Of course on my first visit to London the itinerary included a visit to the mysterious Stonehenge. Long a World Heritage site, the theories of the stones have abounded for the ages. Religious, Spiritual, Astrological, Mystical, etc. From “This is Spinal Tap” to a variety of documentaries many have wondered about the stones in the same way folks have theorized the Moai of Easter Island. Some cartoons have featured the Heads of Easter Island with the toes of Stonehenge which is funny to me, having visited both sites. So for Mom’s first trip to England, we had to add “visit Stonehenge” to check off her list, because all of her friends would ask “did you go to Stonehenge?” and we all know absent social media in the senior citizen circles, we’d need photos to show her friends. Mom would need to say “of course I visitied Stonehenge” when she was thinking “um, rocks?”
How to Visit Stonehenge
There are a variety of Stonehenge options – big group, small group, private driver – touch the stones behind the ropes at sunrise and sunset – visit directly or as part of a collection of stops along the way. So deciding what tour is best is a bit tough – for me, I went with price and small group and that was The English Bus Tour, a small family owned tour company. All of the tours are generally a full day or a good chunk of your day out of the city. The English Bus tour would show us a small English village (think thatched roof homes, small cottages and a village to walk through) as well as a stop in Bath for a quick lunch/visit.
For the most part, Stonehenge tours are similiarly priced so you need to decide what works best for you. We were able to roam free at Stonehenge as our tour guide did not accompany us to the stones, we used the audio guides provided in our tour price.
Stonehenge, a World Heritage Site
The weather had started sunny and bright but by the time we reached Stonehenge (at the end of the day), as if on cue, it started to rain and turn cloudy and gloomy. The Stonehenge visitor center (newly built) parking lot was quite empty during our visit (a good thing) so that meant we had no wait for the shuttle to the stones (alternatively you can do the long walk up the road which is nice in the sun but not with Mom and rain). The quick ride through the farm like surroundings dropped us off near the entrance to the stones in the field with the road in the distance. We walked up the road a bit passing boards of information (hard to read in the rain so we would read later).
Your Visit Stonehenge Experience
There are two paths around Stonehenge to begin your journey – with information boards along the way trying to explain the view ahead of you. What’s so very interesting is the light and how it passes through the stones and the shadows created.
When the rains stopped and the sun peeked out the view of the stones continued to change. It’s not magic per se but its feels like a magical or spiritual space, at least to me. I had the same feeling in Easter Island that I was a witness to a piece of history that had special meaning to the residents. Now I can only guess what that was based on the light, the stones positions and how it made me feel to see different views as I walked around. The thought that thousands of years these stones have meant something to groups of people, for us now, it’s history we can only surmise.
Back at the visitor center, you can walk through history with exhibits, buy your Stonehenge souvenirs and enjoy the cafe before the long ride back to London.
Stonehenge – the Moody Photos
The views of Stonehenge are every changing based on the light and angles. For this visit, after the rains, it was cloudy and grey, creating a moody view all around. The grey of the stones mixed with the grey skies and the wheat and green grasses made me more contemplative than a sunny visit may have. With the stones up on the hill you often miss the highway down below but can see the rolled hay across the road.
Visit Stonehenge, Final Thoughts
Mom thought it was cool and wanted her photo here, there and everywhere. She had checked off her “see Stonehenge” box when we arrived with her first glance (gotta love her), while I was looking for something more along the way. Despite having visited Stonehenge in 1988, now as an adult I saw it differently, I had more life to bring context to the “what if” scenarios. It wasn’t a check the box for me or a “but I’ve already been there” moment, I was truly excited to experience Stonehenge. Next time, I might do the touch the stones sunrise or sunset experience. Maybe that’s the magic I need to feel connected to the world. It’s hard to explain but you need to see it for yourself.
Have you visited Stonehenge? What did you think? Magic and Mysterious (like me) or a bunch of rocks (like Mom)?