After arriving late in the day yesterday, I spent almost 2 hours driving from London to Amesbury. The reason to drive to Amesbury last night was to get a good start on my time in England. Amesbury is about as close as you can get a hotel to Stonehenge, which is where I started my day. With the rest of the day spent visiting some other historic sites as I travelled to Wiltshire.
When I put England on my itinerary, Stonehenge was a definite must do for me. I do not know what motivated me to decide on renting a car. But I can tell you for this one stop being so close in the morning is a huge benefit.
I arrived at Stonehenge at the opening time of 9.30 with a handful of other people. As you approach on the road, you do capture your first glimpse of the ring of stones. However, being able to stand a short distance from Stonehenge, is an entirely different experience.
Part of the entry is an audio tour that shares a lot of the history of the site. It is very interesting to hear about the history while you are in the presence of Stonehenge. Plus you think that you have heard about Stonehenge, but there is always something new you might have missed.
It took around an hour in all to walk around, get some photos and listen to the audio tour. Unfortunately, as you might imagine the photos barely do the site justice. Seeing Stonehenge for yourself is an amazing experience if you ever get the chance.
The timing, in the end, was perfect. As I was leaving at 10.30, there was a stream of tour buses arriving full of people on day tours from London. For me, this reinforced my choice of staying nearby overnight and visiting Stonehenge early.
Farleigh Hungerford Castle
After leaving Stonehenge, the general direction I was travelling was towards Bath. However, at Stonehenge, I collected some more information about English Heritage sites and decided to stop at a nearby castle.
The castle, or more accurately the ruins of the castle I visited is Farleigh Hungerford Castle. The remains of the castle are little more than the footprint of where the walls used to stand. Along with the outer wall, gatehouse and some other smaller outbuildings.
At this second stop, there was also an audio tour to guide me around the area. At this castle, it was an excellent way to see what was important without running around reading every sign. I do not intend to rush my visit to any stop, but I find the audio tour makes a visit much more efficient.
Another benefit I have found from the audio tours is that it helps to recreate the atmosphere of the site. They take advantage of much more description language and sounds to describe the area beyond what signs often do. You are guided through the footprint of the ruins and finish in the outbuildings.
Bath is a city that I have always wanted to visit, and it was only a short way off where I would be. Primarily there was a few photo stops that I wanted to make here. But unfortunately, it turned out to be near impossible even to stop anywhere near the city. I spent about an hour stuck in traffic looking for a parking spot, which was not restricted.
The city of Bath is just totally jammed with traffic, and people and buses. I honestly do not know how anyone can practically live here. In the end, I gave up and moved onto my final destination for the day.
My final destination for the day was Devizes, where I had booked a room for the night. Arriving a little early I took an opportunity to visit the Wiltshire Heritage Museum. Here they had a small section with some additional detail about Stonehenge. It was interesting and expanded on my visit this morning, things like a model that shows the progression of the building.
The day has been very enjoyable, and I am so far glad that I rented a car to explore the countryside. I have already been able to see so much more than I expected. Although I find staying in one place and taking, tours can be good. Getting out and seeing the countryside for yourself can also be a great experience. If I had not been driving myself, I likely would have missed photos like the one above. I captured the photo on a bridge in Bradford-on-Avon.