VISIT | Wandering the Portsmouth Harbourside | Hampshire
Portsmouth's Living History
Discover a unique trail around Portsmouth's Harbourside
Learn more of the history of this south coastal port - a sea defence, its role in naval warfare, the social impact on the area
Take the sea air, promenade along the Millenium Trail, learn and enjoy
"...the sea air, the history, the life and the diversity..."
It’s a bit like the Yellow Brick Road. Except here on the southern English coast, the path which links this community is a chain rather than golden bricks. The Millennium Trail connects the communities in this harbourside area of Portsmouth and beyond; Gosport, Old Portsmouth, Southsea. The chain is set into the footpath so visitors and interested locals can follow their feet to discover the ancient and the thought-provoking.
It appears to tower over the skyline, but Spinnaker Tower is a modern addition to this landscape. Opened in 2005, the popular design was selected as it mimicked the spinnaker sail on a boat. Now it is the jewel in the crown of the Portsmouth Harbourside redevelopment. Behind it sits the historic dockyard where visitors can take a wander through naval history and maritime celebration.
Leave the cafes, restaurants and shops behind, and your feet will lead you heading around to Southsea on the Millennium Promenade. Follow the chain and take a journey through the history of this place. The background to your wanderings is the wonderful views of the Solent; the watery blue to your right.
The seawall is pockmarked with older sea defences. The old round tower dating from the 15th century speaks of Old Portsmouth. A time and place when this wonderful old stone tower was the defence of this harbour against the marauding French. Now more than a delightful viewing platform, it just begs for the imagination to see warships and cannons, rather than the small sailing boats and occasional hovercraft.
The wonderful thing about this route is the ability to perch, to stop, to sit and ponder, to study and ask questions; or simply to pass the time with your fellow wanderers.
At some point, your meander may take you past Nelson. A statue of whom sits in splendid peace – the figure of a man whose history was entwined with this place. It was from here he left for HMS Victory and ultimately the Battle of Trafalgar and his death in the Napoleonic Wars in 1805. Seen by many as one of Britain’s finest.
Another site to provoke a reaction is the Royal Garrison Church. Under the trust of English Heritage with limited opening hours, it still stands as a monument to the history of this place. A 13th century church built in the medieval period for pilgrims with a chequered history through the Tudor Reformation and then an unfortunate meeting with a firebomb during the Second World War when Portsmouth was targeted for strategy and tactical success. The building which now exists in an amalgamation of all of this.
There is so much here to discover. So much to find. Life. Memories. Histories. Local pride. And the thing that binds it all together – the sea which crests and falls; that shimmers light and brings life; that offers a sleepy afternoon or an exciting journey.
Welcome to Portsmouth – its more than just a harbourside, it’s a living history. Take a journey through time. And just for fun go to the beach. It's all here.
Directions and Map |
Head for the Portsmouth Waterfront near Spinnaker Tower on the Hampshire coast