Travel With Bender

Uncovering the best family holidays

United Kingdom

Peeling Back The Layers Of Mystery Around Stonehenge

In the days before pen and paper, before the wheel, before recorded history dating some 5000 years ago, someone with passion and strength beyond measure, created Stonehenge.

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The English Bus

The English Bus was our choice for a day trip outside of London. It had been on both of our bucketlists for a long time and when we found ourselves with a few extra days in London we both knew Stonehenge was on the books.

At £74 each the tour is not cheap. It is also not expensive compared to some of the other tour companies we researched. However this is a full day with visits to Stonehenge, Bath and a few secret places, making it money well spent.

One of the reasons we choose The English Bus is because they cap the tours at 16 people. This is not a colossus coach rumbling down a freeway. It’s a minivan taking hidden back streets, one-way alleyways and intimate touring.

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Our guide, Andrew, was a hilarious man, born to sit in a tour seat. He picked us up outside Kensington station and we claimed the back seats. Once Andrew had everyone on his list we were off. His witty banter and fast-flowing jokes, as we zipped through London, kept us all on our toes and permanent smiles plastered on our faces.

Stonehenge

We had a short toilet stop on the way and grabbed a croissant for breakfast, but it didn’t seem that long until we were pulling in at Stonehenge. The tour does not include the entry fee and realistically you can see the iconic stones without paying, but if you want those picturesque views without the extreme mega camera zoom then entry is well worth it.

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Tickets were £7.20 each with under 5’s free (5-15yrs is £4.80). The cold wind and rain were making the experience less-than-perfect as we wandered through the gates, down a tunnel and along a path, but all of a sudden there they stood. And the dark clouds and dampness only seem to add to the mystery of them.

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The closest you can get is when you first see it. You can’t touch them. There was a pathway around the circle that alternated between Peppa Pig’s muddy puddles and paved pedestrian path.

Free audio guides were provided, however while we listened to the first few the rain eagerly pushed us onwards and we decided to skip the audio. 

The stones are awe-inspiring and will not fail to impress. The grassy landscape deceives your eye without a small object to compare them against, but they are massive. Looking at them I was taken back to the giant stones we found under the earth during our Underground Wailing Wall tour in Jerusalem. Who? How? Why? Although some experts have come up with theories, a conclusive answer has never been reached and the mystery has never been solved.

As I stood in the cold wind, rain pattering on my non-waterproof jacket I just stared. What was it about rocks that was so interesting? Was it their enormous size and the fact that the wheel hadn’t been invited so moving them would have been an indescribable feat? Was it their intricate formation and the mystery surrounding who it was built for – an ancient religion steeped in cultic practices and sacrifice? Or the fact that they were quarried over 200km away and somehow transported such a great distance to this specific site?

One thing I knew as my hair whipped in front of my face, sticking there because of the rivulets of rain that dripped off my hood, was I wanted to know more.

The kids were not too fussed with the giant stones, however the muddy puddles were of the utmost fun. We didn’t stay as long as we liked as the cold was getting to us and after one lap of the path around the stones we headed back to the warmth of our bus. Naturally, the preferred times for visiting anything outdoors in the UK is Summer, but in November it was still very doable. Just make sure you bring along a couple extra layers of clothes, just in case.

Bath

Driving through the English countryside is relaxing and the hour to Bath flew by. We stopped in Bath for lunch, a walking tour (included) and a driving tour (included). We made our way to a local English pub serving delicious food and cider. We sat with our new bus mates and ended up missing our walking tour with all the wonderful conversation.

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We did a quick walk around Bath after lunch before heading back to our bus for Andrew’s driving tour. It really is part driving, part walking as you make a few stops and see the beauty of Bath.

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This quaint historic town is well worth a look and I would love to go back. I loved everything from it’s rich and affluent neighbourhoods to the buildings they placed up to keep the poor riffraff out. Many celebrities own property in Bath and it’s easy to see why, it combines the best parts of beauty, culture and history with the quiet and scenic English countryside.

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More Secrets

The English Bus website promotes their tour with promises of a “secret place” and we were actually lucky enough to go to not one, but two. By the time we left Bath the repulsive 4pm English darkness had claimed the land, but for the secret places we went it added the perfect touch of mystery.

I have been sworn to secrecy on the cloak-and-dagger locations we were taken, but I loved them as much as I loved Stonehenge and Bath and without over-stepping my loyalty and promises let me tell you if you want to feel those ancient rocks at Stonehenge you don’t need to do the expensive sunrise tours, just get yourself on The English Bus tour.

Home Time

I drifted in and out of consciousness on the way home, while the kids stayed completely unconscious for the entire trip back to central London. We were so blessed to be living in an apartment in Leicester Square and Andrew dropped us at our doorstep around 9pm.

It was a long day, but extremely enjoyable. I’d be up for more mystery tours with The English Bus next time I’m in London, how about you?

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"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett on
I love this - coming from the Dorset/Wiltshire/Somerset border these places really remind me of home. I'd pass Stonehenge every weekend and I'm sorry to report that we were always laughing at all the people with umbrellas...it does rain quite a bit there!
Glad you enjoyed Bath too - I had to visit a lot as a child as my orthodontist was there and Mum always let me take a whole day off school so we could enjoy Bath :D
Posted by Xanthe on
Hey there! Stumbled upon your blog when i was looking at the english bus company's Facebook page! I was on the same trip with your family.. My aunt and I was seated in front of your family on the bus.. It was an enjoyable trip with your kids! Best wishes for the new year! Cheers!
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