Oct 07 2009

England, Day 1: Stonehenge, Longleat, the Vale of the White Horse, Avebury

Category: travelSami @ 4:30 am

So. This morning I woke at 4am, and headed out in time to get to Stonehenge before dawn. Driving through the countryside at dawn is kind of amazing for seeing small creatures at the edges of the light.

Sadly, I did discover that nowadays, Stonehenge kind of sucks, and it’s “closed” until 9:30am. Still, since nowadays you’re not allowed to walk close to the stones or anything, I’m told you see it just as much from the side of the road.

Especially if, as I did, you have a telephoto lens for your camera:

I will say, Stonehenge is a pretty awe-inspiring sight when you come around a curve and suddenly it’s right there – I nearly pitched into a ditch.

So, having walked about a bit, and started the truly impressive collection of mud the footwell of my car has already acquired, and also wanting to get some munchies, I went to the nearby village of Amesbury and did some grocery shopping. My munchies for most of the morning: A pound of the most delicious strawberries I’ve ever tasted, along with a bottle of gold top Jersey/Guernsey cow-sourced milk that was also utterly delicious.

Oh, I also got some delicious local cheese.

After that, I headed for Longleat, the estate and stately home of the Marquess of Bath.

After that I headed back towards my current home base. I went past Stonehenge again, but it was raining really hard so I wasn’t very tempted to stop. However, my trip was temporarily delayed by encountering something I had to stop and photograph – and the rain had by then abated.

This is one of the White Horses around the Vale of the White Horse. Not the coolest, but the one I suddenly found out ahead of me.

After that I went on to Avebury, which is rather one of the world’s best-kept secrets. You see, where Stonehenge is a church, Avebury is a cathedral – two stone circles *and* a whole lot of other stones, that wrap through and around the village centre.

This stone has been there for six thousand years.

This is the path along the hill above the Sun Circle. The surface is chalk. Wet chalk, it turns out, is hideously slick and slippery – I pitched down hard into the hillside, but fortunately didn’t land on nettles or sheep poo.

The rest of the day is rather less interesting, although after a delicious dinner with my uncle, aunt and cousin, I also spoke first to my cousin Mary and then to my cousin Hilda, and have confirmed arrangements for my visiting Scotland next week. I’m going to Edinburgh from Sunday to Wednesday, then to Aberdeenshire and the historic family farm until I head down to Newcastle to catch the ferry to Amsterdam.

Anyway, the full set of today’s photos is here.

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