There seems little point in having a day off, having an inspirational morning visiting a library, bookshop and art class, and then driving past Stonehenge to get home in order to go for a walk. I had boots, a hat, walking poles, and the only regrettable bit of attire was the jeans. I parked, put my boots on, and waved my English Heritage card at the right people.
I did the decent Janathon thing and walked from the Visitors Centre to the stones via the barrows. Which made the whole enterprise a lot more enjoyable than going straight down the road. There was no-one much about, I missed most of the large groups as they vanished over the horizon complaining of the cold (in fairness, it wasn’t sunbathing weather). It was good to have time to think, and I remembered how the first sense I got of vocation to the priesthood was an enormous sense of urgency, but not knowing what I was supposed to do with it. I’ve finally landed in a place where I do know what to do with it, some 15 years later. (12 of those years have been spent discerning, training, serving curacy). That’s not long in compared with the 4,500 year timescale of the landscape around Stonehenge.
Although most people head straight for the stones, and thence to the gift shop and restaurant, I love the barrows. It’s salutary to remember how hard it would have been to shift the earth, and how much they stuck out noticeably in the landscape. People built them because they cared. And that’s the thing with Stonehenge. We might not get why it was built, or how it was built, or how it was used. But people put that much effort into a landscape because they thought it was important. I don’t find Stonehenge a particularly prayerful place – there are always too many people. But it does offer a sense of connection with the people who lived here so very long ago.
Distance: 1.92 miles
Pace: from brisk to meandering
Number of people speaking English: more than I expected
Number of people smiling as they had photos taken: many