Some things are better in winter. Sure, snorkeling around a fabulous reef next to a tropical beach has a lot to recommend it and nobody is going to turn down a frosty frozen margarita after a day in Cancun. Warm weather has its place, but in a lot of places King Winter reigns. Winter is better-suited to mystery; the hard glitter of frost on the countryside crackling in thin, brittle sunrise shed a haunting light on the inexplicable. So it is with Stonehenge.
Acting on a tip from a friend, we reserved space in the Stone Circle Access Tour. This allowed us inside the inner circle to examine the stones and structure of the megaliths as closely as possible–without actually touching them, which we were emphatically warned not to do. The catch? You have to arrive at 8am, which is not a horribly scary hour, but you should probably avoid too many pints the night before. There are sunset tours in the summer, but I’m guessing it’s not the same. The rocks and fields just won’t have that frosty, untouchable sunrise glimmer.
Admittedly, our approach to Stonehenge was unremarkable. I felt a little disappointed that it’s just…RIGHT THERE, looking for all the world like someone plopped it next to the road without thought instead of the other way around. Stonehenge is right off a nondescript highway, guarded by men in neon yellow vests and surrounded by barbed wire. I was expecting a little more drama in the lead-up; it’s as inviting as a prison gate. But once you come out of the tunnel…
In the early morning hours, seeing the circle through the fog of your own breath, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the possibilities of Stonehenge: the drama of its creation and the people responsible, the enduring mystery of its purpose. Bring mittens, leave a mug of warm coffee in the car, and take your time: this is a winter tale worth immersing yourself in.