I ask you: what trip to England would be complete without going to the ancient stone circle, Stonehenge? If you’re smirking, or thinking “how predictable,” that’s pretty much what I thought before I went there. I mean its over-priced, touristy as heck, and there are hoards of people. But you kind of have to go. Even if it’s just to have that picture of you in front of the stones smiling awkwardly while fellow tourists photo-bomb you. What I didn’t expect? To actually like it.
I had a similar experience when we visited the Lincoln memorial a few years ago. I thought, “ok, I’ve seen thousands of pictures of it, how great can it really be?” Turns out, pretty stunning. I don’t know exactly what it is, maybe the symmetry of the stones, maybe the lighting was just right that day, maybe there’s some kind of Celtic magic at play, who knows!
(squinting because it was so windy)
It was also my 30th birthday! I can honestly say I would’ve never thought I’d be doing something so cool on my 30th, or any birthday for that matter. Wasn’t looking forward to the big 3-0, but being here did make it less traumatic. Obviously you can’t get right up to the stones, its all roped off. This is as close are you can get.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the Wiltshire countryside (the location of Stonehenge). It looks like a period Jane Austen piece. We drove from Bath to Stonehenge and there were sheep grazing everywhere! We were also there at a great time of year, (end of May) so all the fields were still green and the flowers were blooming.
We also went to Avebury, another ancient stone circle (because one is not enough). This one is way more interactive because you can actually touch the stones and walk around them. Avebury is an English Heritage site and is free entry (except for parking). This is just a portion of the circle, because Avebury is much larger (circumference-wise) than Stonehenge.
As you can see, the countryside around Avebury is simply perfect. Low, rolling hills, and on the day we went there was a pleasant breeze. On a side note, there’s a lot of stinging nettle around the site, so be careful! I had my first encounter with stinging nettle here and I barely even touched it!
We wandered around the village of Avebury a bit and stumbled upon St. James church. This church dates back to 1000AD! The nave is Saxon, and the aisles are Norman. One of my favorite things about England is how you can just stumble upon sites like this that are still in use. Living in the Western United States we don’t get that sense of living with history and being connected to the past that you do in other countries. We also noticed that in Avebury, as with a lot of villages throughout England, dogs are allowed in the pub! Our dog Otis would love that.
Read about out first stop in England here!