A few days after we arrived in London we took a day trip through Viator to Stonehenge and Bath. It takes a little over 2 hours to get to Stonehenge by bus or car from London. As far as I know there is no way to get there by train, so going by bus and taking the tour seemed like the best option. If you read my travel posts you probably know we love Viator tours, this was however our first flop!
Stonehenge is surrounded by English farmland, you can see fields of grass and wildflowers, and it is beautiful in a rustic way. To preserve the natural beauty of the area the parking lot is set off quite a ways and you must shuttle over, or you can walk if you have time.
There has been a lot of restoration of the stones over the years. Many if not all of the stones at some point have been moved and straightened. Over the years stones have fallen over, so now they have been set in concrete. You can look at the base of a few of the stones and tell they have been altered.
Vandalism used to be a huge problem here, people would write on the stones or break off pieces of stone for souvenirs. So fences were placed around the stones to protect them, although I’ve heard throughout the years they’ve allowed some people go in and actually touch the stones.
It was most crowded at the start point where the busses let off, as we began to walk around the stones the crowds cleared off some. At this point we started to really enjoy ourselves and started taking photos of the stones. It was somewhere around this point that I became obsessed with the 2 birds on top of the stones. They never moved the entire time we were there. At first I was irritated they were ruining our photos, then I started to like them.
We named them both Birdhenge. We took many photos of Birdhenge. Can you spot both birds?
Then Brian saw Sprinklerhenge.
50 bird and sprinkler photos later we arrived toward the end of the Stonehenge loop, and this side is the most picturesque. Say hi to the birds!
Now it was at this time Brian said “We better hurry up and get back on the bus with the tour group.” “Do we have time to go inside the giftshop?” I asked. “No.” “Do we have time to grab a snack? I’m starving.” “No.” “Ok, well I need to go to the restroom.” “Ok, but hurry the tour is leaving in minutes.” “How can this be?” I wondered. We spent maybe 30 minutes walking around Stonehenge and that was us hurrying, I could have spent a lot longer time out there.
So while I got in the long restroom line Brian quickly took photos of these cool Neolithic houses below that I wanted to see. Then we RAN to our tour bus that was about to leave. When we got to the bus it was pure chaos unlike any tour I’ve seen, the tour guide seemed tired and hungover and the people had randomly switched seats. Meaning the tour guide was confused, people were upset that families suddenly had to sit apart and it was a mess. People were also out of breath from frantically running to get back on the tour bus.
SO WHAT WENT WRONG? A lot of things, first of all the the tour schedule was way too tight. Second, for whatever reason our bus left a good 20 minutes late and we did NOT get that time back – unrelated: the bus was also old, hot, and smelled like cauliflower.
Stonehenge was extremely crowded with annoying tourists, which is understandable – we are them ourselves – but riding the shuttle busses over to Stonehenge took forever. We spent most of our time waiting to ride the shuttle bus to and from the Stonehenge parking lot, the lines were so long and the busses were not constant. The tour did not account for that which was incredibly frustrating. These issues could easily be dealt with if you just go tour the stones on your own, or find a tour that gives you a good 3 hours, start to finish.
We were at Stonehenge an hour and a half and probably spent an hour total just waiting in line for the shuttles. Yeah, there was an option to walk but the trail was so far that you can’t even see the stones from where the shuttle picks up. A man on our tour was about to pass out from running it 30 minutes each way. The following picture is the line waiting to get on the shuttle to go to the stones.
Luckily our next stop in Bath, wasn’t very far away from Stonehenge. I remembered watching Samantha Brown do a feature on Bath years ago on the Travel Channel and I was genuinely excited to go. I was determined not to to be rushed or have my afternoon trip ruined. The tour guide warned us that after visiting Bath our return trip to London would take a good 3 hours possibly closer to 4 with traffic. And we heard that they don’t stop for bathroom breaks. No No No! We’d had enough. We pulled out our phones and sure enough we could take the train from Bath to London in about 90 minutes. Cha-Ching!
We arrived in Bath, visited the Roman Baths, and then disappeared. We would have told our guide we were going solo, but in a flash he was gone and we didn’t want to walk back to the bus and search for him. I do certainly hope he missed my sarcastic eye rolls on the trip back to London.
Moving on, let’s talk about Bath! The town is simply lovely and the Roman Baths are amazing and full of so much interesting history. The water is pretty dirty but it’s actually still spring fed. Inside there is a museum with so many interesting artifacts, you could really stay in there for a while looking at everything.
Outside the Roman Baths is the very lovely Bath Abbey. A street performer was playing Ava Maria and the energy from the town was amazing. Shops and restaurants are all around the area, so we went wandering the streets, in no rush. It’s what we do best.
Cheers Darling to surviving our first tour disaster!
We seem to just snack more these days rather than eat actual meals. Left, Scotch eggs with a brown sauce and right, scallops in a pesto sauce. YUM!
So would I recommend this Viator tour? Unless you’re pressed for time and want to see both places and there is literally no other option, no I wouldn’t do it. Without honesty my blog is nothing. The only thing is Stonehenge is out in the middle of nowhere, your best bet is renting a car, or finding just a Stonehenge tour where you aren’t rushed for time. There was actually another combo tour that did Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor Castle in the same amount of time. Run away!! Bath on the other hand is on the train line and it’s a very easy town to navigate.
We’ve taken many Viator tours and this has been the only horrible one, so I’d say they have a solid 90% success rate. They have online reviews, which I’ve yet to leave one, but we did fill out the online questionnaire and were pretty brutal. But other than the tour drama, we really enjoyed what time we did have in Stonehenge, and the charming little town of Bath shouldn’t be missed.