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Which Stonehenge, Avebury tour to choose?

I'll be in Cardiff next week for 5 days, then on to London for 2 weeks. I plan to visit Bath from Cardiff, going by train. I'd like to see Stonehenge and Avebury also, but don't want to crowd those in with Bath. International Friends has 2 tours from London which include them both, each including some other sights. Both sound interesting and I don't know which to choose. 'Mysteries of Ancient Britain' adds; Old Sarum Castle, Salisbury Cathedral, a neolithic burial chamber in West Kennet and Silbury Hill. 'King Arthur's Realm' adds; Glastonbury Tor and Abbey, Chalice Well Gardens, Silbury Hill, the Devils Chair and Barber-Surgeon Stone. ALSO, can these be booked from the London Ti? I don't have my plans firmed up and didn't want to have to book from here on the internet unless I have to. Thanks!!!

Posted by
1826 posts

I think "Mysteries of Ancient Britain" offers more, but it depends on what else you are seeing. Mysteries gives you Salisbury Cathedral which is beautiful. You can also see the Magna Carta there. Are you seeing other cathedrals? If you choose this, you might want to read Sarum or Pillars of the Earth, both tell you lots about Salisbury Cathedral.

"Realm" offers Glastonbury Abbey which is an atmospheric ruin. If you get lousy weather, you won't get to see as much with Realm--it's mostly outdoors. I am a big King Arthur fan, but if you want Arthurian sites you should be combining Glastonbury with Tintagel, Cadbury Hill, and Dozmary Pool.

Posted by
9110 posts

Some of the things you list are real and some are obviously myth.

Silbury Hill is essentially across the road from the West Kennet Long Barrow. Both are within walking distance of Avebury. Those are the ones I'd really suggest you see, Avebury most of all. Stonehenge is no big deal, but if it's on both tours, you're going to see it.

The whole area's only a half hour from Bath. You could drive it in a half day, easy, including lunch. I know nothing about tours since I've always done it myself.

Posted by
9110 posts

There's close to a thousand UNESCO sites. You don't have to be excited by them all. Also, there was no attempt to discourage visiting Stonehege.

The West Kennet Long Barrow is the best example of it's kind in the UK, Avebury is the largest stone cirlce in the UK and is only rivaled by Carnac. Silbury bills itself as the largest man-made hill in the world. Nuff said.

Posted by
291 posts

Of the International Friends Tours the Ancient Britain tour is the best tour. The Galstonbury tour is a very long day and invariably runs late with the last stop at Avebury often curtailed to get you back to London at a reasonable time. The Ancient Britain tour also has time to visit West Kennet Longbarrow and go inside that and the ancient irin age hill fort at Old Saru. Its also quite scenic going down the Woodford Valley and similar and you'll see some of the best of the English countryside. The Glastonbury tour because of time pressures consists of mainly blasts down main highways by passing a lot of the good stuff down the country lanes.

Another cheaper alternative is a Mad Max tour from Bath. They have a daily tour that visits both Avebury and Stonehenge which are closer to Bath than London.

Posted by
571 posts

"Impressive as Stonehenge is, there comes a moment somewhere about eleven minutes after your arrival when you realize your fascination has peaked, and you spend another forty minutes walking around the perimeter rope looking at it only out of a combination of politeness, reluctance at being the first from your bus to leave, and a desire to get
£ 2.80 worth of exposure from the experience."
--Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island. (Exactly true, except now the visit costs more.)

That said, I'm glad I can say I saw it in person, and the Mad Max Tour was terrific. Our driver took us to a nice little pub afterward, too.

Posted by
11507 posts

Bill Bryson so hit that on the head,, only now its more like 10 GBP!

I think there are tours that hit it at sunrise and give you more peaceful and closer assess,, personally I wouldn't pay for that ( hey I didn't even pay for the regular assess, but got great shots from the perimeter fence, LOL ) So if one ws really into it one could have a decent experience I suppose.

Posted by
2783 posts

I would suggest Mysteries of Ancient Britain...have a great trip.

Posted by
1464 posts

Sometimes, you don't have to book a tour to see the sites. Often you can catch a bus that is timed to the train. Check which station is nearest Stonehenge.
It is something you should see once. Avebury is a different kind of experience because you can walk around the stones; but you need more imagination because the biggest circle (actually a ditch) is more spread out. Salisbury Cathedral is a good stop to see a real edition of the Magna Carta. I believe both these places can be stop overs from Bath to London or vice versa. Check with the Tourist Information Offices for more info. They are often in or near the train stations.

Posted by
349 posts

I went on a small bus van tour and would gladly pay for small bus group

Posted by
993 posts

You know if you plan for it long enuf in advance you can go inside the ropes at Stonehenge AND you don't have to dodge the sheep poo.

Posted by
1 posts

When Rick Steves said that Stonhenge, "looks just like it looks" I knew right away that he has yet to take the Salisbury and Stonhenge Guided Tour with Pat Shelly. I can understand how people might remain
unimpressed by Stonehenge if they take any other tour because being herded to stand behind a rope in a large group isn't my idea of a good time. Pat takes you inside the stone circle with special access in a small group of about six people. You'll have plenty of time to wander and feel like you're by yourself inside the monument. It's an incredible experience to stand so close to the stones! Besides participating in the archeological digs near Stonehenge, Pat has contributed to a variety of books and television shows. He's not only an expert on the area, but he truly loves it which lends his expert teachings an infectious quality. Pat puts Stonehenge in context and brings it and the people who built it to life. I can't recommend that you take this tour enough!

Posted by
124 posts

Thanks for remembering, Ed- I am indeed long back. Being uncertain, I ended going by train from London then taking the Stonehenge Tour in the double-decker red and black bus that waits right outside the station in Salisbury (no reservation needed). It cost about 18 pounds and I found it to be quite adequate. The trip to Stonehenge is narrated with historical information about Salisbury and other places of interest along the way. At Stonehenge, the driver parks near the entry and the driver gets out and walks you through the turnstile, past all the people waiting in line to buy tickets. You pick up your audio tour headset, then walk around the stones at your own pace. Stonehenge is much smaller than I had imagined and in several places you are quite close to the stones so I really didn't feel cheated that I couldn't go inside. When I was ready to leave, I walked across the road and up a small hill to some nearby mounds. The red and black buses come often to take you back. The bus also stops at Old Sarum (entry included in tour) for those who wish to explore there. On the drive back the driver pointed out a number of other barrows and mounds. Once in Salisbury, the bus stops at the market square for those who wish to see the town or go the the cathedral. You can re-board for the train station later or make the short walk. I am glad that I saved time for Salisbury Cathedral as it is stunning! All together, it was an enjoyable day. On another trip, I will take a tour for some of the other ancient sites, but I am glad to have seen Stonehenge.

Posted by
1986 posts

Thanks for the update. I enjoy Salisbury and Stonehenge but somehow missed the info about the black and red busses. good to know