England - Round The World Tour 2 2003 Day 148

Bath

Thursday 7th August

We awoke this morning to the familiar sounds of a camp-site as the rest of the campers stirred around us. Kids were running around playing and people were waking up and going about their regular morning rituals. It was all very reminiscent of the camping we used to do when we lived in Holland years ago. We are starting to feel like we are on holiday again.

After a very nice pancake breakfast, we packed up and set off again. Having studied the English Heritage literature that we received yesterday at Stonehenge, we had a better idea of what we wanted to see today and left the camp-site with a clear plan of where to go. The first stop would be just up the road at Woodhenge. It was just as enigmatic as Stonehenge if only a little less impressive. Several concentric rings of stones mark the locations of wooden embers from long ago. As is the case with Stonehenge, nobody is too sure about what the exact meaning of the baffling concentric circles is. Yet another unsolved mystery continues to remain unsolved in the middle of the British countryside.

We left Woodhenge and turned south. Just a few miles down the road lay the ruins of Old Sarum castle – another English Heritage site. Not much of the castle remains save for a few eroded walls and the outline of a cathedral. We wandered around for a while and tried to imagine what it must have been like living in another time several hundred years ago. English Heritage does a good job of maintaining dozens of ruins such as this one up and down the country.

Next up was another castle ruin, but this time a much more intact one that still has much of its structure in place. We took the scenic route and did our best to stick to the winding country lanes. The British countryside is so much more enjoyable compared to the dull and boring motorway system that provides little in the way of anything worthwhile to look at as you drive along. Old Wardour Castle is accessible only to the very persistent of tourists as it is extremely far removed from the main road arteries. We travelled along a number of winding country lanes which became progressively narrower and narrower. During the last couple of miles of the journey the brick was scrapping the trees and bushes on either side of the road simultaneously. We had several interesting encounters with oncoming traffic that had to either back up or wedge themselves far enough off the road to allow up to pass. The journey was worth it, however, as we were rewarded with an absolutely stunning castle ruin that we explored for the remainder of the afternoon. As was the case with Stonehenge, we were provided with audio listening devices that explained the history of the castle in great detail as we walked in and around the ruin.

Having explored every last nook and cranny of Old Wardour Castle, we slowly made our way towards Bath. We stopped just a few miles short of the ancient city to set up camp at a very nice camp-ground set in the grounds of a very old yet still functioning farm. The remarkably well-preserved old farm buildings together with a freshwater creek that drives a water mill all combine to make this an idyllic setting to spend the remainder of the day and night. At just £8 for the night it is also very good value.

Tomorrow we will take on the historic city of Bath. After that, who knows?

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