During my time living in Cardiff, I had a few things on my British Isles bucket list and Stonehenge was in the top 10 and in January 2013, I managed to cross that off my bucket list.
After arriving in Salisbury by train in the morning, I booked the Stonehenge and Old Sarum tour starting at Salisbury Rail Station. I would’ve loved exploring the area by car, but as already mentioned in my post ‘Is solo travelling with a disability possible’, renting a car is not an option for me. However, I still highly recommend the bus tour. The bus driver and fellow passengers were kind and everything went according to plan.
I’ll be honest, when we arrived at the site, I was a bit taken aback. Sure, Stonehenge is a major tourist attraction and, thus, needs to be protected, but it was surprising to see how far it is fenced off and how many people were there. I guess I believed the image of that ‘solitary ancient place’ the media created too much.
The visit itself was not too exciting. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to visit Stonehenge so bad, but when you’re actually there…it is a very overrun place.
The next stop of my tour was Old Sarum, the site of the earlierst settlement of Salisbury in England. Even though this is an attraction most would ignore, I enjoyed this part of the tour much more than Stonehenge. Not only were there fewer people, you were actually allowed to walk and explore the grounds.
Ok, for all you Midle-earth geeks out there. Yes, whenever I read ‘Old Sarum’, I have to think of Saruman.
My interest in history is rather superfitial and minimal, but in the case of Old Sarum, I wished I had an extensive guide with me to read about that place whilst exploring it. Apparently, Old Sarum was occupied since about 3,000 BC by a Neolithic community and was abandoned in 1219 for ‘New Sarum’, also known as Salisbury. So much history is hidden in these ruins, I really need to do some research on Old Sarum.
Since my train was leaving in the evening, I had several hours to explore Salisbury. It is a very lovely town with not too many inhabitants. While there is the option to visit the Salisbury Cathedral or the Museum, I enjoyed my time there walking around aimlessly.
Fun fact: John Rhys-Davies, best known as Gimli in The Lord of the Rings, was born in Salisbury.
As a lover, some might even say addict, of coffe there is one place in Salisbury I highly recommend. If you’re looking for a place to grab a caffeinated bevearage of your choice, then visit the Boston Tea Party. The café as well as its coffee is a fantastic place to strengthen one’s energy.
In hindsight, I wish I’d taken more time to explore Salisbury and the greater region of Wiltshire. Well, I guess I need to go back some time.