Though Portsmouth may be best known in sporting terms for its football club, there’s plenty more to learn about beyond Fratton Park.
First, though: football. Portsmouth FC was founded in 1898, emerging from the ashes of the Portsmouth Association Football Club – whose goalkeeper was none other than Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Portsmouth FC has played home games at Fratton Park since 1898, with numerous clubs, players and managers commenting on the ground’s now-famous atmosphere.
Being an island with strong links to the sea, Portsmouth is also a watersports hub. In fact, the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, Sir Ben Ainslie, chose the city to base his Land Rover BAR team, which is launching a bid to bring the America’s Cup sailing title back home to where it was first contested more than 160 years ago.
Ainslie’s team frequently trains on the Solent, but there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to get out onto the water themselves. The Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre, located just off the Eastern Road, offers sailing, windsurfing and powerboating, with equipment suited to all abilities and levels of experience.
At the other side of Hilsea Lines is South Coast Wakeboarding. The straightline cable allows wakeboarders to pick up speed gradually, to get going and try out the jumps and rails set up in the water. It also offers lessons and coaching for beginners. Down on Clarence Parade, meanwhile is Southsea Rowing Club, which holds regular training sessions twice a week.
There’s also a chance to get out on the water for those wanting an experience that isn’t quite so physical. There are numerous fishing charters, diving charters, tour boats and even the Mini Port at Gunwharf Quays to let people of all ages out on the water.
Portsmouth is a great place for running, with our flat, paved streets making it easy to set good times. It’s one of the reasons why the Great South Run is so popular (this is covered in more detail in the Events section).
The city has a vibrant running community and hosts two, free, weekly 5k running events. Parkrun takes place on Southsea seafront every Saturday at 9am – starting at Speakers Corner near Rocksbys Café. Then, on Sundays is the Great Run Local event which takes place to the north of the city, at Lakeside or Hilsea Lido, depending on suitability of routes at the time. Great Run Local also offers a 2k event, alongside the 5k. Whilst both events are free, they require pre-registration for accurate timing reports.