In my opinion, skateboarding is one of the greatest things on the planet. I’ve been skating for almost 10 years and despite limited personal progression in the sport, I still get excited every time I go out. That’s one of the main reasons why skateboarding is so enjoyable, you don’t have to be professional to get something out of it. I’m sure that many would argue that their own favourite sports or hobbies make them feel this way, and they are all probably right. However, this is my article so as far as I’m concerned, skateboarding is the holy grail of recreational activity (for the mean time at least). I grew up skateboarding in southern Cambridgeshire and have been lucky enough to regard the nearby town of St. Neots, a really well-equipped facility where I learned most of my basic tricks, as my local park. I have tonnes of memories at this park, if you ever need me when I’m at home then I’ll almost certainly be at ramps enjoying good times with my friends. Cambridgeshire also has a pretty great street skating scene if you know where to look. The city of Cambridge itself is always popular but many a stair set or marble ledge can be found in places such as Milton Keynes, another city with a rich skateboarding history.
Since moving to Portsmouth to study at University in September 2014 I have carried on skating as much as I can. Thankfully, my first impressions of skateboarding in the city were pretty great. Having lived in a small countryside village where the best spots revolved around some sort of curb or drain, moving to the city with more decent spots on my doorstep than I could count on my hands was quite a big deal. For those of you who are new to the city, my recommendation would be to check out the manny pad underneath the bridge between Harry Law Hall and Guildhall square or the ledges at the end of Burnaby Road. Those are my two favourites but there is so much more to go and skate like the black round rails outside St. Andrews building and the Law Court quarter pipes.
There are a few skate parks in Portsmouth too, namely Milton, Southsea and Bransbury. Milton is my favourite and has recently undergone a massive renovation, which has seen a vast number of concrete obstacles added to the park. The park itself is fairly small but this doesn’t take anything away from the fun you can have at this place. Nothing at this park is too big or daunting to skate and as such, Milton is perfect for both beginners looking to nail the basics and more advanced skaters looking to get creative with lines throughout the park. You’ll also be glad to hear that Milton has a large flat ground area, perfect for warming up and games of S.K.A.T.E. With friendly locals and a great skate scene, Milton is the first place you should visit in Pompey!
Bransbury and Southsea (both are worth checking out but for me), are not nearly as enjoyable as Milton or hitting the streets! On the other hand, if you’re into your transition then Bransbury may be the place for you. The main attraction of the park is a spacious 4ft mini ramp, ideal for cruising and or re-imagining Cheese and Crackers (if you don’t know what I’m on about then shame on you!). Finally, to dust off the history books once more, Southsea Skate Park claims to be one of the oldest in the world, with parts of the site dating back to the 1950’s. However, despite its impressive origins, in my opinion the park suffers from a lack of variety. Like Bransbury, the park is known for its transition obstacles including a vert ramp and concrete snake run. Don’t get me wrong, transition is really fun to skate, just not if it’s all the park has to offer. But, for the sake of impartiality, Southsea Skate Park is open Monday-Sunday (except Tuesday) with most sessions costing around a fiver.
After a long day skating there isn’t much better than finding a good chill spot to wind down and rest those inevitably bruised limbs. Luckily for you guys and girls there just happens to be a beach knocking around in Southsea, surprising I know! For me there is just something so calming about watching and listening to the sea crashing and splashing about, especially on those brighter days towards the end of term. Who knows, if you squint your eyes and tilt your head towards the sun it may even feel like you’re on holiday. The beach is laughably easy to get to and is accompanied by a (mostly) smooth coastal path that stretches for as long as the coastline does. Pushing it in its entirety will wear you out but it’s a great way to see the city and there are even a few spots on the way so keep your eyes peeled! The beach is certainly one of the main attractions of studying in Portsmouth and its inclusion on your skateboarding itinerary is a must.
The last stop on our brief tour of skateboarding in Portsmouth takes us to Bored of Southsea, the local skate shop that can be found on Albert Road. Bored is a great little store, always packed with the latest gear and run by a bunch of friendly dudes, who more often than not you’ll find tearing up Milton along with everyone else. However, the store goes way beyond just keeping everyone clothed. So far this year the shop has hosted two successful skate jams with competitions and product give-aways and has also premiered some of the most highly-anticipated videos in recent years such as Adidas’ ‘Away Days’. Be sure to pop into either of their stores on Albert road if you get the chance, Bored only serves to enrich Portsmouth’s ever-present skate scene.