Lets get the preliminaries out of the way first.
Where are we? The Stonehenge Campsite, Winterbourne Stoke, a couple of miles west of Stonehenge: http://www.stonehengecampsite.co.uk We score it 4/5.
What’s it like? Tidy!, Tucked away from the A303, located in a natural bowl. It’s protected from the elements, well laid out and at this time of the year economically priced. The wardens led by Elaine are welcoming and enthusiastic. The site facilities are in the process of being upgraded, the “Other Half” informs me the newly refurbished ladies toilets are pristine and very clean. The gents are basic and awaiting an upgrade, but the shower pumps out lots of hot water and the loo flushes so that all I need. The pitches have gravel hard standing and EHU, additionally there are water taps on some of the pitches.
The site at this time of the year is nice and quiet, in the summer however there is also 2 x tent fields being utilised so I can imagine it will be quite busy and less peaceful….Just a thought.
What’s to do? There are plenty of walks directly from the site and two small village pubs within a 10min stroll that both serve food. This is old England at its best, lots of small picturesque isolated hamlets, thatched cottages and village pubs to explore.
It’s very easy to get off the beaten track and enjoy the rolling chalkland of the Plain, If you have a dog, this is a great place to exercise it. Of course the biggest draw is Stonehenge, which is a 3 mile walk from the site…..Be aware it will cost at least £14 per adult to access the site!
We like this site, its deep in winter and we’ve had a glorious days walking and had a distant look at the nations most important relic. Perhaps we might feel differently after the 70mph winds forecast for the south west later tonight!!
March or Die: We’ve had a bundle of fun today. Last night we hunkered down in the van as the temp outside slipped briefly to the wrong side of 0’c….This morning we breakfasted, packed the rucsacs and then we were off on a cross country route to Stonehenge. Salisbury Plain is a great place to walk and walk and walk and walk!…..The missus was all cheerful this morning, however she committed the fatal error of leaving me to plan the route, which was to be circular and long!….This was “Infantry Country” and I was hankering on some tactical movement down memory lane! So off we went, so full of hope and cheer.
The great thing about Salisbury Plain is the lack of hedgerows, you can see for miles. The ground is fairly firm going, with lots of public footpaths and permissive byways. An OS Map or App is essential if your going to cover any distance.
Bonus Alert. The Other Half got all excited when we passed the pig farm, I thought at one point she was going to slip one of the piglets under her arm and dance a jig (she’s N/Irish)
(Rant On) I was determined to have a look at Stonehenge without paying the £14 per person for access to the newly opened visitor centre. I’m not tight, but this is a national treasure, its part of the fabric of our nation. If theres one artefact in the country that should be funded by the nation, this is it.
I would object less about the admission charge if the site was kept in a way that was sympathetic to its history, but its not. So now we have a multi million pound visitors centre, that been designed to blend in with the countryside….But………. look at the picture:
Yep! The Cars! Not seen are the lorries, the caravans, the motorbikes…..The A303 still runs past the stones. Looking from a distance today the most obvious draw to the eye is the snail trail of vehicles that are flowing past the site….No gaps, no quiet periods, just a relentless conveyer belt of traffic. To be honest I felt outraged, only in the UK could this be allowed to happen…..So thats why I won’t be paying £14 for the privilege of funding a part-finished, half measure of an upgrade to the site.
So instead we sat about 400ms away, eating our lunch in serene silence amongst the burial grounds at Normanton Nature Reserve, watching the site visitors being herded around like sheep to the backdrop of traffic hell.
So we’re very relieved that we had decided against a formal visit to the site and the £29 saved. All that being said…I’m a grumpy middle aged bloke….If I had a young family, the visitors centre, which is well reviewed, would be a must…But just to see the stones? I think not. By the way, from Feb 2014, you will need to pre-book your visit. (Rant Off)
Anyway, back to the footslog, we passed through a few small villages, none more impressive than Wilsford and the Lake House that dominates the valley
But by mid-afternoon the Other Half was starting to lag and becoming “All Civvy” with me, complaining about the pace/hill/heat/route/national debt/price of eggs (Delete as appropriate)..Did I listen, no…onwards my dear, we have many miles to cover, and so we did. By the late afternoon I had used most of the following sayings:
- Stay with me
- No Pain. No Gain
- Its just around the corner
- Stop crying
- Turn that frown, upside down
- On me
- Catch up
- I want to feel your belt buckle on the back of my hand
- Its just over the next hill
- If you can’t stand the heat….Take your hat off!
- Suck it up
- Cup of tea at the next bend
- Take that bad attitude and put it in your back pocket
- Are you jacking? Are you getting in the back of the “Jack Wagon”?
Bless her, it’s official, she now hates me, but i’ve had a brilliant day, it was just like being back in the green stuff.
We are now safely back in the van, admin squared away, dinner finished, Radio 2 playing quietly in the background. She loves me again, its all in the past, I promise to be good……Now what shall we do tomorrow?
That is all