Revisiting Stonehenge, again

Years ago, I lived near Stonehenge. It was one of those places that we visited regularly. Especially when friends came to stay. One of the advantages of being local, was that you knew the best time to visit. I’m not sure if it was a well kept secret, but during the winter months, on one day a week, you could go right up to the stones. No barriers.

(My mother and my two sisters in the middle of Stonehenge – December 1984)

There was a little wooden shed among the stones, which an official sheltered from the weather and was on hand to answer questions. I guess also to make sure we didn’t damage the old stones. I think that is snow in the background.

This was Stonehenge to me.

Years later, I visited the stones again, with my husband, over several summer solstices. Carrying a babe in a sling and holding tight to the hand of our toddler. Again, we could go right up to the stones. It was a different experience. Instead of a few hardy locals, now the stones were thronging with masses of people and noise. Drums, singing and horns. Everyone waiting for the sun to rise. It was different, to say the least, but the stones were still the stones.

It has been a few years, but this weekend we took all three children to Stonehenge. First time we had seen the new visitor centre. Very different. We parked up and headed to the centre. It is run by English Heritage. National Trust and English Heritage members can go in free. The £5 parking fee is waived too. It is refunded for everyone when they buy the entrance ticket to the site.

There is a fleet of shuttle buses that must spend all day, busing people to and from the centre to the stones. Alternatively, you can walk the 1 and a half miles, as we did, over the Stonehenge Landscape route.

It became a competition. Who would see Stonehenge first. The younger two raced each other. It was so funny watching them. Every now and again, they would try to push the other one off the path, to gain an advantage. I don’t think they noticed how far we walked, or ran, in their case. I think this is the best way to reach the Stones.

A low rope fence shows visitors where to walk, but is ground hugging enough not to intrude on the view. We walked around the stones, but never among them. There were a lot of people going round, but not enough to feel crowded. No problem getting a family photo in front of the stones.

I couldn’t help chuckling at how many people walked around with their backs to the stones. Taking selfies of themselves in front of the stones. That was different. I wonder if they turned round and saw them for real.

Back at the visitors’ centre, we went round the museum which gives a wonderful surround experience as if you are standing in the middle of the stones, through the ages. Going back, to see it with all the stones in place. Also artifacts dug up. Setting the scene.  Answering questions.

Including how many friends you would need to bring along to help you move one of those great, big stones.

I loved going back again. It was different, but the stones were still the stones.

I’ll go again, I’m sure. We will probably drag the children back to see the sunrise sometime soon, for the summer Solstice, because everyone needs to do that once. Or maybe more.

Linking up to #CountryKids. Have you been out and about recently?

Country Kids


 

37 thoughts on “Revisiting Stonehenge, again

    • Saturday 25 February, 2017 at 12:43 pm
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      It was a good day.

  • Saturday 25 February, 2017 at 8:57 am
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    What a different experience from then and now. I think this is partly why I just grab a window snap from the car in passing now, I have fond memories of wandering between the stones as a child. I love the excitement from your younger ones though, mine would be the same. The visitor centre sounds rather interesting too, none of that was there when I last visited. Lovely to get a feel for how it now works.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    • Saturday 25 February, 2017 at 1:19 pm
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      I’ve been put off for some time going back, for the same reason. I liked the visitor centre more than I thought I would. I think they’ve done a really good job to give so many people the experience, at a very popular location. Pleasantly surprised.

  • Saturday 25 February, 2017 at 10:22 am
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    I really have to visit, I know I should have gone sooner and it’s something I will always regret. At least now I can take my children. The walk to the stones looks pretty flat so I’m hoping I will ok in my wheelchair. Oh, I really want to go now.
    #CountryKids

    • Saturday 25 February, 2017 at 12:29 pm
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      There was someone using a wheelchair, who was taking the same route. Not sure how they got on, as we were trying to keep up with the younger two children. There were no big obstacles or steep paths. Alternatively, I did notice people walking down the road. Same view as the people in the shuttle buses, so I should imagine that it is well thought out. Hope you visit. It really is worth it.

  • Saturday 25 February, 2017 at 10:22 am
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    How amazing to be able to get so close to the stones – I last went just before the new visitor centre opened and looks like they’ve got some great new changes there. #countrykids

    • Saturday 25 February, 2017 at 1:23 pm
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      I think they have done a pretty good job. I was surprised. Everyone can be reasonably close without ruining it for others. It is clever. I loved going back and the museum is a good addition.

  • Saturday 25 February, 2017 at 2:44 pm
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    Love those photos spanning eras! And as you say, the stones are still the stones. Your article is encouraging me to visit the ‘new look’ Stonehenge. I’m glad your family enjoyed their visit.

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 11:38 am
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      I was put off going for a while, but I’m glad we went. I think they have done a good job.

  • Saturday 25 February, 2017 at 4:32 pm
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    I’ve only ever visited once and that was only because we had an American friend stay with us and felt that he had to see Stonehenge. Would love to visit again, especially since we are members of English Heritage, but it’s a bit out of the way 😉 My husband also has a photo of him and his family when they were kids near the stones. If I remember it right, they were even sitting on one of them and having a picnic! 😉

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 11:41 am
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      It is wonderful to hear of so many people who enjoyed the stones in the past. I love the idea that your husband’s family stopped for a picnic. Worth going again. Especially if you have membership.

  • Saturday 25 February, 2017 at 7:10 pm
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    My oldest friend lives close by and we’ve visited lot over the years. I too can remember actually walking through the stones as a child. My son loves the visitor centre too, lots to learn and explore isn’t there #CountryKids

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:18 pm
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      I’m glad I’m not the only one that enjoys childhood memories of walking among the stones. The visitor centre is worth exploring. My children enjoyed it, although by that stage we were all feeling hungry. Might spend longer next time.

  • Saturday 25 February, 2017 at 7:20 pm
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    It’s lovely to see the old photograph next to the new ones, it must have been nice to get so close to the stones previously. This is somewhere I’ve never been, only driven past, but must visit properly sometime.

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:18 pm
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      Can recommend a visit. Hope you get there one day.

  • Sunday 26 February, 2017 at 12:17 am
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    I’ve not been to the stones since I was 3 so don’t remember them. The selfie thing is amusing but something that I’d have to do to get in a photo given there’s only myself and N who goes places. #countrykids

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:25 pm
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      Good point about the selfies. I can see if you are on your own that would be a problem. My teen was asked a couple of times if she would take group photos for people. Nothing new in that. It’s a nice thing to do for others. I did end up walking behind a few people chatting to their gadgets and videoing themselves in front of the stones as they walked around. Their backs permanently to the stones, which I found a new experience. I guess we all enjoy it in our own way.

  • Sunday 26 February, 2017 at 9:06 am
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    I remember visiting when you could walk amongst the stones too. Have only been back once with the children, in the snow, very different and much busier experience. I am rather tempted with a solstice visit but not by the early start that it would mean!

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:32 pm
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      If you haven’t been since they put up the new centre, I’d recommend going back. The new set up means that you can get close without feeling as if you are behind a fence. Much better experience for all. The solstice is good fun to go to. Very crowded. Very noisy. All sorts of different people. It is early. If it’s raining, I go back to bed, otherwise we have always made it for the sunrise.

  • Sunday 26 February, 2017 at 1:43 pm
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    It is certainly a very different experience now, but they have definitely made a good job. I took our little lady there in the summer and we had such a lovely time #countrykidsfun

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:35 pm
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      I think they have made a good job of it. Quite clever really. I’m glad you both enjoyed it.

  • Sunday 26 February, 2017 at 10:03 pm
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    I’d love to visit one day, my Dad got to go on a day when you could wander round bare foot amongst the stone special day… not sure what thats called but he says it felt very spiritual! I’d love to take my son to a solstice too. #countrykids

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:38 pm
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      What a fun idea. I’ve not heard of days like that. I hope you do visit one day. The solstice is fun, but very busy and noisy. I used to cover the baby’s ears!

  • Tuesday 28 February, 2017 at 12:16 pm
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    We have never been but it does look amazing…one day

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:38 pm
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      Hope you make it there one day.

  • Tuesday 28 February, 2017 at 3:23 pm
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    Stonehenge is one of those places I haven’t ever visited but would love to go to. It looks amazing. #countrykids

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:41 pm
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      It is amazing to see. You need to go at least once. Nothing like seeing it for real. And to think it was almost lost to the nation at an auction!

  • Tuesday 28 February, 2017 at 3:30 pm
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    It’s funny seeing a photo from the year I was born. Stonehenge is a lovely place, full of intrigue, mystery and a few geocaches. If I visited again I’d be keen to go for Solstice too. #CountryKids

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:47 pm
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      Solstice is fun to go to. It is crowded and noisy, and a very different experience to the one visiting it during the day.

  • Tuesday 28 February, 2017 at 10:33 pm
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    This is so dreamy… heading to an ancient site like Stonehenge… I love it…

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:47 pm
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      I do feel fortunate to live near to so many interesting sites. 🙂

  • Wednesday 1 March, 2017 at 10:31 am
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    I’ve never been to summer solstice at Stonehenge although hubby did one year when we were at university (we were at Southampton so not that far away) and said it was an amazing experience. How lovely that you lived close enough to be able to visit regularly. I remember being able to get closer to the stones on the one visit I made years ago. That walk to the stones looks like a much nicer way of getting to them than the bus – something to remember if we visit again! 🙂 #CountryKids

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:51 pm
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      We went on the bus on the way back, which was a good compromise, as lunch was overdue. I think walking to the stones was a wonderful way to approach them, as you can’t see them at first.

  • Wednesday 1 March, 2017 at 8:56 pm
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    I’ve driven past, but never properly visited. I think I should do it at least once! Like the idea of walking to the site as well. I’m glad you still enjoyed the stones. #CountryKids

    • Thursday 2 March, 2017 at 1:54 pm
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      The view from the road may not be an option in the future, if plans go ahead. Which ever direction you walk from, I think walking to the stones is the best way to see them. We drove past on the way back, and I had forgotten how slow the traffic gets at that point, as everyone slows to take a look. 🙂

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