Time to take a little hiatus from my posts about the travels through Romania, to bring to you something a little special… Every year, for both the summer and the winter solstices, English Heritage opens up Stonehenge to the public, free of charge, to wander amongst the stones. I wouldn’t really have bothered with this, but since others were driving, I thought why not, I might as well see this famous event for myself! So, last night I loaded up in a large van with friends and coworkers and we all headed down to Stonehenge to see the sunrise on the Summer Solstice. Oh, and of course to get to touch the stones and walk amongst them…
We had to park our vehicle near the far end of the parking lot. That made for a very long walk to the stones, about 25 minutes total, and we were briskly walking. At the end of the parking area, and then up near the stones are some food and drink stands. We grabbed an order of fries (excuse me, “chips”), and chowed down on them, happy for some hot food after the long car ride and being out in the cold night air.
After the parking lot, you pass through a little “security” area where they have you open your bags for them to look in. Signs state you’re allowed a legal amount of alcohol, but no drugs, and that they have drug sniffing dogs employed. I never spotted one of these dogs, though, which turned out to be more the shame since once you reach the stones, you become overwhelmed with the smell of pot, and see more than one person lighting up. And that legal amount of alcohol? I’m not sure what they consider that to be, but it must be quite high, some people were quite wasted. I mention this, really, so that you are aware of what to expect should you decide to go for a future solstice. I passed several individuals with small children, and one man with a small infant strapped to his chest. This was NOT the place to take children, much less a baby.
We worked our way up to the stones through the crowds of people standing or just laying around on the grass. We snapped some pictures, and then tried going into the heart of the stones. Kind of a big mistake! We managed to press our way into a throng of people, packed so tightly together we couldn’t even move or go anywhere. The crowd started pushing back against us and I found myself at an angle, my feet not really planted on the ground anymore, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Once we got free, we didn’t return to that area! We passed out the other side of the circle, and walked out and around it, trying to determine where the sun would rise and where the best view directly opposite it would be.
After viewing google images on our phones and examining the stones, we chose our spot and waited. As the sky grew brighter, the clouds became lit up with gorgeous pinks and purples. An absolutely incredible display.
Eventually (a few minutes after it was supposed to) the sun rose over the edge of the hill in the distance, directly through one of the arches on the far side of the stones. It was beautiful, and incredible to see, knowing people have been viewing this sunrise for thousands of years here. After having gone, I am now so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to go and see this.
After the sun passed the stone arch, it entered into the clouds and was not seen again. At least we saw it for the important bit, right?! The area cleared out a little and we approached the stones to get a few more shots in the daylight, before finally starting the long walk back to our van to head home. So, it was a crazy experience in all, but more than worth it if you are in the area to go and watch the sunrise at a solstice through the stones of Stonehenge!