This and That

Random bits of my life

Stonehenge

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 27, 2012

Stonehenge

This posting is a bit late because Stonehenge was one of the first things I did on this trip. I arrived at Luton airport on Sunday morning, on time (believe it or not), found my taxi driver, and reached Heathrow in 40 minutes. To my surprise, Shalom’s flight was still unloading bags and I had to wait about a half hour until he appeared. We picked up the rental car and hit the road. Getting to Stonehenge wasn’t very difficult, even after we accidentally got on the M4 instead of the M3. I adjusted my plan so we went past Slough and Maidenhead, turned south at Reading on the A33 at Basingstoke, joined the M4 and continued along the A303, turned off past Amesbury, and continued along A344 to Stonehenge.

Piece of cake. Gorgeous weather with great clouds and sunlight. Was that clouds or crowds? There were a lot of tourists. The setting on the Salisbury Plain is stunning, with rolling downs on all sides. The parking lot is in a field (large enough to accommodate buses; it reminded me of Meron on Lag be’Omer).

We stayed about an hour and I took some postcard shots of Stonehenge. Although it’s smaller than you might imagine, it’s still an impressive site. It’s also a challenge to get a good angle that shows the stones and doesn’t have scores of tourists in the background. You can’t get very close to the stones. You’re restricted to a path that runs around the edge of the site (in my husband’s day they were allowed to climb on the stones, but that was a long time ago). A free audio guide is available.

Postcard shot of Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Salisbury Plain

Salisbury Crows

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

About 50 pagans arrived in costume with drums for a ceremony at 5 p.m. They were just getting started as we left.

Local pagans

Local Pagan

Seen in the Stonehenge gift shop:

Sheep Droppings in Stonehenge Shop

The real problem began when we tried finding crop circles. Crop circles aren’t easy to spot on the ground from a car and they aren’t always clearly marked on Google maps. I think we went past the Yarnsbury Castle crop circle (the castle itself is no longer standing). To make a very long story short, we got stuck on the A303 and it was hours before we were able to find a roundabout to turn around. I jumped out of the car a few times, waving my map and asking for directions. People were very helpful, but the clearest answer was, “Best place to turn around is Stonehenge. Soon as you see the country looking real pretty, you turn around. Otherwise you’re stuck with it until you get to Exeter.” Um, gee, thanks. I’m sure Devon is lovely at this time of year but it was a bit farther than we intended.

Salisbury Plain

The whole countryside was very beautiful and the weather was superb. It looked like a Turner landscape. But I was starting to worry about how long Shalom could continue driving after a long trip from Israel. In the end we managed to turn around at Wincanton, about 150 miles southwest of London. At least it stays light very late at this latitude and the weather and scenery were stunning. Shalom thinks he spotted the Yarnsbury Castle circle some distance after Stonehenge but I’m not positive. We couldn’t get a very good look at it from the opposite side of the road, moving along at 70 mph. An accident on the M25 slowed us down to a crawl. Eventually we got to Staines, I jumped out several times to ask directions across the Stains bridge because London A-Z doesn’t cover that area. It’s a good thing English is my first language. England has a bewildering range of accents (like the three guys running an Indian restaurant who were all trying to answer me at once).

We got to the hotel. Shalom hadn’t brought any kosher food, so I gave him half a can of tuna (I’d only brought one), crackers, a container of instant noodles, and a granola bar. He repaid me with a bottle of beer from the bar. The Runnymede-on-Thames is a posh hotel, certainly by my standards! I’ve never slept on so many feathers in my life — feather comforter, feather mattress pad, FOUR feather pillows (the bed is probably queen-size).

Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel

The hotel backs onto the Thames and you can walk along the Thames River path and see the locks.

Bell Weir, Thames

Ducks at the Bell Weir.

Ducks on Bell Weir, Thames

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6 Responses to “Stonehenge”

  1. Miriyummy said

    Stonehenge was one of my holy grails and I finally got to see it in 2005. Thanks for the revisit!

  2. I like the very first photo with the Stonehenge in silhouette and a very strong sky. Hope to go there soon and also take photos of the place.

  3. WONDERFUL pictures! I STILL can’t believe I was in the UK for 2 years, and didn’t see this, or a good number of other things 😦 Ahhh, the life of a poor low-ranking Airman and the exchange rate in the late 80s πŸ™‚ One of these days, I’ll get back…

  4. pam said

    Honestly these are the most dramatic and stunning images of Stonehenge. Of course you were blessed with the sky and light on your visit – but you certainly made the most of them. I have bookmarked this post and put it in a special folder I go to I call it “escape for a while”. Thank you for all your hard work.

  5. […] Architect, a UML tool. I was sent to the UK for a four-day course this summer (with a side trip to Stonehenge) to learn the […]

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