source: Spitbank Forts
Not many people know about this place. On the coastline of Portsea Island lies the secrets of The Solent. I got to spend the day exploring one of the secrets. The shores of Southsea on Portsea Island can be somewhat chemeleonic. Being part of the U.K., it does not escape from the ever-changing weather, but has truly transporting views on a beautiful coastline that stretches on for miles. On long summer days, I could easily spend the day out on the seafront watching sailboats play catch with the wind, ferries transporting islanders to Calais in France or watch cruise liners pass through with passengers hoping for a short break from cabin fever. The beauty that comes with living so close to the seaside and a break from the concrete jungle of London life is what inspired the move to Portsmouth a few years ago.
Having left in 2010, my visit back to Portsmouth this time was for a Sunday lunch date on the Spitbank Fort. They promised a luxury dining experience and they delivered. The Spitbank Fort is one of four forts that was originally constructed to defend the British from Napoleon’s army in the 18th century. Days of fighting have long gone and these abandoned forts have now been renovated, with one turned into a museum; one is solely owned, with the other two turned into luxury hotels. One of which is the Spitbank Fort and the other twice as big, opening its doors this autumn. You can only get to the forts by boat, so transportation was from the Royal Clarence Marina on Gosport. Floating past the beautiful Spinnaker Tower and sailors no doubt testing out their boats in readiness for Cowes week boat regatta this coming summer. With a tricky entry onto the fort due to rough seas, on arrival we were met with glasses of wine and canapes. Then a tour of the fort with a little historical detail of the living conditions of the soldiers that guarded the seas from within the fort. You cannot help but admire the old generation for building such a fantastic structure in the sea, with the little technology they had compared to what we can achieve today, and it still stands today. There is so much history within the walls. Touring the fort and watching ferries and speed boats sail past, we had worked up an appetite, so it was time to retreat to the dining room for lunch served with a side of Spit water! An interesting name for sure, but I assure you it’s not literal. There is a spring running 401 feet beneath the fort so you can quench your thirst with Spitbank (shortened to Spit) water, freshly bottled on site too. With conversations effortlessly flowing with other guests at the table and dessert beautifully caressing each and every taste bud, you could be forgiven for your mind drifting off into a dreamy state filled with all things sweet and nice.
If visiting England don’t just restrict your visit to London. There is plenty more to England than its capital. Portsmouth is only 1.5 hours on the train from central London.