Had a family errand to run today, which meant travelling to Gosport to see my father in law. A good opportunity to take the bike with me and explore pastures new.
Got there in good time and after a cup of tea, unloaded the bike and hit the road. I had an idea where I was going so headed into Gosport town looking for the ferry terminal. On the way, went past Fort Brockhurst which unfortunately has become quite overgrown and difficult to see from the road. This fort was one of a number built in the 1850s and 60s to protect Portsmouth, and its vital harbour, against French invasion. Largely unaltered, the parade ground, gun ramps and moat can still be viewed on special days. Ironically, the French Navy were practicing beach landings at a military base near here recently.
"Its shorter by water' is the strapline. Looking at the map, it certainly is. £2.90 return is not bad, £1.10 for a bike is outrageous!. Running every 15 minutes from 0530 to midnight, 364 days of a year is pretty good. And, it has been doing this since 1883. If I do this again, I will use it to get over to see HMS Victory and the naval shipyard.
HM Submarine Affray
I had never heard of the "Affray' until now. This is a memorial on the harbour wall to 75 sailors, and marines, who lost their lives after sailing from Gosport in HM Submarine Affray, on a training mission, in 1951. Expecting to last 7 days, the vessel never returned and was eventually found, many days later, 17 miles off Alderney in the Channel Islands. The cause of the tragedy is not known but there are theories, posted on the internet, which suggest that this disaster could have been averted. Interesting reading!
Riding back through Stokes Bay, I diverted to visit the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue station. Known locally as GAFIRS, this station was founded in 1969 and is one of 235 lifeboat stations around Britain. Staffed by volunteers, and dependant on charity donations, this station is a full 365, 24/7 operation and not only operates at sea in all weathers, but offers a range of services to other Hampshire emergency services to aid rescue inland in times of county and national emergencies. On average, it responds about 140 times a year to emergency life saving calls. Only one word for this, respect.
What a good ride that was, 13.5 miles, and flat! Bonus.