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Sunset on Winter Solstice in Stonehenge

Walking up the boulevard as the Druids and Pagans before us, up to Stonehenge

semi-overcast 40 °F
View Europe Winter 2021 on Miss Chris's travel map.

So now it was time to go back to Salisbury, the reason for this trip, Winter Solstice!

We got to Salisbury on Monday afternoon and went back to the Chapter House where we had reservations. We were tired and knew that the following 2 days would be busy, like super busy, so we just had soup brought up to our room and blobbed.

Tuesday, the 21st was actually solstice, but it occurred late morning so the morning sunrise would not be celebrated until Wed a.m. This was a change as, originally, I’d found that it would be celebrated on the 21st. We were going to spend the night of the 21st anyway so the only way it changed anything was to make the 22nd very busy.

I had reserved a walking tour for us to walk a portion of the avenue that the pagans, druids, celts and other Neolithic people would have walked down and then up to the stones. Well, that tour was canceled on Monday because tour guides were self-isolating with covid.

I had thought about doing this on our own but then when Dale suggested that we attempt it I texted our prior tour guide, Nicholas. Nick said that it was something we could do on our own, so there we were.

I bought tickets to enter Stonehenge for Tues afternoon at 1pm. We could walk down the boulevard, over to the stones and be there in time for sunset. As I believe, I wrote earlier, the sunset was the most important time for the early people as it marked the time when the days would be getting longer and warmer. They’d survived the winter.

Now the boulevard, or avenue, was constructed about 5,000 years ago. We read that there are still areas marking the borders and there is a dip in the earth where the boulevard is. This is visible up on the hill across from Stonehenge. This boulevard was made using deer antlers and wood. I can’t imagine how much work this must have been.

On Tuesday Dale and I went to catch the Stonehenge bus, this is a bus that runs from Salisbury to Stonehenge every hour. We wanted to get on the 12 pm bus and then walk the boulevard being at the Heel Stone at 3:30pm to catch the sunset.

We got on the bus but then found that the credit card machine did not have a card reader as it was only a tap reader so could not read our card. About 1 week earlier our card went from contactless to wanting a signature. I couldn’t find the card that I’d been using that was clearly contactless and completely forgot that Dale’s wallet was in the bag that we were carrying. He had a card in it. We had to get off the bus and get cash, but my debit card was in my wallet at the hotel. Again, we forgot that Dale’s debit card was in his wallet in our bag.

We went back to the hotel and got my wallet, found an ATM, got cash and went back to the bus stop. This time we got on the bus and got to Stonehenge at 2 pm instead of 1pm. We hopped on the bus in Stonehenge and got up to the stones as quick as possible.

Once off the bus we asked the guide about walking from the boulevard and she pointed us to the gates we needed to go thru. Again, we had been in a hurry and didn’t download the app for this walk, but we went on our way.

The stones are located on a hill and the boulevard comes across a hill and down a valley then up the hill to the stones. The pagans would walk along the boulevard up to the stones. The gate into the avenue is actually off to the side so you can’t access the boulevard as walked by the pagans. We walked down and across the hill to where we saw the boulevard. There we were able to see the phenomenon that we’d heard about. You can be walking and the stones disappear, then you start up the hill and they reappear.
As we walked up the hill to the stones, I noticed a small border to our left. I thought that it might mark the boulevard. We walked over to that border and then saw that there was another border even more to our left. I knew that the avenue came out at the heel stone so we just walked in the center of this area. Dale looked back down the hill and said, look we are right in the middle of what was the avenue. I looked and yes, we could see the indentation in the earth and the borders on both sides. It was such an incredible moment to walk what people walked 5,000 years ago.
We walked up as close to the stones as we could. As this area is fenced off, we had to walk back to the gates to get out and go back to the stones. By now it was closing in on sunset so we had to find a spot among all of the other people hoping to catch the sunset.

We found a place where if I held my camera just right, I could take a photo of the sun setting between the 2 stones set in place for this event. We were able to get to the front quickly when the people in front of us left, kids were tired of being there.
There was a bank of clouds on the horizon but until the sun went behind the clouds, we were able to shoot some great photos.
We went back to the café, got coffee and carrot cake to hold us until we’d get back to the hotel for dinner.

Wow! This was exactly what I’d wanted to do and see, the most important time of the year.

Posted by Miss Chris 03:52 Archived in England Tagged stonehenge international_travel sunset_on winter_solstice winter_solstice_in_stonehenge

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