Stonehenge Tour company?

Old Jan 8th, 2011, 12:19 AM
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I meant to say, a departure from Waterloo between 9 and 10am should allow you time to see all you want to see and still have you back in London in time for dinner.
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 06:12 AM
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jtw--here's how our day went in 2008. Oh, I'd suggest you catch the bus to Stonehenge upon your arrival; no reason to go into Salisbury and then back to the station. We didn't see much of Salisbury besides the Cathedral but we could have if we'd caught a later train.

(from our trip in July 2008)
Day 3—In which we go to Stonehenge and Salisbury via public transport

Although it looked like a gloomy, maybe rainy day, we decided to go to Salisbury and Stonehenge. As I explained above, we had purchased the BritRailEngland 4-Day Flex Pass and used it for the first time. We rode the Tube to Waterloo Station. Once there, we found ticket office and had our passes validated as we needed to for the first use. As car-dependent Americans, we had never ridden a train before and were a bit intimidated by the process. But the people were helpful in every station we used, and if the signage or directions weren’t clear, we could always find someone to help. So if you’re going to be riding the rails in England, just allow plenty of time, like 15-30 minutes, after you arrive at the station to find available trains if you don’t have that info, which platform the train will be departing from and the actual platform. With the FlexPass we didn’t have to try to get to a specific train; in this case we knew there was one at 8:50 and then 9:20 if we missed it, but we found platform and train in time to get on the 8:50. This train, as all others we rode, left on time and was not crowded at all. We had a smooth 90 minute ride to the Salisbury train station. Trains are comfortable, have nice facilities, and give a nice view of the passing countryside. Definitely better than driving for us this trip.

I loved arriving at all the different train stations, some rather compact and old, others a bit more modern and full of services. Salisbury, as I recall, was on the small side but had a snack shop and a helpful agent who told me where to catch the Stonehenge bus.

I had researched how to get to Stonehenge via public transport and found that this year there was a service called (not very creatively but appropriately) The Stonehenge Tour that for £17.50 each would pick us up at the train station and drive us to Stonehenge. Admission was included so we wouldn’t have to stand in line, and then we could spend as long as we wanted and take any of their busses that ran every 30 minutes to go back into town. (There was also a stop at Old Sarum but it was not nice enough for us to do this). This mode worked great for us; the bus was on time, comfortable, had a narration on its nice 30 minute ride to and from the site, and gave us freedom to spend as much or as little time there as we wanted. Highly recommended.

Stonehenge is impressive, of course, and can’t really be described, only experienced. So I won’t try to recreate the experience. Go there. This day it was pretty windy, cold, and sprinkly so we didn’t dawdle, and we had read much so didn’t find the audio guide to be that interesting (plus I’d been before) but all in all it’s an unforgettable experience.
We caught the bus back after warming up with hot chocolate and then in town walked, following obvious signs, to the Cathedral. It is impressive, of course, and can’t really be described, only experienced. So I won’t try to recreate the experience. Go there. (Yes, I know I just repeated myself—but both sites have that effect on me—awe, if for different reasons, and wonder.) Salisbury is just an incredibly lovely place of worship and is 750 years old this year! The good copy of the Magna Carta is almost worth the trip all by itself. On this day when we came out the sky had brightened up nicely so we took duplicate pics as the light playing on the structure differently than when we went in made it look quite different (let’s see, didn’t some guy name Constable notice the same thing?) DH was pretty tired and so we didn’t spend any more time in this lovely city, but caught a 4:20 train (barely made it!) back to the madhouse known as Waterloo-at-rush-hour at 5:45.
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 10:23 AM
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Texasbookwork - Wonderful, detailed advice. Thank you, thank you!!! I have cut and pasted your reply and will likely follow it exactly.
Patricklondon - thank you for your links!!
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 01:38 PM
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All of this info on Stonehenge is very helpful as I've just begun to plan that excursion from London during our short stay in Bloomsbury. However, my husband and I have been told that tourists can no longer go close to the stones nor inside the circle. Therefore, we are beginning to have doubts that it will be a worthwhile trip. Can anyone speak to this?
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 02:48 PM
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Charp45--That's so hard to answer--so much depends on what you expect probably. For us Stonehenge was totally worth it even without getting to touch the stones; you do get near, the views of the whole circle are great; the audio guide good. This last summer we actually got to touch standing stones at Castlerigg, which was cool, but Stonehenge is pretty iconic--and big--and yet somehow smaller than I thought (?) Anyway, coupled with a tour of Salisbury, which is amazing, this is a fantastic day!
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 03:51 PM
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"However, my husband and I have been told that tourists can no longer go close to the stones nor inside the circle."

The Stones have been roped off for more that 30 years -- millions of folks have visited and marveled at the sight ever since. It isn't like there is a fence between you and the monument - just a simple cable and in places you are quite close to the stones.
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