Exploring the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
Both Stonehenge and Avebury offer far more than their stone circles. They encompass unrivalled Neolithic landscapes that contain many other fascinating and unique monuments. You could easily spend a whole day in either part of the World Heritage Site.
Stonehenge is in the care of English Heritage. It is located off the A303, close to Amesbury, 16km from Salisbury. It is accessible by bus from Salisbury train station. For opening times, directions and prices, visit English Heritage
Avebury is in the care of the National Trust and English Heritage. It is located on the A4361, around 10 km from Marlborough, 14 km from Devizes and 18 km from Swindon. There are regular bus services to Avebury from these towns. Swindon is a mainline train station. It is free to access large parts of the landscape at Avebury although there is a charge for the museums and parking.
There are more environmentally friendly ways to travel to Stonehenge & Avebury than by car and they’re usually a lot more fun. You’ll also help to keep the World Heritage Site beautiful by minimising parking congestion. Be environmentally friendly and leave the car, catch a train, catch the bus, ride a bike or walk.
By combining buses and trains, which have links from stations at Salisbury, Swindon, Pewsey and Trowbridge, the public transport network makes it possible to leave the car at home wherever you are coming from.
Why not take a look at the Connecting Wiltshire website which has a travel plan tool and information on how to get around Wiltshire by cycle, bus and train. If you are travelling around Wiltshire on different bus routes with different bus operators and you are not entitled to free transport, you might want to consider buying a Wiltshire Day Rover ticket on the first bus you board.
If cycling, Sustrans are a national organisation with over 30 years’ experience of developing and delivering practical, cost-effective initiatives that enable many more people to travel by foot, bike or public transport. Why not explore their website to find out how you can visit the area by bike?
Days out in the World Heritage Site
Why not visit both parts of the Stonehenge and Avebury WHS? The best way to appreciate both sites is on foot. You can enjoy the impressive Wiltshire countryside while exploring the ancient history that has shaped it.
At Stonehenge, look for the information boards placed at key monuments in the landscape. Why not stop at Fargo Plantation when you take the visitor shuttle and use the information boards there to help you explore the surrounding landscape, walking towards the Cursus, Cursus Barrows, King Barrows and the Avenue. The orientation leaflet you receive with your tickets at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre shows key monuments in the landscape.
At Avebury you can walk along the West Kennet Avenue between parallel standing stones, and turn right up Waden Hill for a wonderful view of Silbury Hill – the largest prehistoric artificial mound in Europe.
Publications on walks are available from the Stonehenge Visitor Centre shop, at Avebury, from the National Trust and the Henge shop. You can also find an interactive map of the Stonehenge landscape on the English Heritage website and circular walks around Stonehenge on the National Trust website. Find suggestions for exploring Avebury on the Ridgeway National Trails website.
If you want to explore both parts of the WHS by car you can find instructions here (Directions from Stonehenge visitor centre to Avebury) on how to drive from Stonehenge to Avebury via Devizes, the home of the Wiltshire Museum. Just reverse the directions if you are travelling from Avebury.
Helping you to Explore the WHS
There are a number of ways to help you explore the prehistoric landscape of the Stonehenge and Avebury WHS.
Why not purchase “Exploring the World Heritage Site – Stonehenge & Avebury” from English Heritage? There is no better way to learn about and experience the monuments than to go out and explore the World Heritage Site on foot. This map is ideal for walkers and others wishing to explore the fascinating landscapes of Stonehenge and Avebury. The map uses an Ordnance Survey 1:10,000 base and draws upon information from the English Heritage Archive and recent archaeological investigations. With Stonehenge on one side and Avebury on the other, the map shows and describes both visible and hidden remains with information about where you can find out more.
Wiltshire Council has produced Bus Walks – an introduction to bus walks in the Salisbury area. This publication features walks around Stonehenge and is available on the Wiltshire Council website.
Wiltshire Council is responsible for the rights of way in the area and more can be found out about them on their website.
The National Trust has downloadable self guided walks of the Stonehenge Landscape and at Avebury there are publications available in the museum and gift shop.
VisitWiltshire have a number of walks on their website. Walks 12 and 13 explore the southern and less well known part of the Stonehenge WHS. VisitWiltshire also have a page on cycling routes in the County – have a look at routes 1 and 4!
The Ridgeway National Trail is a great way to get to Avebury. Following a route used since prehistoric times by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers the 87 mile long Ridgeway passes through ancient landscapes through downland, secluded valleys and woodland.
In November 2013 Channel 4’s Walking Through History with Tony Robinson featured a walk from Avebury to Stonehenge. Click here to download their walking guide.
We would love to hear your favourite route around the World Heritage Site – Contact us with the details.