But this is different. I've never been able to go inside the circle before but last Monday English Heritage had a special members only event which allowed us early morning access to the stones themselves. This was a chance I wasn't going to miss so even I was prepared to get up early for once for the hour or so drive.
It is a bit surreal there now. They are in the process of closing the old road to the stones so we had to pass a manned roadblock by the new visitors centre ( not yet open) and display a laminated permit giving us permission to drive down to the old car park and visitor centre.
It was strange also to see Stonehenge empty except for our party. normally of course it is surrounded by visitors, all being kept a respectful distance from the stones themselves of course.
First close up view into the circle from just outside. We were told we could wander around but not to touch the stones themselves. They are covered with rare lichens which they want to protect. How they survive the crowds at the summer solstice then, goodness only knows.
However we were good....
It was well past dawn by now but it's getting late in the year and the sun is still low in the sky.
Once inside the circle you become aware of just how massive these stones are. They are huge. You don't get anything like the effect of them from the path.
I was very amused to see the jackdaws living in the gaps on top of the uprights. Even more so when they started to steal the twigs from each other that they'd collected!
The tallest upright with the altar stone in the foreground.
It was a fabulous experience to be able to go into the circle. I have sympathy for the Free Stonehenge movement which is campaigning for open access but with close on 1m visitors last year, there is no realistic way that number can be accommodated in the circle without them being damaged.
Now to book to do it again!