Myself and my partner in crime AP recently visited Stonehenge, its in Wiltshire which is not actually too far from where we live so we thought it would be rude not to go for a look, get another thing ticked off the bucket list..
Now let me start by saying it was not exactly how I had expected, I realise that it needs to be protected, and so its fallen into the hands of English Heritage, but this also means that they need to make money from all the visitors to maintain and secure it. But I genuinely thought it would be a bunch of stones, in the middle of nowhere that you could walk to, have a look.
We arrived in the free carpark which was huge and located right next to a big building which we thought was the enhance to Stonehenge – well it kind of .. it was called the visitor centre, and its where you purchase tickets. We thought the tickets were just for a bus which takes you to the stones (which I later found they do for £15) heres the link to buy tickets.
So myself and AP naively decided to walk to the stones for free instead (so we thought), it was a beautiful day and we walked through the surrounding National Trust fields and woodland, which took us around an hour, and I was really excited when we got to the end of the road and could see the stones.. and also a car parked up selling fresh stawberries, yum, but we also saw a que and then a fenced off entrance..
As we approached we could see that Stonehenge was fenced around, and the only entrance was to get in the que, so we did, and as we got the the front we realised that people were handing over tickets.
Well there was no way we were walking all the way back for a ticket, so we asked if we could buy one at the entrance to the stones.. nope, they didn’t sell them there, damn. However the ticket collector obviously felt sorry for us and told us we could walk through a nearby field which took us up to the edge of the fence, and as we took the path we could see it was a path well worn! tonnes of people obviously take this shortcut to get a glimpse of the stones – I mean look at the photos, we weren’t that far away!
Besides, the stones themselves had rope all the way around, so you could not get close-even if you paid for the entry! So basically to sum it up, unless you paid the £28 for Entry & a Bus ticket then you didn’t get access to the stones.. which for me would ruin the experience as the bus trip looked like pretty uneventful 10 minute trip down a straight road, and you could not get that close to the stones anyway.
Well the stones themselves were pretty incredible as some stones in a field go… they looked exactly like the pictures, apart from you cant really envision how big the stones actually are. It raised alot of questions for me, how did they get there? and why? being the main ones, unfortunately I don’t think any of the history buffs are 100% sure why, which kind of adds to the charm and mystery of the place. Did I feel spiritual? well kind of, the surroundings, nature, good company and weather all contributed to my great mood though, I cant imagine feeling to spiritual if it had been raining..
I was pretty happy with our visit, I got to see what all the fuss was about, and I can say I have been there and tick it off my list.
I think the visitor centre is a great idea for foreign tourist that have traveled from afar and need things translated, or people who want a more in-depth tour of the history as the visitor centre had loads of resources such as audio tours and a museum. As demonstrated by AP it even had a few huts which are replicas of the huts which you could walk around, they believe they would have lived like this in back in the days when Stonehenge was created. Also the bus is fantastic for elderly,kids or disabled people (but you could jut drive your car up the public road if you wanted)
But for me, a local Somerset girl who just wanted a peek at a local monument, taking a long walk through the countryside and exploring the area and the stones for myself was perfect.
I appreciate what the National Trust, and English Heritage do for our landmarks and histroical monuments, and so I did make a small donation to the National Trust when I got home, which you can do by clicking here, there was also a lovely Cafe at the visitor centre, along with a gift shop.. which strangely you could by anything Stonehenge shaped, including chocolate bars, puzzles and tea towels, crazy stuff.
Would I go again?
Because its so close to me yes, I would definitely go back in summer and take a picnic for the long walk this time. However for most tourists I guess this would be a one hit wonder, especially at the time and expense they have to go to, once you have seen it – you can tick it off the list and move on to the next (probably why English Heritage charge so much, probably not much repeat business there..)
Have you ever been to Stonehenge? if not, I hope this gives you some kind of an idea about what to expect!