When Dave suggested that we each pick a bucket list item in the UK as something for us both to look forward to, and focus on as we got ourselves out the rut we’d both ended up in, my thoughts immediately wandered to the mystical Stonehenge. I used to go down to Cornwall a lot with my family, and we always used to go around Salisbury, synonymous with Stonehenge, yet I never caught a glimpse of this magical site. (I later found out that I had been to Stonehenge when I was very little, but I definitely had no memory of it!)
I’ve always been fascinated by ancient history, having studied Classical Civilisations at college – I even remember my favourite topic at first school being the Romans and the Celts – add to that my love of fantasy and anything remotely magical, and Stonehenge had entrenched itself firmly in my imagination. My mum once told me about the magic of Stonehenge and its pillars; if you were to walk underneath the biggest ‘arch’ of Stonehenge, you would be transported to another universe, a completely different world. I think I must have been a little girl when she told me because it still holds that innocent trace of awe and wonder when I think about it. More recently, mum was telling me about a book she was reading where places like Stonehenge acted as time portals, and a similar portal was at the bottom of Loch Ness, and good old Nessie was really a dinosaur that occasionally wandered back through the time portal. It’s magical, fantastical, and I love it.
As such, I was a little nervous about what it would be like to see the place surrounded by the myriad of tourists that flock to the Salisbury Plains everyday to walk around this very special place. I also remember going to Glastonbury Tor, and whilst I don’t know enough about ley lines to go into any kind of detail, I do know that both the Tor and Stonehenge are at major crossings of these points of the Earth’s energy, and there was a real sense of that at Glastonbury Tor. Even if you don’t believe in anything spiritual about these sites, I really think the Earth has some kind of energy that is bound to be stronger in some places more than others. But, humanity has a tendency to deaden these things somewhat, so I was hoping for at least a quiet day.
We travelled down on the bike, which was a fantastic move as we were able to filter past a good hour’s worth of queuing traffic! The new visitor’s centre had recently opened, and we had heard mixed reviews as it was located quite a distance from Stonehenge itself, but we like a good walk and it was a lovely spring day. The flow of the visitor’s centre works really well we thought, it’s quite open to the air but well sheltered, so you still feel like you’re out in the plains but in a good way. There is a small exhibition of the artefacts discovered on the site, with an interesting circular projection room which makes you feel like you’re standing in the centre of Stonehenge, watching the millennia fly past you in a beautiful time-lapse.
There is a walk to Stonehenge from the centre, but there is also a shuttle service. This was still having teething problems as they created the roundabout turning point at the other end, but I’m sure that’s all sorted by now. The Salisbury Plains are a beautiful place to walkabout, and I’d love to go back one day soon and do some proper walks, but I was much too excited to get to Stonehenge. The stones are hidden from view for a long time, and even though your first sight is swarmed by tourists, it was as breathtaking for me as I had expected. The road travels past Stonehenge giving you a wonderful view to tease you in, and I’ll be honest, I got a little choked up seeing the magnificent stones up on the rise as we drove in. The path takes you right the way round the circle, bringing you in close to appreciate the massive size of the structure, as well as taking you further away to take in the circle as a whole, and also means you can get some good photos without bright red raincoats in the way (sorry Dad!)
I’ll be honest, I was hoping to be able to articulate my thoughts and feelings of being at this magical place a little better than this, but maybe my gibbering and amateur iPhone photos can help you understand what a truly special places this is, and is really beyond words. It is an amazing place to be, and should be on everyone’s bucket list at some time or another.
The Vintage Housewife x