All photos are large files and can be clicked on for detail.
After dropping off some of our gear following the walk back from Lodore, we got back in the car for the short drive to Castlerigg Stone Circle, just outside the town of Keswick. Ever since I first saw Stonehenge as a child, I have always been very interested in such things, whether in large numbers as at Avebury, or in their use as Dolmen burial chambers, good examples of which can be found in Wales.
As we approached the site on the small access road, we were confronted by a large tourist coach coming our way. There was no chance of passing whatsoever, so I had to make a somewhat difficult reverse back the way I had driven. This went on for a considerable time, until we reached a place where I could pull off the road. There were no passengers in the coach, and I soon discovered why. Once we parked and got our boots on, it was apparent that despite the lateness of the hour, there were still large numbers of tourists around the site of the stones. Many of these had been dropped off by that coach, and we also discovered that some had walked there from a nearby campsite.
This site is very important, as it has been dated to 3,200 B.C. making it one of the earliest examples to be found anywhere in Europe. It is ideally located on high ground, surrounded by the local hills, with views as far as Skiddaw Mountain, to the north. The area is looked after by English Heritage, and entry is free. However, the archaeological importance and historical fascination of the stones seemed to have been of little concern to the other tourists there. They ran around in groups, joking and shouting. Many of them climbed onto the stones, to my shock and surprise. They posed on top of some larger stones, and sat around the central smaller group as if on chairs at home. This is a protected ancient monument, one of the most important in the world, yet many of these people (most in their twenties, or older) treated it like some sort of stone playground.
Unwilling to become embroiled in confrontation after a long and tiring day, we walked to the edge of the site, and waited for the groups to depart. There was no point even trying to take photos, as they were also very inconsiderate to others, refusing to move away from the stones even when it was obvious that other people were attempting to photograph them. Some girls who were not included in the group came over to make a fuss of Ollie. They were from Australia, and on a camping tour of the region. One remarked how hard it was to take photos here, due to the people being so thoughtless.
About thirty minutes after arriving, we finally got to take some photos.
This group of stones extends into the circle. Reading about them, it seems they are believed to be a place where stone axes were traded, and also buried, in some form of ritual during the summer solstice.
The light was changing by the second here, affected by the clouds moving around the hills. An overview of the site was difficult to achieve, so I settled for shots of the stone ring in two sections instead. If you look at the bottom of the photo, you can see a brown lump. This is Ollie’s tail! He was supposed to be in the shot, but walked off as I pressed the shutter. I decided to leave it in!
If you are interested to see more, search for the site on Google Images. There are some stunning seasonal shots there, as well as aerial photos.
Returning to Keswick, we commented on the sad behaviour of many of the other visitors that afternoon. Perhaps the answer is to make a charge to enter, and employ someone to supervise the tourists. It’s a shame that it might have to come to that one day.