My experience visiting the ancient Stonehenge.
I first went to Stonehenge on my first visit to England in 2010 (6 years ago next month). I was driving from London to Exeter with my sister and I was concentrating on the road when my sister let out a screech.
I was certain we were about to die – not actually the only time on that trip I thought we were going to die, but that’s another story for another day. My sister was pointing at something in the distance – it was a big pile of rocks… it was only Stonehenge!
It was near the end of the day but we decided that we would go for a visit, you know, since we were already in the neighbourhood. So we parked, rugged up (it was a bit chilly), paid our entry fee and off we went through the underpass for a short walk to and around these rocks in the middle of a field.
Fast forward five years and I was there again in August 2015, only this time it was a) planned; b) with a different travel companion; c) early in the day; and d) you had to pay for parking.
There was also a fancy new official visitor centre, located about two kilometres from the stones. Once you’ve paid your entry fee, you can either walk down the long straight road to Stonehenge itself or jump in the frequent shuttle bus – we chose the latter obviously. You are then suppose to walk around the stones in a clockwise way listening to the provided audio guide but for some reason, the way the path goes, it’s easier to go the opposite way. We weren’t the only people to walk the wrong way around the stones but it did get a bit awkward at times.
Stonehenge attracts a lot of people. On both visits, despite the weather, there were a number of people already at the rocks. Last year, we had arrived not long after the centre opened so I was surprised to find the carpark was pretty full and quite a few people there already.
Now that I’ve been to Stonehenge a couple of times, I honestly don’t feel the need to visit again. I mean don’t get me wrong – it is a pretty amazing site but there are only so many times you can look at a pile of rocks in the middle of a field and it’s always going to be a pile of rocks in the middle of a field.
Comparing the first time and this most recent visit, I have to say that I think Stonehenge has gotten even more commercial. The Visitor Centre has a lot of different things going on: there is a cafe; large shop where you can buy a whole heap of Stonehenge paraphernalia (yes I am now an owner of some of that paraphernalia!) and other displays relating to the area but I just found it all very ‘touristy’, for lack of a better word.
Oh and I really did object to paying a parking fee when you have to pay £15.50 for entrance if you’re not a member of English Heritage. Yes the fee is refundable when you pay your entry fee but I do think that it is a bit excessive.
I remember the first time I saw Stonehenge and feeling a little underwhelmed – they were smaller than I expected them to be. In saying that, you can’t help but wonder how exactly they were put there. I understand the significance of the stones and the place they have in English history, however I do think that overall the whole experience doesn’t really add value to seeing the stones in person. That’s probably just me though.
I think that Stonehenge is one of those places that you have to see once, just because it is a significant part of the world’s history. But I do really think that once is enough for the average person.
Here are some more photos of some rocks in the middle of a field…
Have you been to Stonehenge?
What did you think of the rocks?
Would you recommend the attraction to others?