Free Days Out In Our Neck Of The Woods
We’re fortunate to be surrounded by the beautiful and accessible South Downs countryside, and so of course if you’re looking for something quick and easy to do, then just open the front door and take a walk outside. Have a look at number 9 on our Top 10 List Page for some ideas for routes in the surrounding area, with or without a dog they are very rewarding walks often involving a country pub nearby.
In Droxford itself we have a lovely park (just by Droxford Junior School), with zip line, swings, slide etc and a green to spread your picnic blanket out on. The White Horse and Bakers Arms pubs are there to pop into on your walk/wobble back up the hill.
If you’re looking for something more substantial to make a full day out then look no further, here is my list:
Fort Nelson can be found on top of Portsdown Hill, is part of the Royal Armories, and as such is totally free to get into! It is about 25 minutes away from The Crest and the drive up to Portsdown Hill where it is located, is where the day out begins with stunning views over the City of Portsmouth (there are various areas to pull over).
This defensive fort was built in the 1860’s and has been invested in heavily to make it an engaging place for visitor of all ages, which is one of the reasons we always visit when we’re ‘back home’. Some of the highlights include the underground tunnels where the gunpowder was stored, the interactive maps for all your button pushing needs and the daily gun firings at 1pm (on selected Sunday’s there are special firings, featuring authentic gun drills by uniformed detachments).
There is a good outdoor space to burn off extra energy and there’s a really good café inside which serves a range of food including kids meals. During the school holidays the fort often has special events on, for instance during October half term they have an event named “Guts, Gore & Gangrene”, in which the children will join the ‘lady with the lamp’ for some festering fun and medical mayhem in the Fort’s Victorian hospital ward, set up using the innovative nursing ideas of Florence Nightingale.
On your way back from the fort why not stop off in the historic saxon village of Southwick which is owned by The Southwick Estate. Here you’ll find two pubs (The Red Lion and The Golden Lion) and the Southwick Brewhouse which is also a museum & shop.
Grab the football and Frisbee, pack yourselves a good picnic, just before Portsmouth you’ll find Porchester Caste where you can spend a good chunk of the day simply enjoying the historical surroundings.
Originally a Roman Fort (the most complete Roman fort north of the Alps), a castle was added in the 12th century. The Castle is surrounded by a large green where families while the time away.
Today you can certainly pay a small fee to (£6.20 Adult, £3.70 Child) to have a wander around or you can simply take in the view from your picnic blanket.
If you would like to delve into the fascinating history of the fort click on this link http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/portchester-castle/history/ or watch this short but informative video
Southsea Sea Front
Head down to the Southsea seafront and no two days will be the same at this traditional seaside location.
Southsea shingled beach stretches from Old Portsmouth to Eastney. It’s a fun place to spend time people watching and running in and out of the freezing cold waves, it truly is a traditional seaside location.
South Parade Pier recently re-opened in April 2017, following £5 million of renovation work. This Grade II listed Victorian Pier is free to walk along and has a 100 machine arcade so start stocking up on those 2p’s!
The common will often have free entry events on throughout the Summer including Heavy horse shows, Classic Car & Bus Rally’s, Kite Festivals and Historical re-enactments, but even without an event it’s a great spot to stroll around and take in the gardens.
If you do want to spend a bob or two then head to Clarence Pier where you’ll find a traditional seafront fun fair roller coaster and all, along with candy floss and fish n’ chips!
Here’s a map of the area and you can see there really are quite a few other attractions to visit which I have not listed as they require an entrance fee of one sort or another.
Winchester Great Hall
Winchester is a stones throw away from The Crest and there is so much to see, do and eat there, that’s a separate article in itself! One thing that still amazes me though is that not many people seem to know that you can walk around Winchester Great Hall and see the iconic Round Table for free!! I would say the visit is about an hour or maybe a little longer and it’s a must if you’re at all interested in history or architecture, there’s even a little dress up area and quiz to keep the Children interested.
Once you’ve finished at the Great Hall, make your way right to the other end of town to the Abbey Gardens playground, making sure you weave your way through the City Centre taking in Winchester Cathedral and the grounds surrounding it – either place is a perfect area to set up the picnic.
The Mid Hants Watercress Line
Drive to Alresford and head towards the little train station there. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the beautiful old stream trains run and you can go onto the platform and watch them arrive and depart for free, it’s quite something!
If do wish to spend some money and are planning a special weekend you can even book to drive the engine: