My weekend in London was better than I expected, but Salisbury was the big surprise of my trip to the United Kingdom. Although I had done some research for London, I was too busy with work to figure out what I wanted to see in Salisbury. I rode the underground from Paddington Station to Waterloo station to catch the train to Salisbury. Because Salisbury is not at the final destination for any of the trains I found the train announcements and the main screens above the departure gates to be confusing. They flash the intermediate stops too quickly and there are too many possible platforms to leave from. I finally found some pamphlets for the train routes and determined what the final destinations were for the trains that passed through Salisbury. Luckily I had not missed any departing trains, and I had time to grab a bite to eat before the boarding. The train was comfortable and ran on time. It took about 90 minutes to get to Salisbury. The seats were like airplane seats and did not recline much, but I ended up sleeping a little. Once I got off the train, it was easy to catch a cab to my hotel and get settled in.
The business part of my trip to the UK was starting in the morning, but I had a couple of hours to walk around Salisbury before dark. It was wet and overcast, but the rain stopped for the last couple hours of the day. Salisbury is an old place, and has retained much of the character of a quaint English village. Although they had a small “modern mall” area in the center of town, the small shops that made up the bulk of the village area of Salisbury appeared to be doing well. The drizzly, slightly cold weather just added to the feeling of visiting a typical English village. It was late afternoon, uniformed school kids were on their way home, and the shopping area was bustling. Although I did not know what to expect, and was just wandering, I definitely enjoyed every minute of the walk around Salisbury.
The combination of very old buildings from the 1200’s and the modern shops are one of the things I love about Europe and Salisbury did not disappoint me.
When I got to the edge of the shopping area I noticed a cool old wall with a gate down one of the side streets. I decided to wander that way. As I passed through the gate I could see the edge of town and an open field, so I decided to head that way. As I got to the end of the street I was in for a surprise. When I look to the left there was a huge Cathedral. The spire at Salisbury Cathedral is Britain’s tallest at 404 feet. The picture does not show the true scale of the place. It was toward the end of the day, so after a quick look around the Cathedral I headed back to my hotel, went out for a little pub fare, and then back to the room to get ready for work the next morning. We had some good Indian food after work the next couple nights. Both restaurants had good food, but if you like spicy contemporary Indian cuisine, I would recommend Anooka.
I also finally found some time to do some research on the Salisbury area. There were several historical sites nearby; Stonehenge was only about 12 miles away, and on the way back toward the London airport. Since we would be driving, and would have time, we decided to stop and see Old Sarum and Stonehenge on the way to the airport.
In just a few pictures it is hard to see what Old Sarum is, but a plaque on the grounds show the purpose of the trenches and mounds. It is a very old fortress. Click the plaque picture to read more about Old Sarum.
This was also the site of the original Cathedral for this area. There is nothing left but the foundations though because they used the material from the old Cathedral in the current Salisbury Cathedral.
View from Old Sarum toward Salisbury. It is just a couple of miles from Old Sarum to the location of the Salisbury Cathedral.
After Old Sarum we stopped at Stonehenge. This really completed the trip for me. It is a very old place, in fact the exact purpose of the place can only be guessed. We took a walking tour with headphones, but ended up walking fairly quickly as it was cold and there was a steady breeze. For me, the best parts of the audio track described the construction methods and pointed out the examples of it on the stones that were no longer in place. The talk of legends was interesting too, but I would have enjoyed them more on a warm sunny morning!
The whole purpose of planning and adding some personal time to this business trip was to do research for a possible future vacation with friends and family. I was surprised by my experiences in both London and Salisbury. I would love to share both places with my friends and family and explore even more of both areas myself.
Here are a few more pictures:
A pony in a field just outside Old Sarum.
The outer perimeter defenses were just as formidable as the inner defenses at Old Sarum.
I snapped several pictures while walking around Stonehenge. I like this angle.
OK… one more of me enjoying my research for a future vacation.
Other posts about this trip:
London (January 2012 – Paddington, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The London Eye, and The Tower of London)