Nat’s Travels; Finally ticking Stonehenge off the List
I have wanted to go to Stonehenge for as long as I can remember, and I can’t say that about many places in the UK. But as it’s in the UK, I’ve never quite found the time. It’s a long way to go, I’ve never been anywhere that I could do it ‘on the way’ and when I’m in London I’ve never had the chance to explore more than the city. One of those, because I live in the UK I’ve not prioritised it. Weird how you do that, isn’t it? But after I had completely explored Mexico, I decided that this year back in the UK I would see this ancient wonder. And I’m happy to say I managed to see it in less than two months of being back.
Just A Small Detour
The chance to make the effort to see Stonehenge came rather quickly after being back; my parents were going for a holiday in Dorset and me and the other half had been invited to join. So after a quick look at the map we realised that making the detour to Stonehenge would only add about an hour to the drive, so why not?
And a long drive it was. But even with setting off late me and Dave arrived at around lunch time and so had plenty of time at this UNESCO site.
I was very impressed with how much effort English Heritage have put into this site, but I guess it’s their most popular attraction. Lots of facilities, a free audio guide, a free shuttle to the henge itself and a small museum. Outside there were also replicas of the builders’ houses and a stone that you could ‘try’ to move – with just one person, no chance!
The museum was small, but interesting. Stonehenge wasn’t actually the first monument on this site. There were little models to show the development of the site through the years. There were also various bits and pieces that had been found nearby and quotes about Stonehenge from famous people. I doubt many people go into the museum, but instead just head to the main attraction, which is a bit of a shame.
The Main Attraction
One in the English Heritage area, there are two ways to get to the henge itself, walk or get the free shuttle. I love a good walk, but as I was on a time restraint i decided to take the shuttle there with the plan to walk back. It only took a few minutes to get to the henge on the shuttle.
From the drop off point a path leads around the henge. There are signs filled with information and lots of audio guide points. I read and listened to every bit. I like to learn about the place I am visiting. Although the general theme with all the information is “We don’t actually know anything for sure” it’s still interesting.
I was amazed that Stonehenge wasn’t actually that crowded. There were quite a few people, but it wasn’t as ridiculous as I feared. It was a weekday in June, so no school holidays. It meant I could get some unrestricted views of the henge and fully appreciate it. The rooks flying around certainly added to the atmosphere.
One bit I did find very interesting was the way the sun sets and rises on the solstices. During the summer solstice, if you were to stand in the centre of the monument, the sun rises to the left of the Heel Stone. It is believed that there were more stones like the Heel Stone, forming the “avenue”, so the light would come straight down this avenue. At midwinter the sun sets directly opposite this, between two stones of the tallest sarsen trilithon. It’s amazing how well it is aligned. Not well, in fact, perfectly. And many people still come here to celebrate the solstices. It’s definitely an experience I want to go back for.
A Full Circuit
I didn’t rush going round Stonehenge, I stopped and sat for awhile. I read everything, I listened to all the audio guide – included the little extra bits. But all too soon I had completed the circuit. With plenty of time I walked back through the fields. Happy that I had finally ticked this monument of my ever growing list.