#UK landmarks

Do not feed the hippies Welcome To Stonehenge

Stonehenge Winter solstice 2016

Posted by on Dec 22, 2016 in Travel, UK Landmarks and Visitor Sights

Why it makes sense to visit Stonehenge at the Solstice

I’m often at the winter and Summer solstice celebrations that take place at Stonehenge in Wiltshire – and I’m not always working; mostly i’m there just for the hell of it because there’s  something quite special about getting up early and going to such a landmark to welcome the dawn.

 

Druids gather to celebrate the solstice

Druids gather to celebrate the solstice

Each year there are two solstice celebrations – one in Summer and one in Winter and as this is the only time each year you’re allowed to touch the hallowed stones, or even get really near them, it can make sense to plan a solstice visit.

Contemplation at Stonehenge

Contemplation at Stonehenge

The solstice attracts a wide variety of folk – from druids witches and warlocks to curious tourists and families. All are welcome and the best thing is that the usual entrance fee to the stones is waived each solstice morning and entry is free.

Witches at large

Witches at large

 

pagan amongst the stones

Pagans take cover

This year there was a lot of organised singing in the centre of the stones from Shakti sings choir.

Inside the stone Circle

Inside the stone Circle

Jigging and Spinning

Jigging and Spinning

One of my fave guys to see – under the rags and colour is an accordion player who spins and plays around the stones.

A chance to touch the stones

A chance to touch the stones

Of course one of the best things about the solstice is the chance to actually touch the stones rather than walk around them via a perimeter path.

Walking amongst the stones

Walking amongst the stones

Entrance is free on solstice days as it’s an act of celebration and worship to many people. Organised parking is £5 but it’s quite possible to park in the nearby village of Larkhill for free and simply walk about a half mile to the stones.

reveller at stonehenge

The sun in winter is low and cool

Moss and lichen on stones

Moss and lichen are clear

 

Moss on monoliths

Moss on the monoliths

The Drove at Stonehenge

The Drove at Stonehenge

One of the main semi-public thoroughfares near the stones is called the drove  – and hard-core devotees can arrive early and park up and overnight for free. There’s no shortage of good humour as this home-made sign makes clear…

The drove leads pretty much from Larkhill village straight to the stones. If you park up in Larkhill simply follow the other revellers down the drove, or listen for the sounds of the drumming for directions …

 

Do not feed the hippies

Welcome To Stonehenge

 

Happy Solstice!

One route into the mendip hills

Rock of Ages – Burrington Combe

Posted by on Aug 11, 2016 in Travel, UK Landmarks and Visitor Sights

I pass through the beautiful Mendip Hills in somerset quite frequently but this time stopped to photograph the cleft in a rock face that was the inspiration for the hymn ‘Rock of Ages’.

Burrington

The Rock of Ages is just to the right
Photo by G Pollard/Films.Gb

There’s a cleft or large fissure in the rock face to the right that’s said to have given shelter to the Reverend Augustus Montague Toplady during a severe storm of 1763. He was a preacher in the nearby village of Blagdon and was caught out in the rain on this route, where, presumably with a bit of time on his hands to contemplate the meaning of life he scribbled the initial lyrics down.

 

The fissure – which is very evident in the picture below is now marked with anengraving on the nearby rock face.

Rock of Ages cleft

The cleft in the rock that gave shelter and inspiration for the Hymn Rock of Ages
Photo by G Pollard/Films.Gb

Rock of Ages

Inspiration for the well known hymn
Photo by G Pollard/Films.Gb

 

Whether its’ strictly true or not – it’s still great tale, and reminds me a bit of the one about Robert the Bruce and the Spider…..