Shall I say that again?? We WILD CAMPED at STONEHENGE.
Yes, that ridiculously world-famous monument of incredibly massive stones dragged 100’s of miles by prehistoric man to be arranged in a circle and no-one really knows why. That Stonehenge.
Turns out, you can wild camp right next to it for the night. For free. Seriously, this was our view when we woke up the next morning!
How incredible is that? Here’s everything we did and how you can camp for free next to Stonehenge too. There’s also a video of this sunrise- I’ll link to it at the bottom. 🙂
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Table of Contents
Wild camping at Stonehenge
Where is Stonehenge?
Stonehenge is near Amesbury, north of the city of Salisbury, UK (SP4 7DE). It’s on a road called the A303 and it always amazes me that you can literally drive right past it and see it all from the road. Having said that, for this reason you can expect HUGE delays during the summer on the A303 as everyone slows down to take photos and have a good look. Sometimes the queues can be over an hour long, so in summer you might be better going around that area if you don’t want to stop! (Or come back later at night or early in the morning.)
What is The Drove, Stonehenge?
We were looking for a campsite near the A303 on our way to Glastonbury (so many awesome things to do in Glastonbury if you’ve never been!) and were excited to find ‘The Drove’ on searchforsites.com (here’s the link to The Drove). We LOVE this website- full of loads of great overnight stop and wild camping locations like this, right across the UK.
The Drove is a service access lane which runs right next to Stonehenge. Overnight parking is allowed and free! As far as we know, you can only access it from the A303 going East- we had to go up to the roundabout and turn around when we arrived as we were heading West and it’s not possible to get across- so bear this in mind if you’re driving from East to west… you’ll have to turn around again.
BE WARNED: the Drove is FULL of ENORMOUS potholes. Anything not secured in the van will get airborne. I actually had to hold on- the holes were massive, everything was rolling and the van was filthy afterwards. It was like being back onboard our boat. It’s worst right next to the A303 but, as you can see from the photo, it’s pretty bad all the way down! We decided to drive down and turn around so we were facing the right way to leave in the morning (or middle of the night if we were moved on- always a possibility and we weren’t sure what to expect.)
How to wild Camp for free at The Drove, Stonehenge
The Drove is a tiny lane with a rickety looking gate at the start. There is a lock on the gate but we don’t believe it was locked at all whilst we were there, which was in September. However, you might find it gets locked around the major festivals of the stones, such as the summer solstice on June 21st.
Was it really free to camp at Stonehenge? Yep- absolutely. We were prepared for someone to come around and collect some money- but nobody did. (I expect at some point someone will figure this out and change it!)
When we were there, there was probably around 10-15 other vehicles already wild camping, all stretched along a mile or so of lane. Some looked like they had been there for some time. There is loads of room and pretty much all of it has spectacular views of the stones. You can see our motorhome in the photo below- and all the other vans wild camping down the Drove.
Watching the sunrise at Stonehenge
We got up at 5am (yes, really) and braved the freezing cold- even in mid-September it was really, really chilly. I was so grateful for my mug of tea in my thermal Nespresso cup (seriously, these things are AMAZING! Keep a drink warm for hours. Check them out on Amazon here) We were amazed at such a clear and beautiful morning- it wasn’t supposed to be nice weather and the rest of the weekend was horrible, but that morning we were blessed with one of the most incredible sunrises I have EVER seen.
Flying a Drone at Stonehenge
We launched the DJI Mavic Pro (have I mentioned how much I love this drone??) This was in the days before our quiet propellors had been added so we were trying to be really quiet and not wake our van neighbours. Luckily they got up too, so we were able to talk at a normal volume.
English Heritage (the company who maintain the stones) employ security guards all night to ensure that no-one breaks in and damages Stonehenge. Part of their job is to ensure that no-one flies a drone over the Stones (Boooo!) So, of course, as soon as we launched our drone the guards ran over the field towards us and handed us a piece of paper which was supposed to look very official and terrifying.
We’d already check the Drone Assist app, (which is an app telling you where you can/ cannot fly in UK airspace. It’s BRILLIANT. If you are flying a drone at all in UK I would highly recommend it.) Anyway, we’d already checked the app and knew that English Heritage didn’t own the airspace. HOWEVER, we were right on the edge of a military area, so we had to be very careful where we flew (basically don’t fly it OVER the A303- the other side is military…. PLEASE check this info before you fly as it may well have changed between me writing this post and your visit!)
So, although we were legally allowed to fly (within the other rules of the Drone Law) we didn’t want to cause any arguments or unpleasantness with the security guards. So we asked them where the exact boundary of the English Heritage lay, which turned out to be the field between the Drove and Stonehenge itself. Therefore, we could happily fly along the field on the other side of the Drove without any problems at all, (again, within the confines of the rest of the Drone Law of course!) So that’s exactly what we did. The security guards were happy- we made them a hot drink as they were freezing – and we all watched the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen together.
As you can see on the video, the mist swirled around the stones and added to the utter magic of it all. We were surprised by how spiritual it felt. Neither of us are particularly religious, but we really felt the spirit of our ancient ancestors and wondered exactly how many people had stood looking at these same stones over the years watching the same sun rise over them. It was pretty powerful stuff!
Visiting Stonehenge for Free
Just a note: You CANNOT get in to English Heritage to see the Stones up close via the Drove. There is a path which takes you really close to them, but if you want to go in through the English Heritage access, you need to turn right out of The Drove back on the A303 (which is pretty much impossible, so go left then turn around at the next turning) and then follow the brown signs for Stonehenge/ English Heritage. This leads you to the attraction car park where you will be charged around £16 each (2017 prices).
It is no longer possible to walk among the stones and touch them, even if you pay (not like you can in the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney). It’s a shame, but the Stonehenge stones have been badly damaged by visitors, so they no longer allow access.
With this in mind, my honest opinion is that you can see nearly as much if you visit Stonehenge for free and walk the path around the edge (also for free). I have paid to go closer to the Stones in the past and you don’t get much better a view. Having said that, I would never discourage anyone from visiting and paying money to preserve our national monuments, so if you want to visit and buy tickets, full details can be found on the English Heritage website here.
Whatever you choose, there’s nothing to stop you wild camping for the night first and getting a view very few other people will ever experience.
Here’s the video link if you’d like to see the drone footage of Stonehenge at sunrise: