Rising dramatically above Portsmouth’s harbour to a height of 557 feet, the Spinnaker Tower offers breathtaking panoramas from three viewing platforms. Completed in 2005 (five years later than planned), the gleaming white tower is an impressive sight, its graceful outline cleverly evoking the shape of a billowing sail. The views from inside, however, are what it’s all about: in clear weather you can see up to 23 miles, as far as the Isle of Wight, the South Downs and the New Forest. A high-speed lift whisks visitors up to View Deck 1 (328ft above sea level), where floor-to-ceiling glass walls surround you on three sides, allowing uninterrupted views across the city, harbour and far beyond. When you’ve had your fill of the views, test your nerves on the Sky Walk glass floor before taking the lift up to View Deck 2 (344ft), where you can reward yourself with coffee and cakes at Café in the Clouds. The open-air Sky Deck (360ft), on the top level, is unfortunately not served by a lift, and involves a climb of thirty steps.
There are plenty of Blue Badge bays in the enormous Gunwharf Quays underground car park, which is around two hundred yards (step-free) from the tower. Once there, the entrance lobby offers easy wheelchair access, disabled toilets, a hearing loop and helpful staff. Only one wheelchair user is allowed up the tower at a time (to comply with emergency evacuation procedures), so if this applies to you, be sure to book ahead. Large-print and audio guides are available at reception, to describe the view at specified, numbered vantage spots. There’s also a tactile model of the tower, to help visually impaired visitors get a sense of its structure. Up on View Deck 1 there’s a handrail around the glass wall, and the floor surface is level.
Food & drink: The cakes and snacks on offer at Café in the Clouds are nothing special, but the view is sensational. There are plenty of other eating options nearby in Gunwharf Quays.