Friday morning, I met Ariel at Waterloo Station for the beginning of our grand adventure. I had packed my big MEC backpack with more stuff than I probably needed. I only had 2 days of clothing packed, but when you added on travel games, the Chronicles of Narnia, my laptop (to watch movies), and my Gore-Tex pants it was pretty heavy. Luckily, it’s a good pack and most of the weight sat comfortably on my hips.
When we got off the train at Salisbury we were greeted by classic British weather – fine misty rain. Undeterred, we jumped on a bus to Stonehenge and Old Sarum. Stonehenge was a pretty impressive sight. I was prepared to be disappointed, but was pleasantly surprised. What is left of the original structure is in pretty rough shape, but the size and presence of the giant rocks is still imposing. It was kind of eerie watching a group of ravens hopping around the edge of the structure. None of them would sit on any of the actual rocks, like they were avoiding them out of reverence or fear.
After Stonehenge we went to Old Sarum, the large ruins of a fort and castle that was originally built 5000 years ago and inhabited by various groups throughout history. Old Sarum was way better than Stonhenge: it was cheaper to enter, void of other tourists, and was completely open to explore. There were only a few other people there walking their dogs, and it felt more like I was touring a local park than a historic sight. It was great being able to walk around without regard to other people or barriers. By the time we arrived at Old Sarum the misty rain had turned too downpour that the strong wind whipped into your face. I threw on my Gore-Tex pants and just soaked it all in, but Ariel spent most of the time there in the guest shop. She was a bit annoyed at the weather, but was kind enough to let me explore and take pictures until I was ready to go. Old Sarum was really cool and standing on the old battlements overlooking Salisbury with the wind blowing in my face and trying to topple me from my lofty perch was definitely the highlight of the trip.
When we got back to Salisbury we wandered around downtown and then grabbed dinner at this really good gastro pub, the Haunch of Venison. The food was delicious, but the cool part was seeing the mummified hand that belongs to the Demented Whist Player. Supposedly he cheated while playing cards, had his hand chopped off, and now haunts the pub.