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DMuller Jan 28th, 2013 11:24 AM

I am researching about visiting Stonehenge. From what I can gather, the regular tour ticket only allows you to see it from behind a fence that encircles the perimeter.

I have also seen special "inner circle tours" that leave from London and supposedly allow you to get up close to the stones...given by

Looking for input from anyone who has used this tour company (or not)...and just general input on visiting this site.

Thank you in advance!

jamikins Jan 28th, 2013 11:48 AM

How much of a Stonehenge enthusiast are you? The fence doesn't restrict at all and I didn't think that it took anything away from my visit, none of the people that have visited me over the years and gone have mentioned the fence so I assume it was no problem for any of them. We always send our guests on the day trip from London with London walks and it also includes Salisbury cathedral.

DMuller Jan 28th, 2013 03:25 PM

Not really a Stonehenge enthusiast...just figured it would be a big disappointment with the fence.

lovs2travel Jan 28th, 2013 03:53 PM

I cannot comment on the tour as we visited Stonehenge on our own with public transportation (which is really easy to do).

It’s not really a fence. It is more a rope perimeter, which was just a little higher than my knee. I did not find that it deterred from the view at all. I took a ton of pictures at Stonehenge and the rope is not seen in any of them.

This gives a pretty good description:

janisj Jan 28th, 2013 07:41 PM

"<i>I have also seen special "inner circle tours" that leave from London and supposedly allow you to get up close to the stones...given by Stonehengetours </i>"

Inner access is 'given' by English Heritage - Stonehenge Tours is a commercial tour company that buys up slots and re-sells them for profit. If you must do Inner Access - do it on your own thru English Heritage.

"<i>.just figured it would be a big disappointment with the fence.</i>"

As mentioned above . . . It ain't no fence. It is a thin cable that in some areas is quite close to the stones and in others is farther away. The cable/rope doesn't affect your viewing at all. Maybe this photo will help

KTtravel Jan 28th, 2013 08:07 PM

My family did the English Heritage Inner Access tour and loved it. I do think we got a lot more out of the experience than if we had just toured the perimeter. The inner access tour times are quite limited, however, so you'll have to decide whether or not they fit your schedule.

flanneruk Jan 28th, 2013 09:53 PM

1. Stonehenge looks little different on the ground from the Stonehenge you see in photos. It's probably the single major site in Europe that gets the most "Oh. Is that all there is to it?" reaction from visitors. You see virtually nothing on the Inner Circle visits you don't see on ordinary visits. BUT:

2. Inner Circle visits happen before (and sometimes after) ordinary access. So some visitors are struck by the atmosphere you get during those visits, possibly in some cases more than by the ability to touch the stones.

3. There really is very little to see at Stonehenge (the actual objects at nearby Avebury, though it's mostly a 20th century concrete reconstruction , offer a million times greater interest in themselves). But it's at the centre of an extraordinarily complex landscape, which is still being heavily investigated, and about which both mainstream, rigorous, disciplined archaeology and the outer fringe of airport paperback pseudo-historical lunacy are constantly producing new insights (or, in the latter case, absurdities).

There are very few major sites I can think of where research before you go can so dramatically increase your appreciation. The visitor centre displays offer only a small part of the knowledge now available about the area, and having a properly prepared personal guide can add immensely to the experience. No idea what the company you're citing is like - but if they're any good, you'll get a great deal out of your visit you wouldn't otherwise

4. If you're staying in London, the logistics of getting to Stonehenge in time for English Heritage Inner Circle access can be impossible, though this varies by time of year (the longer the day, the more impossible getting there in time by public transport from London gets, unless you overnight in Salisbury). Having a company organise this for you - and possibly giving you a proper summary of available knowledge on the way - may well for some people be the only way of using their time sensibly..

If all you want is a photo-op, Inner Circle access is a waste. For many people, having a third party organise and guide you might be the only way of getting what they want out of Stonehenge.

Only the poster has the faintest idea of why he thinks going to Stonehenge is worth the trouble at all.

jamikins Jan 28th, 2013 10:48 PM

I have to say I kind of agree with flanner. I am glad that I saw it but I was underwhelmed. You really only need about 15 - 30 mins depending how much of the audio guide you want to listen to. I wouldn't waste a lot of money on a fancy tour unless I had a massive interest.

PatrickLondon Jan 29th, 2013 01:07 AM

>>You really only need about 15 - 30 mins depending how much of the audio guide you want to listen to.<<

Or the time to view it in the context of the landscape (flanner's point 3).

Ages ago I viewed it the way most people do, having stopped there en route for somewhere else, and I was equally underwhelmed (the utilitarian access subway and services didn't help, though those are being upgraded).

But more recently, I walked there from Amesbury, on a route that takes you over and around some of the surrounding barrows and along the cursus and what's believed to be the ceremonial approach avenue (all of this is National Trust or English Heritage land, so it can be walked over). Seeing the stones appear and disappear as you move through the landscape below and above the stones, and seeing them as the focus of these vast earthworks for a mile or so around, makes all the difference - IF you have the time.

weborguk Jan 29th, 2013 09:53 AM

You should check out this company's reviews - they give a good summary of what you can get out of a well planned trip to Stonehenge with a proper guide on the inner circle access and landscape tour.

For the casual visitor, good advice is to arrive either right at opening time or about an hour and a half before closing to avoid the worst of the crowds which start turning up from about 10.30am onwards on tour buses from London.

Opening times change during the year, so check carefully to avoid disappointment - has all the details.

Weekends and bank holidays are far busier than weekdays generally but it's pretty busy for the whole summer - thousands of people a day.

Trains run from London Waterloo to Salisbury, then there's a bus that runs from Salisbury railway station and does a ticket that includes entry to Stonehenge (and Old Sarum - an iron age hillfort en route which is the original site of Salisbury cathedral). The bus is run by this company:

Alternatively, you can get a regular bus from Salisbury to Amesbury and either walk (a bit more than 2 miles) or get a taxi (about £7 from Amesbury to Stonehenge).

In the peak of summer, as well as the regular circular path around the monument an additional path is opened up around the outside of the western ditch and bank where you can picnic in comparative peace. On a hot day with the larks singing it can be a great place to spend a few hours.

If you can time your visit to coincide with Summer Solstice (June 21) then the entire monument is open for free and to all from about 8pm on the 20th through to 10am on the 21st (sunrise at 4.52am) - check the English Heritage website nearer the time for details of "Managed Open Access". Parking for this event is over a mile away, but buses run direct to a drop off nearby from Salisbury via Amesbury. For completeness, here's the info for last year's event:

It's a unique experience and YouTube will have lots of videos of Summer Solstice at Stonehenge but be warned that the weather can be awful - horizontal torrential rain from 10pm to 2am made 2012's solstice something of an endurance test.

As others have said, some visitors find Stonehenge to be a disappointment. I find that sad - there's not much we're building today that more than a million people a year are going to want to come and wonder at in 7013 AD.

mes2525 Jan 29th, 2013 12:18 PM

In October I went on a day trip from London to Salisbury/Stonehenge using London Walks. It was a great day out and you might consider doing the walk with them. We did Salisbury in the morning and then took a short bus ride to Stonehenge in the afternoon. The BBC produced a show that I saw on History Channel about Stonehenge and why/how it was built that will greatly aid in your appreciation of the sight. To me, it is a lot more than some stones, but different people like different things.

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