Stonehenge – What’s it Really Like?


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Our Experience 

We knew that the Stone Henge experience had changed over the years and that you could no longer get amongst the stones. A private tour could provide this, but at $1200 AUD and a full day trip from London it was a huge risk. It isn’t just about the money, it is what we perceived as value. A few weeks earlier we had spent more than this on a tour of D-Day beaches which was worth every penny. It was decided that although Stone Henge was an iconic experience, it just wasn’t going to be worth the time and effort. Well it wasn’t going to be while we where staying in London.  

We were now staying in Loxley and with the rental car at our disposal it was back on the UK agenda. The plan was simple, get up early drive to Stone Henge and then onto to the Roman Baths which seemed relatively nearby.  The plan was soon amended as we couldn’t get tickets until midday. Yes the tickets are now timed. With tickets belatedly booked we set out, not completely sure whether we had done the right thing, but we had come this far (from Australia) how could we not? 

It was forecasted to be a partially sunny day, in the middle of an English winter, as unlikely as that seemed. As we drove along A303 the stones revealed themselves at the same time as a break in the clouds. My belly flopped, I just couldn’t believe it. Was this going to be the perfect day to see these stone age marvels?  What we hadn’t accounted for was the wind. It blasted us as soon as we got off the bus. You can walk the 2.5 kilometres to the stones if you like, but there is nothing of significance on the way. It was gusting up to 50 miles an hour, and within a few minutes we couldn’t feel our faces and our ears burnt from the cold. It literally blew an elderly woman off her feet.  

The stones however, were truly astounding. As we already knew, we could only walk passed at a distance, and then only on one side. It just wasn’t close enough to feel any real connection to the place.  There is still a right of way, but they are fenced off and even further away. Perhaps to control the crowds, or maybe to make more money out of tourists like us. There was supposedly nine audio guide points which corresponded to sound bites on an app you could download at the visitor center using the free wifi. I could only locate four of these around stones. I probably knew more about the henge than I was going to get from two-minute audio clips, but considering the price we had paid for admission to the site this was disappointing. At least the app was free to download. 

I think my family spent more time in the gift shop than at the stones where a sales rep was spruiking mead and a ginger wine. Made to the same recipe that they used to drink among the stones, or so he said. The stones stand as a reminder of a time before written language, so where did they get the mead recipe from? At least when the guide was talking through the replica stone age hut, their guesses of what it was like were owned. They had made two huts with different roofs, because they could only speculate as to how they were actually built. I heard a commentary that it is good that we don’t know the why’s and how’s of Stone Henge. This way the place will forever capture our imagination and inspire our creativity, and by paying the admission you buy in just a little to its story. We seem to love an unsolved mystery, no matter how unsatisfying that it may feel.  

Parking 

Easy, just follow the signs. 

How Long?

We spent about an hour on site, but only 10-15 minutes in front of the stones. 

Photo Spots 

You can only access two sides of the henge. With a decent zoom lens you could capture from the right of way (free access)  

Food 

There is a café at the visitor centre selling a reasonable selection of hot and cold food. Savoury and sweet offerings and hot and cold beverages.

Toilets 

Toilets are at the visitor center, and are clean and well maintained 

Written by Mr Lost and Found Traveller

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Categories: City Guides- Sleep | Eat | Play, United KingdomTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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