Survival Guide to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

Yes I am aware that Stonehenge is not in Cornwall. However firstly I had such a wonderful experience that I wanted to share it and secondly I could find out very little information about the proceedings before I went so I thought that anyone thinking of going another year might like to read my top tips!

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So this is it – the season has rolled round again and we are now heading towards Autumn and ultimately Winter. Not the best thought when we are all just getting used to the sun on our shoulders and the sand between our Cornish toes.

This solstice the beautiful weather meant that the longer days leading up to the 21st seemed even longer than usual. On the spur of the moment we decided to go and watch the sunrise over the stones of England’s most iconic ancient site.

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We drove up from Cornwall the day before and joined an estimated 13,000 people for this special event. English Heritage’s information about the arrangements had not been too clear but we knew we could park there over night. I had rung and spoken to one of their advisors who was very helpful but couldn’t really answer all my questions as he had never been to the event himself.

It was a really wonderful experience and I am so glad that I took the time and trouble to do it.

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The real highlight for me and something that I will always hold dear was being able to walk amongst and touch the stones, it was magical, especially leaning against them in the first light of the longest day and feeling the warmth coming from them from yesterdays sun. But this post is about the practicalities, as I said I found it really hard to get information, so here it is:

  • This is a free event. From 7pm solstice eve to 8am Solstice day there is no entrance charge to Stonehenge but if you bring a car/van you pay £15 to park overnight. (£5 for a motorbike.)
  • There are strict rules on entrance to the stones. No tents, no sleeping bags, no campfires, no drugs, no alcohol, no large bags and they do search you on the way into to the site. You can take blankets/yoga mats to sit on.
  • If you have a camper bring it, if you are in a car be prepared you have 3 choices: a) you can stay up all night, b) you can sleep on a blanket near to the stones or c) you can sleep in your car, (there is no camping/sleeping on the ground in the carpark).
  • The car park is very large but once its full its full.

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  • Do bring plenty of water, food and warm clothes (just in case). There is one drinking water stand pipe for everyone and it is a long way from the car park.
  • There are buses through the night from Amesbury.
  • Don’t forget a torch, ear plugs (if you are planning on sleeping!), in car-chargers for phones etc or spare batteries and toilet paper, there are plenty of porta loos but with 13,000 people . . .
  • The stones are about 3/4 mile walk from the car park but there is disabled parking near the visitor centre and a small bus runs from there.
  • This was a really chilled event, everyone just happy to be there so alcohol wasn’t something I missed, however although there was a very strict policy for around the stones I did see people drinking in the car park so if you need a night cap have it there.

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  • There is limited food and hot drinks (some vegan & veggie) available from a handful of vans that stay open all night.
  • This felt a very safe event, there were police doing spot checks on cars arriving, bag checks and metal detectors and also a lot of security looking out for everyone and protecting the stones from over enthusiastic revellers.
  • Don’t be put of thinking you have to be a hippy or a druid. This event attracts a really diverse crowd, young and old, pagan and professional and I also saw lots of children. This is about celebrating life!
  • If you go with someone make a plan for when you loose each other – makes sure children have a mobile number written down or have an agreed meeting place.

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  • Above all don’t forget to set your alarm: we left our car at 3.50am and with the big crowd all trying to get through the security if took around 45mins to get into the stones.
  • Enjoy it! It really is a blessing to experience these magnificent stones at such a wonderful moment!

9 thoughts on “Survival Guide to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

  1. Before I read you first sentence I wondered “did they somehow move Stonehenge?” Sounds great. I saw it 45 years ago, though not for the solstice. Very impactful then.

  2. Great advice. I went there a few years ago with a small group and we paid for an hour inside the stones after hours. It was a great experience. I don’t think I’d like a crowd of 13,000, though!

  3. You can find out a little more about Stonehenge, Bath and Stanton Drew via the link below. And of course there is the massive stone ring at Avebury and nearby Silbury Hill. Stanton Drew was supposedly the ‘University of the Druids’ – it also claims links to Arthurian Legend being the supposed site of the ‘Sword in the Stone’. This neatly links back to Cornwall and Dozmary Pool ‘Excalibur’ and the ‘Lady of the Lake:

    https://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/bath-and-its-druidical-fancy/

    Nearby Glastonbury Tor also links back to Cornwall not just through Arthurian legend but also to its juxtaposition to the St Michael Ley Line which starts at St Michaels Mount and also touches Brentor on Dartmoor.

    Clive

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