It had always been on Art’s list of places to see before you die. It was on mine as well, I’ll admit, but it wasn’t as high up on the priority list. Always the opportunist, though, when I noticed that it was possible to take a side trip to Stonehenge on the way from London to board the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton, I decided that it was now or never. And so we made the pilgrimage to Stonehenge.
As we drove through the countryside from London, our driver waxed rapturously about the “feeling” of standing there near the stones of unknown origin (make no mistake, despite what you’ve read, no one really knows why they were placed there. Indeed, the Druid connection has actually been disproven, information that came as a surprise to me and that alien theory – the scholars don’t believe it!). The fact that the stones were brought somehow from far afield is, however, impressive. The driver called it eerie, unusual and unique; so we were ready to be wowed.
We parked in the designated parking lot across the road from the stone circle which is widely enclosed by a chain-link fence. We then walked to the entrance which led to an underground pedestrian walkway (actually under the road) so that no cars came close to the site. After picking up our audio-self-tour headsets (a necessity if you really want to learn anything at all), we made our way to the first stop on the audio-tour. It was early in the day (highly recommended) so that there were few others around. This is the best way to experience these places in my opinion. By the time we were leaving about an hour later, the place was really filling up (that was 11 am).
So we did the tour around the circle. And we waited for the “feeling.” I’m sorry to say that the tour was very interesting, but to tell you the truth, we were all (wife, husband, 22-year-old son) underwhelmed by the experience. We never really did feel the mysticism and we were very surprised at how small the stones really are. I’m not sure what we expected, but this wasn’t it. That said, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the experience.
Discerning travelers that we are, we booked this private tour/transfer through the online service London Tool-Kit which I used twice on this trip. It’s an aggregator for a wide variety of service providers. Paid for in advance, the private tour began at our hotel in London and took the detour to Stonehenge on the Salisbury plain on the way to Southampton. The drive to Stonehenge (almost 90 miles west of London) takes just under 2 hours. The drive from Stonehenge to the cruise terminal in Southampton was an hour.