Winter Solstice is on Friday 21st December. I love spending winter solstice morning at Stonehenge – I don’t go every year but I’ve always enjoyed it when I have. If you’re interested there are some photos from previous winter solstices at the Stonehenge here:
Anyway, in case you’re planning to go to the Stonehenge Solstice celebrations I thought I’d type up some notes on how to get there.
Walking from Salisbury – I’ve walked from Salisbury to Stonehenge 3 or 4 times. It’s a fairly extreme thing to do for the Winter solstice. You have to start at around 3.30am, but it’s a beautiful walk. It’s about 10 miles from the centre of Salisbury to Stonehenge. I’ve not found a way of doing it at night without crossing and/or walking alongside the A303, which is both unpleasant and dangerous.
Walking from Amesbury – a better option is to get the bus to Amesbury and walk from there. There is currently a bus called the activ8 (or just number 8) that leaves Salisbury bus station at 6.00am.
This gets you to Amesbury at 6.20. You can then cross the A303 through the Countess Roundabout subway and walk across country. I’ve done this once and it’s magical, although it’s easy to get lost in the dark. The map below gives an idea of the route, but you need an Ordnance Survey map, really. The sky is starting to lighten by the time you approach the Henge, but you should be there well in time for sunrise. If you want to be there while it’s still pitchy-dark, the bus-and-walk option won’t work.
Driving – Notwithstanding the official words below. People do drive and park along tracks in the rough vicinity of Stonehenge. I don’t drive, but I really wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t think you appreciate the experience as much, your car could get damaged and you may end up parking some distance away anyway. Personally, I’d leave the car at Amesbury and walk as described above.
Other – you could also get a taxi (about £30 from Salisbury – book in advance), or cycle, or some combination of the above.
However you get to Stonehenge – you should wrap up well because it’s very cold, be careful on the roads in the dark and look after your personal safety!
I received this from English Heritage which explains some of the rules of the Henge:
Visitors wishing to celebrate the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge at sunrise on Friday 21st December 2012 will be given access into the monument when it is considered sufficiently light and therefore safe to do so. This is likely to be from approximately 07:30hrs. Sunrise that morning will be at approximately 08:10hrs. Visitors will be asked to vacate the site by 09:00hrs
Please note that access to Stonehenge might not be possible if the ground conditions are poor or if it is considered that access might result in severe damage to the monument.
Limited facilities are available at Stonehenge for the duration of the access (07:30hrs until 09:00hrs only) although these facilities will not be open prior to the access commencing (this includes the toilets). There will be no official parking facilities on the day.
- I should say doing Salisbury to Stonehenge in the middle of the night in December can severely impact the rest of your Christmas. Some believe the Stones have health-giving properties. I’m not sure these are powerful enough to counteract the effect of the walk out there :) [↩]
- It’s a beautiful walk if it’s not too dark and foggy to see anything, anyway! [↩]
- Timetable is here – don’t trust me, please check it! [↩]