Travel tales - Stonehenge to Cornwall

Travel & roadtrips. Since moving up to Lincolnshire from the deepest darkest depths of West Cornwall, my Husband & I can't seem to stay still for longer than a few weeks at a time :)
My Husband works in the film & tv industry and often when he has to travel for meetings we include a bit of a roadtrip to make it more fun & we have ended up visiting some amazing places that perhaps we wouldn't have gotten around to otherwise.

Yesterday was one such trip. Heading back to Cornwall has been a fairly regular thing over the past couple of years and there is no way to disguise the horrible 6 hour journey (12 if you count the round trip), so we often choose a place to visit on the way & combine it with things we love to do.
Some people say we are crazy... but we don't care. All the more crazy fun for us ;)

Stonehenge is 3 hours South of here, & West Cornwall is 3 hours South West of Stonehenge.... so we decided to stop off halfway & make use of our English Heritage membership by visiting the world famous 'Stonehenge'.
I have seen it twice before from the road. We did stop once but it was late in the day & the site was closed, but as it is a name you grow up hearing in the UK I had never been 'desperate' to see it. Perhaps I even took it for granted.
However in recent years I've gained much more of a respect and awe for the ancient landmarks, & found that many places do have a remarkable energy surrounding them.
They hold a sort of peace & tranquillity within their ruins and crumbling walls.

STONEHENGE
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/
*Click all images to enlarge*







We set out early for Wiltshire, one of our favourite Counties, and arrived before 9am. The sky was blue & the sun was shining. As we crested the hill & saw the grey stones ahead in the distance, it was almost serendipity at that very moment Loreena Mckennit played 'The Mummers Dance' (its actually the only Loreena Mckennit track on my mobile phone's 'Car music' playlist ;) ).

We pulled into the car park by the new visitor's centre. I'd read a lot of controversial comments regarding the changes and all I can say is that I found none of the negativity to have a sound basis in truth. The site is well run, and very interesting. Including the 'Exhibition' of archaeological finds from the surrounding area.
The entry fee is fairly steep for non-members however, the hidden costs of upkeep for English Heritage are pretty high. And Stonehenge is one of the busiest. There are also a fleet of buses that take you from the visitors centre up to the circle.


As EH members we were offered their Audio Guide for free to listen to as we walked around the site. For non members this is an additional £3 to use.This gives a fascinating insight into the discoveries made here and the history.
 The Stones are no longer accessible due to concerns regarding the erosion of the site either due to vandalism or wear and tear from centuries of activity.
This I fully support. The slow meander of the winding path gives the viewer a perfect opportunity to see the structure set against the sky in full glory. And it means that everyone can get beautiful photographs of the stone circle without having hundreds of strangers in front of it.





Stonehenge, which is over 4,000 years old, looks mystical from every angle, and as you walk you can't help but pause to stare. And on a beautiful sunny day such as it was, the surrounding countryside was also breathtaking. What a perfect spot this must have been for such a sacred site.
"...From what scientists can tell, Salisbury Plain was considered to be a sacred area long before Stonehenge itself was constructed. As early as 10,500 years ago, three large pine posts, which were totem poles of sorts, were erected at the site. "
"...Recently researchers have also discovered a massive wooden building, which may have been used for burial rituals. Also, dozens of burial mounds have been discovered near Stonehenge indicating that hundreds, if not thousands, of people were buried there in ancient times. At least 17 shrines, some in the shape of a circle, have also been discovered near Stonehenge.
As time went on the landscape continued to change. Around 5,500 years ago, two earthworks known as Cursus monuments were erected, the longest of which ran for 1.8 miles (3 km).
More construction occurred around 5,000 years ago with postholes indicating that either bluestones or upright timber posts were propped up on the site. Then, around 4,600 years ago, a double circle made using dozens of bluestones was created at the site. 
By 4,400 years ago, Stonehenge had changed again, having a series of sarsen stones erected in the shape of a horseshoe, with every pair of these huge stones having a stone lintel connecting them. In turn, a ring of sarsens surrounded this horseshoe, their tops connecting to each other, giving the appearance of a giant interconnected stone circle surrounding the horseshoe.
By 4,300 years ago, Stonehenge had been expanded to include the addition of two bluestone rings, one inside the horseshoe and another between the horseshoe and the outer layer of interconnected sarsen stones.
Construction at Stonehenge slowed down around 4,000 years ago. As time went on the monument fell into neglect and disuse, some of its stones fell over while others were taken away."
 http://www.livescience.com/22427-stonehenge-facts.html

I noticed instantly the Jackdaws and Rooks swooping low over our heads, and leaping from stone to stone. Almost as though they were drawn there to guard and protect. Later I discovered a few websites which also describe this phenomena.






Indeed, they have made their nests below the lintels of the stones for many years. Who knows how long they have been the true custodians of Stonehenge. 
As a person with an affinity for Crows, Ravens, Rooks & Jackdaws, it was lovely to watch them glide overhead & gather in groups as though letting us all know that we were 'under surveillance' but welcome nonetheless. 
One of the security guards was busy feeding 2 Rooks and telling some other tourists their stories as we caught the bus back to the Visitors centre.
Had we been able to spend more time there it would have been a perfect day to walk in the surrounding fields (National Trust owned) and see the wealth of neolithic barrows and landmarks such as Woodhenge, which according to sign posts was about an hour's walk from there.
As it was, 2 hours had flown by, and we still had to be in Truro before 3.30pm.






The Exhibitions in the Visitors centre were equally engrossing. Plenty of archaeological finds including the skeleton of a 5,500 yr old man alongside a facial reconstruction.
The evolution of the site at Stonehenge is particularly interesting. From its early beginnings as a sacred burial ground with a ring of wooden poles, gradually added to over the centuries. And yet still we don't know exactly how or why it was in continuous use for so long. 
Sadly time was ticking by for us too, so we waved farewell to the magical stones of Amesbury. And continued on our journey.

CORNWALL

Truro done and Husband's meeting complete. We whisked ourselves off to the seaside town of Hayle where we purchased a very large supply of Philps Cornish Pasties. 2 for our lunch... and the rest for our freezer to polish off at leisure and to sate our Pasty withdrawal symptoms. 

 Gunwalloe beach. Just outside Helston, off the turning by RNAS Culdrose, has many memories for us.
20 years worth for me. Longer for my Husband who grew up down there.
Weekends, evenings, lunch, dinner, dog walks, summer days, winter days, coffee and a snooze between the rocks after work, you name it. 
We set out for Dollar Cove, but found it busier than usual and walked down past the church to 'Church cove' where we sat in the dunes & greedily consumed our Pasties. Its always a bittersweet event these days since our partner in crime... or the furry child we called 'Pigwig' passed away. But we remember all the years with her sat drooling on our feet or jabbing our arms with her nose so that we wouldn't forget to save some Pasty for her and it makes us laugh.



We drove the 3 minutes back down the hill to Fisherman's cove for a wonderful, peaceful hour of beach combing. It was always my favourite thing to do there. Walking up and down the tide lines searching for those perfect wave worn pieces of wood. 
Nimh (pigwig) loved to come beachcombing... she would watch me rummaging in the seaweed & go off on her own rummaging expedition. Except her treasure was crab legs. Bleugh.

The afternoon passed and it was time for the long journey home. Fuel up. Settle in & head back up the Country to home. Where our next adventure awaits. :)










Comments

  1. Love all the historical info you provided, too!!! :) Amazing experience!

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  2. I've never thought of going that way to get to Cornwall (and from Derby we're going pretty much the same way) We head down the motorways, with our favourite stopping-off points being Hanbury Hall (NT), Gordano services just south of Bristol - odd, I know, but there's a footpath that leads to the village so a good place for longer than normal 'leg-stretch - and Okehampton Castle.

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  3. It's many years since I visited both Stonehenge and Cornwall. The visitor centre at Stonehenge looks as though it has some interesting exhibits but I confess that I prefer Avebury and especially West Kennet. Of course there have been many more discoveries in the larger landscape of Stonehenge since I was there so it would be interesting to explore that.

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