Exploring Southern England – Part 1

Last week I finally had the joy of welcoming my father and brother for a visit. After having lived in England for 2.5 years now, it was about time that my family came for a visit. And they did, coming from cold and rainy northern Germany, they arrived in a (for the season) exceptionally warm and sunny Southampton.

They were only gonna stay a few days, so I had made plans ahead to take them to some of the nicest places that Southern England has to offer.

Stonehenge

This one had been something my dad has been wanting to see for ages. Before we went, I was warned by several people that I shouldn’t expect very much – just a few rocks next to a motorway. I have to say, I can’t disagree more!

We got there shortly after opening of the visitor centre. I will admit, the entry fee was higher than expected with £20 per person, but I don’t regret going there. Right after the entrance was an exhibiton showing findings from excavations in the Stonehenge area, giving information about its purpose and teaching about life in the Neolithic era.

Neolithic Houses
Just after the entrance was an area with reconstructed Neolithic Houses.

After the exhibition, there were several reconstructed Neolithic houses to illustrate how life was at the time of the erectionand use of Stonhenge. From there on, we could have either taken a bus to the stone circle itself or walk. Since it was a warm day under blue skies, we decided to walk the 1.5 miles and enjoy the fresh air rather than taking the bus.

As we hiked along the road, we got a first glimpse of the stones after about ten minutes. They were still a fair bit away, but we could already guess how big they must be. As we approached closer and closer, we realised that the tiny movements around the stones were indeed visitors! Although it was a Thursday morning out of the holiday season, there was a constant stream of visitors arriving.

Close-up of Stonehenge.
The stone circle has impressive views from every angle.

Close up, Stonehenge is truly impressive. These giant rocks, erected in a circle by people that had no modern technology. They brought the material huge distances just to build the stone circle.

Luckily, the stream of visitors thinned out a bit as we took the little path around the stone circle. What a lunch we had, sitting on a bench, eating sandwiches and enjoying the spectacular view. The golden sunrays created a mystic atmosphere as they lit up the stones.

Stonehenge lit up
When Stonehenge was lit up by the sun, it created a mystic atmosphere.

When we finally unglued our eyes from this impressive prehistoric monument, we decided to take a little detour on the way back. The landscape around the stone circle has much more to offer! We took a walk along the Stonehenge Cursus and the many barrows spread around. In fact, the whole area has more Neolithic cultural sites to offer than just Stonehenge. Within a close distance are also Woodhenge and the Durrington Walls!

 

Glastonbury Tor

St Michael's Tower on top of Glastonbury Tor.
St Michael’s Tower on top of Glastonbury Tor.

After we had explored everything we wanted to see around Stonehenge, it was still early afternoon. Too early to head back to Southampton, so I drove us to Glastonbury. (Fun side note: Both my brother and father were more than glad that I was driving in the left-hand traffic.)

To give them a feel for the landscape of Southern England, we hiked up Glastonbury Tor to St Michael’s Tower. From there, we had a phantastic view all round, far into the distance. Greend fields were stretching out to the horizon in one direction, the small village of Glastonbury lay at the foot of the hill in another direction. A chain of rolling hills appeared in a third direction.

View from Glastonbury Tor
From Glastonbury Tor, we had a lovely view all around.

After enjoying the slowly setting sun on top of the hill, we made our way back down and start the drive home. And after a long day of sun and fun, a nice slow-cooked roast of lamb was waiting for us thanks to James. It could not have been a better start of the holiday!

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