11/13/11 - Sunday - Stonehenge

There are a lot of mixed reviews of  Stonehenge, but I think it is all about what you are trying to get out of it. If you think it is just a big pile of rocks then it will be just a big pile of rocks. If you go in with an open mind and let yourself experience it fully, it is truly something to behold. I thought it was fantastic and after three trips to the UK I was finally able to make it on this the fourth trip.

We planned it pretty well and thought the day was a success. I would highly recommend staying overnight in the area if possible. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Stonehenge in Solstice Park. It is about 3.5 miles from the sight and as far as we could tell the closest hotel. Solstice Park is pretty strange because it is a little area of American export. There is a KFC, a Pizza Hut and a Holiday Inn. Which pretty much grosses me out, but hey it was close.

Seeing the site at either the beginning or the end of the trip would be best since it is only about an hour and half from London,where most people fly into and out of. Staying overnight allows you to get there right when it opens which if you ask me is an imperative. Stonehenge is open just about everyday from 930am - 400pm. They don't open the parking lot until 9am so if you get there before that you will have to park down the lane until you can get into the parking lot. A lot of people will tell you to just park down the lane and go look at it through the fence (which you can take pictures over) but I think it is worth it to go inside the area. Some say you can't get much closer, but that isn't exactly true. There is one area which is very close and the path kind of winds around it giving you prime picture taking areas. The reason why it is roped off now is because people had started to graffiti it and were always trying to take pieces with them, so really we have no one to blame but our fellow man for it being blocked off. Way back when they used to even rent hammers and chisels so you could knock a piece off as a souvenir. There is also an option to go inside the stone circle. You have to sign up way in advance and send in an application and get a confirmation. Unfortunately they do not allow these inner visits in November, fail. These visits are before it opens at 645am and 800am, or right after close. The visits last for an hour and the group is limited to 26 people. I was pretty bummed to find out they weren't available when we were going to be there. I think that would be breathtaking.


Stonehenge is in fact an optical illusion. When you drive over the hill to get there, you see it across the way on a hill opposite you and it just appears and looks massive, almost cartoon massive. It was surprising to say the least. After you see this at the crest of the hill you start to descend towards the bottom and for the right turn onto the road that Stonehenge is on. As you get closer and closer it actually gets "smaller" which is really not that small, considering the rocks are huge, but it does look smaller than it did on the hill. We noticed this and then they mentioned it in the audio guide.

We were the second ones let into the park. I have to say this was a pretty nice luxury because it meant most of our pictures were without people in them and you could really spent some alone time going around and absorbing and listening to the guide. The history is just fascinating and they are finding more and more every year. They now believe that there was a processional road (a massive avenue) between Stonehenge and Woodhenge, which if true is pretty amazing for 2500 B.C.  Woodhenge is about 3 miles away by road but only about  a mile away over the fields. We went to Woodhenge earlier in the morning before Stonehenge. You just let yourself in to this corral and walk around. I am pretty sure most people don't go there. It is an area that used to have huge wooden stakes they believe used to hold up a roof. They have almost memorialized it with small cement posts where the wooden ones used to be. Basically they found the remnants of it when they were tilling this field. It was another nice spot with rolling hills.

We spent about 45 minutes to an hour walking around Stonehenge, listening and taking pictures. I sat for a few and did some meditation on the way out. By that time the crowds had started to arrive. From what the people working there told us, all of the bus tours from London arrive around the same time, 1015-1030 because it takes about an hour and a half. For a Sunday in November I couldn't believe how many people showed up in that first wave as we were leaving. I was thankful again that we had arrived right when they opened. I can't imagine what it would be like in high season like say August, it must be packed!  See pictures below. I wish I had been able to get one of all the people walking around the site when we were leaving. Massive crowds.

Crowds arriving by bus. 


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