Cycling in Portsmouth is very satisfying, seeing as you can cycle round the entirety of Portsea Island in about 14 miles.
During lockdown this became a favourite route for my boyfriend and I – amazing to think I didn’t even know about it before.
It’s nice done at a leisurely pace, admiring the views, but also as a time trial – to see who can do it fastest. At a minimum, cycling round Portsea Island will take you an hour, but I’d recommend making the most of the pretty stops along the way.
I live in Portsmouth. So my route starts at Milton Common, and ends there too, which is what I’ve done here. If you’re from out of town, you can park in one of the small car parks on the Eastern Road.
If you want to cycle Portsmouth, and around the circumference of Portsea Island – 13ish miles – then here are the beauty spots along the route, and the best way to go.
How to cycle Portsmouth
1. Head north up the Eastern Road
Cycle through Milton Common, of course the most scenic route is along the coast, but the quickest route uses the path.
I love the views here, they’re so beautiful looking out across Langstone Harbour. In cherry blossom season there were two wonderful pink trees that welcomed me on my walk / cycle. I loved the colour set against the surrounding blue and green.
Carry on along the coast, or on the path, depending on your bike wheels and desires.
You’ll be going straight for the three miles until the turning, so enjoy the simplicity of the ride and be wary of pedestrians. The coastal path does get a bit skinny the further north you go, so I’d recommend the pedestrian and cycle path instead.
Keep to the right of the Eastern Road, the left doesn’t have as much space and I think it’s dangerous to ride on that bit of road. Also unnecessary when there’s all that cycle and pedestrian space on the right.
Take your time and take a few pics as you go.
2. Cross over and go right, along Langstone Habour
Just before Morrisons on the other side of the road you’ll find a crossing. Cross over there, then keep heading north. If you’re lucky you’ll get a whiff of bread baking from the Morrisons bakery.
Just before the river you’ll find a sneaky little path, only illuminated by a blue pedestrian sign. Take a right and go down there, up the ramp.
If you didn’t like the traffic of the Eastern Road, then the worst is over. Now you have a lovely ride along Langstone Harbour to enjoy.
Go right, at the end of the path – you’ll have to get your bike through the styles, or look down the hill and you can take it round.
Then follow the path along until you can’t any more. Go right down the hill, and then round the bridge supports. If you don’t feel confident enough on your bike, just walk it round. You don’t want to fall in!
Now just follow the river until it ends, cross over the road, and follow the next section of river until that ends.
I LOVE it down here. Stop off, have a picnic, take some photos, walk around – so nice.
3. Cycling Hilsea Lines
When you’re ready, if you follow the path you’ll emerge by the Hilsea Lido walkover. You can cycle over easily – unless you fancy stopping for a chicken kebab at the food truck that’s normally there.
Once you’re over the bridge you’re at Hilsea Lido, you can stop for a swim, if it’s open. Or have a go on the zipwire. I haven’t actually done either of those things.
I prefer to just carry on cycling all the way round Hilsea Lines, usually as fast as I can go with other people’s and my safety in mind.
I love it here too. The water is so blue, families are having fun, it’s just a really nice development to help people get out and about.
You can see up to Portsdown Hill, and the views are just great.
There are lots of sun loungers and benches to stop off for some chill time if you need.
4. Cycle Portsmouth
Keep going and you’ll emerge by my gym – the Mountbatten Centre – and out onto a roundabout. To get back into Southsea take the second left, where there’s a cycle lane all the way.
Keep going straight until you come up to a massive roundabout, if you look to the right there’s a cycle subway. This is the best way of getting to Portsmouth International Ferry Port, and the next step of your cycle round Portsea Island.
Follow the signs down.
5. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Keep to the cycle routes here and follow the signs to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, you can cycle the path all the way. The dockyard makes for a great day out in Portsmouth by the way.
Once you’re here take a minute to dismount and admire the HMS Warrior out at sea. You’ll also see Gunwharf Quays and all its shopping delights, and the grand Spinnaker Tower – the icon of Portsmouth. Go and take a look if you fancy.
If not, then keep heading East, sticking to the coast.
You’ll pass Hotwalls – an artistic development in the old fortifications – and Old Portsmouth with all its colourful houses.
Head for the big wheel down at Clarendon Pier. The road down here is great for cycling as it’s so wide, and there’ll be a fab breeze coming from the sea too.
6. Cycling Portsmouth Beach Road
Enjoy those views out to the Isle of Wight, and watch the hovercraft leave for the island. Next time you could go on it – the cycling is renowned over there!
Keep following the beach cycle road, it reaches all the way to the Eastney Swimming Pool, 3 miles away.
You’ll pass the Pyramids Leisure Centre, some great restaurants, a golf course and the wonder that is Southsea Pier along the way. If you fancy a takeaway coffee at all, I’d recommend Southsea Beach Cafe over The Coffee Cup. And if you have time for cake – go to Tenth Hole.
7. Cycling Southsea Marina
After Eastney Swimming Pool, take the immediate right, down the ‘secret path’ by the car park – you’ll come out on the road to Southsea Marina. Another beautiful spot on a sunny day.
Just keep cycling and you’ll find it. Here you can look out to Hayling Island, and watch as the little boat goes across. Great spot for paddle boarding down here!
When you’re ready, come back on yourself.
This time, don’t go left back onto the ‘secret path’ but keep going straight until your road meets the big road.
Take a right.
8. Through Bransbury Park to Milton Common
Pretty soon you’ll see a car park on the right, leading to a park – go up there. Head straight through the park and out the other end. Then keep going up Ironbridge Road and take a right at the end.
Keep cycling until you get to the end, which will be a pub called The Thatched House, at Milton Locks. Take the little alley way – you might need to get off your bike if it’s busy.
You’ll emerge on the coast road back to Milton Common. Just keep following and you’ll be back where you started. Magic!
Cycling Portsea Island
The cycling route around Portsea Island is pretty straight forward. You’ll follow the signs and see the way. I feel like the most stressful bit, is probably driving up Eastern Road, and it’s not really stressful at all. I can imagine it just feels strange with the cars whizzing up behind you if you’re not used to it.
This is a beautiful route for a summer’s day. I’ve really loved cycling Portsmouth over the last few weeks, I hope you do too!
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