Today was the only time during our trip that we had a scheduled tourist visit. That was Stonehenge, planned for the first group time of 9:30 am. It was less than a half hour from The Barn to site, so we stopped at the cafe in Semley village and met with the lovely couple that run it for coffee and pastries. On our way, we were so happy that it was yet another beautiful day and it was only getting warmer. Still needed a light jacket but the wind was minimal and the skies were blue. We had to wait in line to confirm our reservations and English Heritage tickets before we were on a bus heading to the site. Stonehenge
Stonehenge is thousands of years old and no one really seems to know its use; there are lots of theories on how and why it was built, but it remains a mystery. I think that is part of its appeal; otherwise, it is just a pile of rocks. But they are massive and it really was awe inspiring to see them laid out in their formation.
I would not say I was disappointed, but I found other
I told you Donald got around...
things a bit more interesting, like the largest hares/rabbits I had ever seen jumping and running along the slopes nearby. Or the beautiful yellow flowers covering the hills in the distance (gorse?). You also, understandably, could not get near the stones anyway. There was a highway not far off that was packed with cars, probably with people who had slowed down to look at the stones - their view really was not that much different from ours. We walked around the site and returned to the center.
They had a very impressive gift shop and it was here I bought a lot of souvenirs for the nieces and nephews who could not come. There were outdoor exhibits as well, showing reconstructed homes and how they think the rocks were transported. Also an indoor exhibit which showed some of the amazing items found at or near the site. I was glad I had picked the earliest time as it soon started to get busy. The park / site itself if quite lovely and there is actually much to do. Parking is easy and you can either walk or take a shuttle to the stones.
Then it was time to
go. So we dropped our parents off at the local pub in Semley village while went further on. They loved it. They said it was not too busy during the day but were told it was "hopping" on Friday nights. They had to walk back to our cottage though, not a short walk, but it was a nice day, remember? Hell Lane
Dana had one major request before we went on the trip: to walk along a holloway, or "sunken lane". These are routes of travel that had been in use over hundreds of years, with countless feet traveling upon them. Over time, as the trail became worn, the weight would cause the trail to sink. In turn, it became a clearer trail and direct even more traffic flow. One of the most well known is Hell Lane, which connects to Shutes Lane in the tiny village of Symondsbury. So it was here we went first, stopping at the local pub, which was super cute and friendly, for lunch. A little old lady sitting at the table nearby told us as we left that the boys were cute and very well behaved; I was glad because I worried
their little antics were too disruptive.
After our lunch, we just had to walk up the road which turned into the sunken lane. It was actually quite impressive. There were some areas where we were down a good 10-15 feet from the surrounding elevation. The kids loved seeing and hearing the sheep and writing on the sandstone walls. Overall, I think we hiked along here about a mile before turning back. Durdledoor
Our last stop of the day was actually recommended to us via Facebook by a former colleague of mine and it did not disappoint. We went down toward the coast, driving through many small beach towns in our giant van. We parked and paid at the parking area and while there, we saw firetrucks and police. We figured out what was going on as we made our way to the trail where we saw a tractor towing a car up the slope; the car was being pulled backwards and upside down, its windshield crushed. We had no idea what happened, but could see tire tracks on the grass adjacent to the path. We weren't sure how far the car traveled down, whether it was intentional
or someone left a parking brake off - I never found anything about it in the news so it remains a mystery.
Anyway, avoiding the pieces of glass along the path, we made our way down, down, down. It was scenic view on a beautiful day - you could see up and down the coast. As we made it to the top of the stairs, we saw people huffing and puffing come back up, but down we went. The kids played on the beach for a while near the giant hole in the limestone rock that is Durdledoor. They seemed to be having a good time throwing rocks into the water.
Then came the time to climb back up. We were good for about 2/3's of the way until Olivier got tired and Dana gave him a piggy back ride for nearly the rest of the way up until he was fine to walk again. When we put him back in the car, trying to buckle him in, he pulled out rock after rock after rock from his pockets. No wonder he got tired!
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Paul & Sheila Williams
My neck of the woods ... ...
Glad you are enjoying the wonderful Wiltshire & Dorset countryside. Paul and I love to hike around Stonehenge from our Hampshire home, particularly when the weather is good with glorious views for miles. The yellow fields you saw were probably Rape Seed they are amazing coming just after the forests full of bluebells - nature is a wonderful thing. Happy Travels - Sheila
Alexis M Spencer
Thank you for telling me the name! We were wondering the whole time what it was. I thought it looked like mustard, but we had no idea. Gorse was the only thing we could think of. :) It was beautiful
D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley