Stonehenge & Woodhenge Two Men, No Plans, Bit of Time - Day 1
So I picked up bellend- knobface aka Tubbatha aka Silverback on a beautiful Tuesday summers evening (10th July) and as we drove off to fill up on fuel had absoutlely no idea where we were going to go.
We chucked about a few suggestions Inverness, France, Cornwall and came to the decision that we would use night one as a recce to Stonehenge ahead of some friends coming over in the Summer from the States. Would it be possible to spend the night close to the Stones if the Americans fancied it one evening?... well lets find out.
Arriving around 9pm Here's what we discovered having spoken to an onsite security guard.
1. The Drove - the old road alongside Stonehenge has just been closed off in an 18 month experiment - yeah right! In an experiment to see if the National Trust can milk even more money out of forcing people to use official car parks.
2. You can park up in one of the two car park spaces outside the official car parking area - but - whilst the Security cannot stop you from camping night in them they don't encourage it - that sounds like a possibility.
3. The walk to the Stones from the 2 car parking spaces is about a mile and a half.
4. A trip to Woodhenge was recommended - which pricked our ears as we had never been there before!
By all accounts Woodhenge is around 2500 years old. Being made of wood it no longer exists so in its place concrete posts have been erected to display where the wooden posts would once have been. Towards the middle is a flint mound. It is thought this is the burial place of a young child.
For our first night of wild camping, we were assured by many that there was a small lay-by near to Woodhendge where we could park up and sleep the night. There was indeed a lay-by but alas, whilst there were three spaces, two and half were already taken and it looked reasonably certain that the large converted Luton van taking up space number two and half would be full of murderers, vagabonds and thieves, so parking next to it looked less appealing than say 'finding somewhere else'. So we upped anchor and set sail in search of a place to park up for the night.
My companion on this magical mystery tour, with an unknown destination and an unknown duration, was my brother in law (BIL) who for reasons fairly obvious when you meet him we shall call 'Silverback'.
My BIL is a 6 foot 5 mountain of a man with silver hair, a fantastic sense of humour and stunningly creative. He has a reassuring size and would be useful if anyone should try to burgalise or break into the van. Being a fireman/paramedic he is also pretty useful should I get a splinter in my finger of similar. So for me a perfect companion.
Now a Silverback gorilla is the mature, experienced male leader of mountain gorillas in the wild. Named for the silver saddles across his back, the silverback is responsible for the safety of his group. A silverback decides where the troop travels, where it forages for food, where it will rest and where it will sleep at night.
Being a complete virgin at any form of 'Wild Camping' I thought this massive beast of a brother in law would tick many of the 'I need someone to protect and look after me whilst I learn the ropes' boxes.
Stonehenge Camping and caravanning Park
Getting dark we decided to follow some signs for a campsite and eventually after a bit of a drive ended up at the Stonehenge Camping and Caravanning Park. A small site that for £22 for the night offered a space and a hook up. Sadly our lead was not long enough so we went for the £18 basic stopover. However, we had Cider, Beer, Red wine and sausages on board so life was simply dandy. We opened a bottle of two whilst the sausages cooked and settled down for what we hoped would be a peaceful night under the stars.
Unbeknownst to us, we had inadvertently parked up next to one of the favourites in the upcoming 'European Snoring Championship' and through his tent his wild noises could be heard for miles around. We chuckled for a while as we eventually fell asleep into an alcohol induced coma.
The morning arrived and we were both alive and reasonably well rested. As usual on these adventures we spent a few hours breakfasting, chewing the cud and discussing possibilities for the day ahead. First of course there was some washing up to attend to and off Silverback trotted pots and pans under his arm.
I spent a bit of time checking out some of the either vans and inhabitants. One topless, tattooed, handle-bar moustached guy was sitting outside what looked to be a huge mobile home on wheels next to a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I smiled as I walked past and said something like "What a great motorhome, that can't be just for you surely?" and that was it..... "Well it is now" he said in a melancholy way "My wife took off and left me taking the dog with her"... "Man I miss that dog" he laughed.
What felt like a few hours passed as the guy talked at me, flexing his muscles and looking all...well... manly. "How do you fancy taking a look inside?" he said "Yea that'd be great" I replied... suddenly aware as I walked up the steps with him behind me that if this man was luring me into his cabin to kill and skin me I'd just gleefully accepted. I'm sure my Mum had warned me of such things. Anyway, just at that moment clanking the pots and pans old Silverback appeared cheerfully singing away to himself. Saved... from an almost certain death! The motorhome was indeed a very very impressive beast - although not sure I'd like one for the small windy old roads around the countryside.
....and a nice little stopover with good running showers and washing up area if you're ever in the area.
"Where to next? I've got an idea" I said and started up the motor....