Peek-a-boo at Portchester Castle

Clearly when the Romans first built Portchester Castle a gazillion years ago on the banks of Portsmouth harbour, they intended for it to be an awesome place to play peek-a-boo. It’s a bit of a beautiful ruin, but that makes it more fun than a castle full of antiques for your toddler to crush and puke on.

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Awesome points:

The grounds are free – so you can go into the walled in fort-y bit without paying to have a nice picnic.

It’s on a sort of pebbly beach with nice views over the estuary. Ok, you’re not going to be paddling in it, but it still counts as beach in my books.

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It’s only £5 per adult (age 5-15 £3, free 4 and under), which is a bargain for entry into anything in this country. And it’s English Heritage (of which we are sort of still unactivated members of…), so all free for members.

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Scary Point:

Spiral staircases of death. These aren’t for the faint hearted with a toddler and a baby in a carrier, but you do get some awesome views from the roof.

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Practicalities:

Toilets for our lovely potty trainer? Why yes, but council ones out in the car park. That’s not as bad as it sounds, but does include those weird 1960’s sink/soap/handdryer in one contraptions that never quite go right. (This is not the actual one, I didn’t have that kind of foresight).

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Food: Most people would probably picnic here, but ice creams and drinks are available from the gift shop (which incidentally has an awesome range of prince/princess/knighty/dragony kids toys), and I’m told there’s a cafe in the church which we didn’t check out.

Access: The grounds are fine, but the castle itself has lots of randomly spaced & sized steps unsurprisingly. Damn those medieval people not thinking of my pushchair. We took one in a carrier, a set of toddler-carrying grandparents and Gravel got herself (turns out she’s a girl by the way, Weasel informed us of this fact the other day, and we are trying to gender-reassign her now in our brains) a new method of travel.

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Parking: Council car park which appears to be free. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before.

Verdict: Awesome. Go for a picnic and a beach walk. You probably wouldn’t check out the castle more than once, but it is cheap, so might as well. Weasel loved running around the ruins playing peek-a-boo and collecting rocks.

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