world and Portsmouth has improved tremendously since I was there on a student placement 35 years ago! Having got used to my new Canon, I wouldn’t have my old Olympus back. The Canon gives much better colour quality, for some reason. Regards, Ruth

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