England's Ancient South: Stonehenge & Salisbury

    Updated: Jan 21, 2018



    It's been on my bucket list since I can remember, and at long last, a trip to Stonehenge was on the cards: And yes, this happened to be to be around six months ago but I didn't quite get around to writing about it. Howandever, let's take a step back in time to last summer when I departed the streets of Portsmouth, to take a trip into history.


    I step off the train at Salisbury station and the first thing that my eyes catch is Britain's tallest cathedral spire; the second is a sex shop! Salisbury was named the loveliest town in the UK, and frankly, I can't disagree: I haven't explored UK towns all too much, but this does look inviting.


    It's early Sunday morning and I need to charge my phone and top up on coffee, so I pop into the first place I see and what a good choice it was. Fisherton Warehouse, a brand new haunt with the just-painted-feel, topped off with an array of stunning, abstract paintings, potentially sourced from a weed smoking grifter or, possibly, a child prodigy finger painter—not quite sure. I peruse them while my flat white is being poured by a bearded man.




    And there's a woman. A woman of an age I can't determine, wearing a yellow, polka-dot mini dress, white gogo boots, perfectly complemented by a yellow headband—looking somewhere between Twiggy and Ali MacGraw, circa 1964. She'd look out of place here if not for the retro, vintage, monochrome decor and adulatory music. It turns out, she also runs the vintage clothing shop on the second—and third—floor of the building.


    The impressive space boasts a healthy selection of stylish garments, accessories, homewares, and vinyl. Next stop...take me to church! After sauntering through mesmerising medieval streets, cobbled paths, and green lush lawns, I land at the Goliath and widespread grounds of Salisbury Cathedral.

    It houses the world's oldest clock, the original Magna Carta (for those of you who don't know what that is—like me—it's an important historical document. That's it in a nutshell!)—and some very lovely quills! A truly magnificent feat of architecture, the Anglican structure was crafted from 450 tonnes of lead, 70,000 tonnes of stone, 3,000 tonnes of timber. Pretty snazzy and worth a look if you're at a loose end in town.


    Approx 15 km outside Salisbury lies the historic Stonehenge, an ancient site shrouded in mystery and lore given ambiguous past. I had a romantic notion that I would be the only one at the site, and might stop off in the middle of the stone circle for a little meditation. Not likely. There's a specific circular path surrounding the attraction, with hoards of travellers walking clinically around the site taking Inst pics and selfies. Not that I don't love a good selfie, but what did I expect?


    But no, as I walked around Stonehenge, moving off slightly to the side, finding a spot of tranquillity in a sea of snap happy tourists, I began to notice something outside the megalithic monument—the space around it. As Stonehenge was built in the middle of a sprawling green plain, you can't help but be captured by what's all around you, not just the main attraction. You're very much in the centre of...something. Arguably, the most famous prehistoric structures in the world; it's a most worthwhile visit.

    The Salisbury—Stonehenge bus runs on the hour and is not at all cheap at a relatively pricey £35 return. Book your ticket at thestonehengetour.info or buy them directly from the driver. My driver was specifically cool and said hello to everyone in their native language, bar me—although, in fairness, I can't remember how to say 'Hello' in Irish most of the time.

    Copyright The Bearded Irishman 2019

    Rights to original content belong to Darragh Mullooly

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