Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day Trip: Stonehenge, UK

Actual date of this event: 21 July

Stonehenge.... it's one of those really really really old things. And it's like, (cue valley girl voice) "Oh, how totally rad! These stones have been here for like... a really long time. Like so much history!!!" Yes, true. But folks, its a bunch of stones stuck in the ground.

So this was my experience at Stonehenge.
We arrived from the west on the A303 around noon and did not have too much traffic from this direction. I only tell you this because coming from the East we saw lots and lots of traffic. That is because the road goes down to one lane, and there is also a pretty awesome little view of the stones going down a little hill. So take your pick: no traffic & no view or traffic & view?

Currently, the site is building a visitor centre pretty far away from the stones - probably about half a mile. I have no idea why they are building it so far away and I have no idea how they will transport people to the stones. I guess we will all find out when they are finished. Anyway, rather than parking in the car park with the other cars, we parked on a dirt road which, if you get to the right spot, can get a good view of the stones from a short distance... without paying a pence (hehe)... but your view also has tons of people in it.

Moving on, we waited probably about 15-20 minutes in line before paying the entry fee. Here is some info you might want to know before driving to the middle of no where for some rocks.

The free audio guide told us a bunch of information about when the rocks were put there and who put them there and why they put them there and information about the surrounding area. I'm going to be honest with you, I had a hard time following most of it so I can't give you much detail about what the guide told me. But I did take a picture of the sign that gives a very brief explanation, so I can read that whenever I want to remember what Stonehenge is all about.
There was a rope that surrounded the stones and the closest that anyone could get without breaking the rules was maybe 50 feet. It was unfortunate that we couldn't get closer, but it is probably better that way. There would be way too many people within the stone circle, kids would be climbing them, people would lean against them. If all of that happened, the historical site would be in ruins... more than it is.

 It was really really really windy. We had to do about four takes before getting a shot with somewhat tame hair.

These next two pictures show one of the only things I remember from the audio guide. You can see in the center of the picture three arches. During the summer solstice, the sun shines right through the center arch. Apparently, for the summer and winter solstice, thousands of people gather at Stonehenge to witness the purpose of the stones' placement in action.

The Heel Stone lies outside of the stone circle. Apparently, if you are standing inside the circle, you can watch the sun rise over the Heel Stone during the summer solstice. It is approximately 16 feet tall, leans toward the stone circle, and is located at the end of Stonehenge Avenue (which is aligned with the sunrise of the summer solstice).
It was pretty difficult to get a shot without a person somewhere in the picture. It was pretty packed, but as you moved around the ring (which is about a quarter of a mile long), the people spread out a bit more. We completed the tour in about 1-1.5 hours.

So, I am sure I made this sound totally boring and totally not worth it, and I am sounding TOTALLY ungrateful. I wouldn't say that, about the boring and not worth it. You can say I am ungrateful if you want. There just isn't anything else in the area to do, so you go all this way for rocks. If you are fine with driving out to see some big rocks, then awesome! We visited on our way back to London from Bath, so luckily it wasn't out of our way (we planned it that way), and the sun was out... although hot. Our experience could have been much much worse. If only you could get closer to the stones... and it wasn't out in the middle of nowhere.

Have you been to Stonehenge? What was your experience like?


  1. There are books (fiction, of course) that deal with the Standing Stone Circles. They are supposedly magic at certain times. In the books at those times, you can go back in time. As example, Diana Gabaldon wrote a whole series of fiction books called The Outlander Series. They are historical and great read!

    1. Those books are massive! There is no way I could sit down and read them. Maybe in the Winter I will have some time to read.

  2. Day 2 of disappointment. Get your (random) facts straight, Debbie ;-) And to echo Mama up there, I've heard the Outlander series are great, just have to get past the Scottish lingo!

    1. I'd have a more difficult time getting past the 8,000 pages!

  3. I've heard that Stonehenge is a bit anti-climatic but that the most disappointing part is that you can't get up close and personal with the stones and it's always crowded. It does make for some pretty awesome photo ops, though! I've heard from others that the standing stone circles are more worthwhile because you can actually go into them and usually have the whole place to yourself. As your Mom said, The Outlander series goes into these a bit more:) I'm hoping to see some on our upcoming tour of western Scotland, though I've heard there are a few near Aberdeen.

    1. Yes, I had some spots on my Inverness trip last year, but we never stopped. I think cuz it was just one stone and we were thinking we didn't have time to drive 5 miles out of the way to see one stone... and we really didn't have any time. It would be fun to scavenger hunt for Standing Stones though!


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