One of the most popular tourist destinations in the South West is Stonehenge. Each year it is visited by over 800,000 people and one of the reasons for this is its accessibility. It is located on the Main A303 road that travels from London down to Exeter which means that visitors from the capital will take an hour to reach the site.
Stonehenge is basically a circle of large stones that have been set within earth works in the surrounding area, which include monuments and burial sites. The stones have no relationship with the surrounding geology and it has become a mystery of how the monument first appeared.
The site has religious significance especially with the druids. There are a couple of annual pilgrimages of the druids to the monument to celebrate the shortest day of the tear and the longest day of the year. In 2003 30,000 visitors made the trip to celebrate the summer solstice and these large gathering nowadays are controlled by the local police force.
For tourists who are interested in architecture many will visit Salisbury Cathedral which is also located in Wiltshire. It is one of the best examples of English architecture and it attracts 500,000 visitors a year. The beauty of the Cathedral is that it was started in 1220 and only took 38 years to fully build, which meant that the architecture is consistent through the whole site. The Cathedral’s cloisters occupy 80 acres which makes them the largest cloisters in Britain. The spire is 404 feet high and can be seen from many parts of the county. Within the tower is the clock which is the oldest working clock in the world.
The city of Bath is also a destination for many people who are interested in English architecture. The city has a population of 88,000 and in 1987 it was made a World Heritage Site. Sited on the edge of the Cotswold Hills Bath has the reputation of being the country’s most beautiful city.
All of the major significant stages of British history are represented within the city and it attracts 3.9 million day visitors a year, plus a further million who remain overnight. The major attractions include the Roman Baths which are sited where the natural spa waters emerge from the land. The city is also a prime example of Georgian architecture.
Bath grew rapidly during the Georgian era as it became more popular as a tourist destination. This is reflected by the buildings, and there is no better example than the Royal Crescent. Designed by John Wood and built in 1767 from the local Bath stone there the area has remained unaltered over the years and is a popular destination for the city’s visitors.
As a tourist destination Bath has created its own culture. There are numerous hotel rooms, restaurants and bars. However, what really stands out are the number of popular theatres in the city, and there is a creative atmosphere that is epitomized by the people who live in the city.
Dorset is a rural county that has been brought to life by the writings of Thomas Hardy. Many of his books are based on his life in the region, with him creating Wessex as a county based on Dorset, and Casterbridge as a town based on Dorchester.
There are many bus tours of the county that show the areas that Hardy featured in his books. A visit to the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester give people the opportunity the area that is set aside for the life of the author. Hardy was actually one of the founders of the museum and there are over 7000 artefacts on show that are related to him. His study is recreated and there is also the first edition of “Far from the Madding Crowd” on display.
The whole museum totally recreates the feeling of Dorset being a rural county.