Husband has been desperate to visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for ages. I wasn't really sure if Moozles and Dubz would enjoy a day looking at old boats, so I had been putting it off. But I thought that this summer would be the right time to have go for a visit. Dubz is now five and Moozles is nine, both at an age where they enjoy learning and don't throw that many tantrums. So a couple of weeks ago, we drove down to Portsmouth.
When I hear 'dockyard', I think of water and boats, but the thoughts aren't very exciting. I have to say that the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard was more than I was expecting. Before you arrive into the dockyard, you see the HMS Warrier 1860 looking quite grand on the water. When you enter the docks, you can choose what you want to do first. We went to the HMS Victory as we thought it would be less busy in the morning. Husband has quite a few memories of visiting the dockyard as a child and was keen to see the Victory again. So we climbed aboard and explored the ship.
We really enjoyed learning about what life was like sailing on the Royal Navy's most famous warship. Moozles was shocked that the Captain had his own toilet, which was just a hole on a chair. Dubz thought it was hilarious. We walked all around the ship, and even saw the kitchen and the cramped quarters where the sailors ate and slept.
Next to the Victory is The Mary Rose. It would have made sense to go there afterwards, but my children insist on eating lunch at 11.45am on the weekends, so we went to Boathouse No.7 for lunch (which was quite good, btw). Husband remembers seeing her in the 1980s after she was raised from the seabed and was impressed at how much better the display is now. To be honest, the children did not really understand why it was so remarkable, but we thought the conservation and presentation were impressive.
Then we went to further explore the dockyard. We really liked that there were quite a few things to captivate the children's attentions. They got to climb, row and even dress up. After much fun, we were all feeling tired so hopped onto the 40-minute harbour tour (which comes with the all-attraction ticket). We enjoyed sailing around, and being able to see the ships from the water.
Although you can take the cruise back to the dockyard, we stopped off at Gunwharf Quays. There are loads of restaurants and shops there. Sadly no one wanted to do any shopping (no one apart from me), so we walked back to the dockyard. We were about to go in and take the boat to the submarine (Husband loves submarines), but everyone was feeling quite tired. So we walked to the car park and headed back to London. But we will be back to explore some more and see that submarine. The ticket to the dockyard entitles free entry for one year, so this won't be a problem.
If you're thinking of visiting Portsmouth - it is a one hour and 30 minute drive from south west London. We were able to jump on the A3, and take it most of the way. There is a car park nearby (five minute walk). There are trains from London Waterloo and Victoria that take 1 1/2-2 hours. If you visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, tickets are cheaper online. You can get a family ticket (two adults and three children) for £64. And as the ticket is valid for one year, it is a great deal for a fun but informative family day out.
We were invited to visit Portsmouth for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.