London Day 6: Salisbury and Stonehenge–beautiful ancient history

It took a while for me to decide which day I preferred: Windemere or Stonehenge. A couple weeks on I know that my first day was my favorite. This day ran a very close second.

I got up early Monday morning to catch a 7:13 train out to Salisbury. Although I snagged a quick breakfast of cold cereal at my hosts’ home, I was still hungry so I bought a banana at the station and then a mocha and raspberry muffin at my next stop.

I had to buy something. With a name like “Pumpkin Cafe Shop” how can I resist?

Since this was my second to last train journey (in England) I got a picture of myself on the train.

That’s my half-asleep-but-thoroughly-excited-to-be-on-a-train face.

I love train travel. I really do. I just wish the US had a system half as good as the UK.

With views like this along the way, how could I not like train travel?

Once I arrived in Salisbury, I walked out of the station and immediately purchased a ticket on the Stonehenge Tour Bus (which I highly recommend) and settled in on the top deck.

The tour bus played a recording that advanced based on the location of the bus. I loved it, absolutely loved it. I learned so much about the town of Salisbury, the countryside and of course about Stonehenge.

When we pulled within sight of Stonehenge my heart fluttered. Yes, I become a giddy school girl within sight of really big rocks.

After alighting from the bus I picked up the free audio guide and started taking pictures wondering the whole time just how many pictures one person can take of a bunch of rocks. I haven’t counted but here’s just a sampling.

While the stones may not be beautiful in and of themselves they hold so much history. It boggles my mind to think that when the Romans came to Britain Stonehenge was already ancient, 3000 years old. Wow.

After worming my way through an extremely packed gift shop (made much more difficult by my back pack which took up the space of another person) I boarded the tour bus again heading back to Salisbury.

The driver alerted us to the upcoming stop of Old Sarum, the original location for Salisbury founded by the Normans. When he told us that the local bus service would pick us back up if we got off here I decided against getting out. Ultimately I succumbed to peer pressure when everyone else got off.

The signs to the Old Sarum entrance were not obvious. I followed the others up a hill and encountered an “Hours of Operation” sign. Problem was, a huge ditch (defense works for the city) lay between me and Old Sarum. An older Chinese lady went to the right but came back around so I followed the others to the left and just kept going and going and going. I took a “scenic detour” as my dad would say. Would I have to walk around the entire circle?

The views made up for the walk though. From the height I could look down on the entire town of Salisbury and the Cathedral whose spire is the tallest medieval spire in England.

Finally I came to a path across the ditch.

After talking to a friendly local the older Chinese lady and I crossed over and started exploring the grounds.

First came the original cathedral.

Archeologists found it like this. The materials in this building were recycled into the “new” cathedral.

Then I made my way into the castle area. (Those materials were also recycled into buildings in Salisbury.)

Once I finished I walked out the front gate and discovered that if I’d turned right I would have saved myself that whole extra walk. I still can’t understand why the Chinese lady came back around; she went the right way the first time.

I made my way back to the bus stop, onto the bus and back into town. I ate lunch at Starbucks where I discovered the joy of free internet with a registered card. By the way, this was right outside the window.

Then I started to explore Salisbury, specifically the cathedral.

A medieval gate

Did you know that that spire kept Salisbury from being destroyed during the Battle of London? Luftwaffe pilots were told specifically not to destroy the spire because they used it as a landmark. Wow.

The ornate carvings on these cathedrals get me every time. There’s no way a single picture can capture the immense beauty.

I didn’t tour the castle. I’d already made that decision but I’m glad I did; they were setting up for a flower festival.

I finally said goodbye to Salisbury and made my way back up to the train station to catch the train back to London, home base for the last two days.

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2 Comments

Filed under travel

2 responses to “London Day 6: Salisbury and Stonehenge–beautiful ancient history

  1. Susan

    WOW. I can’t believe you actually got to go there. WOW!

  2. Pingback: The Year of Yes–2011 in Review | Stepping Out

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