Peter Ashley Activity Centres – Fort Widley
Photos of Peter Ashley Activity Centres – Fort Widley
What will students see and do?
The Fort Widley Equestrian Centre is one of two children’s activity centres operated by the Peter Ashley Activity Centres (PAAC) on the south coast, near Portsmouth. The other is at the neighbouring Fort Purbrook.
The centres occupy two of the old Napoleonic forts that surround Portsmouth, which sit on top of Portsdown Hill about a mile apart. Both PAAC centres offer tours of the historic structures, including the mazes of underground tunnels. The battlements of Fort Widley offer a stunning view of Portsmouth Harbour.
A visit to Fort Widley Equestrian Centre offers students an introduction to the world of horses and ponies, stable management, riding and equestrian sport. Fort Widley has a full stable of horses and ponies – 21 in all – that students can meet to learn about their care.
The centre offers group riding lessons and riding walkouts led by BHS-qualified instructors, where each rider will be matched to an appropriate horse or pony. Group lessons are tailored to the group’s ability level and goals.
The Fort Widley Equestrian Centre is accessible to those with physical disabilities and staff have experience in teaching students with Special Educational Needs.
How does the trip link to the curriculum?
Riding horses and ponies is a healthy physical activity that will help pupils develop balance, physical coordination and flexibility. Working with horses and ponies connects pupils to nature and teaches them responsibility, compassion and empathy. Riding can also help children develop courage and perseverance.
The Fort Widley Equestrian Center is a registered Riding for the Disabled (RDA) centre with professional instructors experienced working with riders with disabilities. In addition to the centre’s stable of amiable ponies and horses, it can also offer mechanical horse sessions for those who can’t interact with live horses, and for other training purposes.
Teaching resources provided
The Peter Ashley Activity Centre team will work with you to design a bespoke programme for your class visit to Fort Widley. The educational goals you set will guide the development of your programme.
Minimum and maximum group size
Ordinarily, up to 10 riders per hour may participate in a group riding lesson. If you have more people they can be accommodated by breaking into smaller groups and rotating through various activities. Contact the Fort Widley Equestrian Centre to determine how best to accommodate your class for your planned activities.
The Peter Ashley Activity Centre offers school residentials for groups of 10 to 106, including students and accompanying adults. Packages are available for stays of one, two or multiple nights.
Details of risk assessment
The Peter Ashley Activity Centre, which operates the Fort Widley Equestrian Centre, has earned the LOtC Quality Badge, awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom. It is also licensed to provide adventure activities by the British Activity Providers Association and has Adventure Mark status.
The Fort Widley Equestrian Centre is certified by the Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS). This certification signifies the highest standards of teaching, that the school prioritises rider and horse safety, and that the horses and ponies on site receive the best possible care.
The professional staff at the Peter Ashley Activity Centre can assist you in preparing your risk assessment once you’ve worked out the details of your bespoke programme.
Don't miss our downloadable A-Z guide on completing a risk assessment
At the Fort Widley Equestrian Centre, you’ll find both indoor and outdoor manèges. The indoor facility is fully floodlit with a heated viewing gallery.
The equestrian centre has a stable filled with horses and ponies in a range of sizes and abilities. Centre staff can match riders of all abilities with the appropriate horse.
School groups may use the parade grounds for camping and caravanning, but there is a separate fee.
There’s also a special training room with two mechanical horses – one that trots and one that canters. These are used to practice mounting and riding, as well as for disabled riders who are unable to ride a live horse. There is a winch to lift riders onto the horse if needed.
The equestrian centre is wheelchair accessible, with disabled toilets on site.
Fort Widley is open year-round Tuesday-Friday from 8am to 8.30pm and Saturday and Sunday 7.30am-5.30pm.
Lessons are held on weekdays 9.30am-8pm. Weekend lessons run from 9am to 4pm.
Horse riding walk outs are available Tuesday-Friday from 9.30am to dusk.
Prices are dependent on the age of your students, the size of your group, the activities you choose and the amount of time your students will spend at the Fort Widley Equestrian Centre.
Group riding lesson prices are per person, per hour. The cost is £24 for those under 16, and £29 for those 16 and older.
Group pricing for horse riding walkouts (1/2 hour) is available. Contact the Fort Widley Equestrian Centre for details and to inquire about school discounts.
A Mechanical simulator horse is £1 for three minutes’ use. All rides must be paid for at the time of booking.
School Residentials and Meal Packages
School residential package prices are per person, per night. Prices do not include activities. Dormitories for school residentials are located at PAAC’s other children’s activity centre, Fort Purbrook, which is about a mile down the road from Fort Widley.
Bed only – under 16s: £20, adults: £21
Bed and breakfast – under 16s: £38, adults: £44
Bed/breakfast/evening meal – under 16s: £48, adults: £54
Packed lunches – under 16s: £7, adults: £8.50
Buffet – under 16s: £10, adults: £15
Tea/coffee/biscuits – £3.50 per person
Group camping at Fort Widley is £5 per person, per night. Caravanning is £10 per unit and car per night.
Driving is the simplest way to get to the Fort Widley Equestrian Centre. From Portsmouth, take Northern Rd/A397 and A3 to Widley Walk.
From Southampton, get on M27 follow it to Southampton Rd/A3 in Cosham. Continue on A3 to Portsdown Hill Rd. Turn left to Widley Walk.
From London, take A3 to Bedhampton Hill/B2177 in Havant. Take exit 5 from A3(M). Follow B2177 (Portsdown Hill Rd) to Widley Walk.
Free onsite car parking is available, including disabled parking. Contact the Peter Ashley Activity Centre to inquire about bus parking and shuttling between the children’s activity centres.
You can reach Ford Widley by bus from Portsmouth and surrounding communities. The following lines stop at or near the equestrian centre: 20, 7, 7C, 8, SD5.
The Fort Widley Equestrian Centre is accessible by train from Southampton and London.
The Peter Ashley Activity Centres, Fort Widley, Portsdown Hill Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire
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