Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Shkodra, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans, June 13-24!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Our visit to Stonehenge

We said goodbye to Julie and the pups at around 10:00am. First stop was at a computer service and repair shop just as we were leaving the town of Wellington.

Last year when we bought new laptops in Norway, we kept our old ones. Mine was still working fine, except that the battery was done. And the casing on Ruth's was falling apart, although it still worked as well.

We've been trying to get rid of them, but we didn't just want to give them away. We had stopped in to one place a couple of weeks ago, and he said he would take them for parts, but wasn't willing to give any money. I knew that someone would give us something for them, but we were running out of time and want to get rid of them as we're trying to get rid of all the excess stuff we've collected over the last two year, as tends to happen.

Anyhow, this guy gave us £30 ($51 CAD, $38 USD) cash for them, and we were quite happy with that.

Another thing out of the way.

Then it was off to Stonehenge. 

Google maps said it was about an hour and forty five minutes to do the 71 mile (114 km) drive. Mostly on Highway A303 in England, which is a bit of a mess. The traffic is really heavy, and they're trying to widen some sections.

Very congested.

But, we had lots of time and were in no rush so you just deal with it.

We had left the computer store at 10:30am and we made it to the Stonehenge parking lot at 1:15pm.

Two hours and forty five minutes.

We had some lunch and decided to wait until later in the afternoon to go see the stones so there wouldn't be so many people.

What they think the houses looked like 3,000 years ago.

With the modern Stonehenge visitors center in the background.

We've driven by Stonehenge several times in the past. Highway A303 runs right beside it, and that's the major route west from London's Heathrow or Gatwick to Helen and Tony's place. And you can see the stones right from the highway. (Which causes even more congestion!)

But we've never stopped in. Ruth says she was there during one of her family visits to England about fifty years ago when you could still get right up to the stones.

Now, it costs £23.60 ($40.40 CAD, $30 USD) per adult if you just walk up and pay cash. You can save 10% by booking online in advance. Or, you can get in by showing your English Heritage cards, which we purchased last year when we were in England.

Or, you can see them totally for free. More on that below.

We went into the Visitors Center Exhibition Hall. There are a few museum type artifacts that have been discovered in the area, and they go into some detail about what life was like when the stones were put there 3,000 or so years ago. Be aware that some of the "artifacts" are replicas, which bugs me. I have no interest in seeing a replica. I want to see the real thing!

And then we walked over to the main attraction, the Stonehenge Circle.

It's located about 2.0 kms (1.2 miles) one way and you can either walk or take a bus. You can guess our choice, but we were pleasantly surprised by the number of people who were walking. 

It's haying season in this part of England

You can choose to walk the distance on the road which is only used by the tourist buses, or through the fields which is slightly longer.

There was an ominous black cloud hanging above the rocks. 
It was actually pretty cool!

Zoomed in.

As you get closer to the stone circle, there is an intersection located less than 100 yards away. It's the intersection of where the tourist bus road meets a gravel farm road that runs off the main highway. There are quite a few motorhomes parked along this road because it's listed on the motorhoming Park4Night app. But regular tourists wouldn't normally know about it so there were very few actual cars.

I spoke to the English Heritage girl checking tickets at the circle and she confirmed that yes, anybody can actually drive there right off the main highway and park minutes away from the main attraction rather than using the main visitors center parking area 2 kms away. And yes, you can stay overnight in your motorhome. 

It's a bit of a potholed road, especially at the entrance, but obviously people do it.

Then, you can get fairly close to the monument without even having a ticket. Certainly close enough that you wouldn't pay the money to get a few yards closer if you were given the choice.

And, without a ticket you wouldn't get into the exhibition at the visitors center, but we only spent about twenty minutes in there and of course all of the info is available online anyhow.

All that aside, the stones are very cool... but it's a bit overhyped in my opinion. 

This is about as close as you would be able to get without buying a ticket.

Or you can get this close with a ticket.

Backlit shot.

There are several other minor attractions in the same vicinity.

There are quite a few of these circular mounds.

Glad we went, but also glad it didn't cost us anything more than what we paid for the English Heritage card almost a year ago.  Had we not had the English Heritage card, we would have done the totally free Stonehenge experience. To us, paying full price is not good value for money.

Some of the vans and motorhomes. You can see the stone circle on the right.

We could have parked overnight where the other vans and motorhomes were, but as I said the road is full of potholes and they were full of water and mud. It just didn't seem worth it. Plus, there was quite a lot of garbage being left behind by some of these van life people, and we didn't want to look like we were part of the problem. I found us a great quiet spot by a park in a nearby village 5 miles (8 kms) away.

Today, we have woken up to a totally clear blue sky for the first time in probably two months. And the expected high is 25C (77F). Wonderful.

We're headed to London's Heathrow Airport to pick up grandson Cameron this evening. I have booked us a parking spot at a pub that is walking distance to the terminal, for only £6 per night. Max will be parked there for three nights while we take grandson Cameron on a tour of the city.

The forecast for the next three days is perfect!

24" Smart TV. Super cheap!

And in Canada...

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