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11:36am Thursday 23rd January 2014 in Letters
NOW that the Stonehenge Visitor Experience is open, I wonder if English Heritage could explain how I and many other cyclists can access Stonehenge from Salisbury.
The only practical route has always been up the Woodford Valley to the A303 and down to cross over at Stock Bottom.
However, at Stock Bottom one is currently met with a pedestrian gate and a rough earth track, and my touring cycle could never travel here.
I am sure across Europe people are planning cycle-tours to take in the new visitor centre. There will also be cyclists like me who cannot currently cycle across Salisbury Plain to Devizes because of this hold-up.
May we trust there will soon be a suitably surfaced route across the estate?
Alan Doel, Salisbury
I AM furious with English Heritage again.
This time it is their use of coaches to take visitors along the old A344 (as far as the old visitors’ centre I’m told) because their ridiculous ‘road trains’ cannot cope.
Surely they could have foreseen that the road train can only take 45 passengers and a modern coach holds about 60, therefore it just wouldn’t work.
Being a cynic, perhaps this substitution was already in their plans. Shortly before the new visitor centre opened, an English Heritage representative came to Shrewton to answer questions put to her by local people.
I suggested that when the ‘road trains’ proved to be inadequate then coaches would be used on the very road that was closed to general traffic, thereby negating the reason given for closure.
This suggestion was solemnly denied and I was told that it would never happen because Wiltshire Council would not allow it. So much for the truth.
It would not surprise me if, in the near future, all tourist coaches will be permitted to take their passengers up to the Stones; then perhaps cars will follow.
What has this outrageously expensive folly achieved other than increased traffic chaos all around and far beyond?
June Hastings, Shrewton
THE land train has proved to be inadequate already and, supplemented with numerous coaches in the summer, will negate the tranquillity sought by siting the visitor centre where it is.
If the monument site is ever to be rid of the car park required for turning the land train and the area grassed over as shown in the second aerial view accompanying the article in the April 7, 2011 Journal, a less conspicuous mode of transport is needed.
I have previously advised English Heritage and had printed in these columns the idea of a tram route terminating underground near the monument.
Trams without overhead wires are operating in Bordeaux and could surely be justified for this prime World Heritage Site.
Christopher Penfold, Salisbury
I FEEL that English Heritage has been getting a lot of unfair criticism concerning the new visitor centre.
When you are involved in the process of spending £40m on two previous designs and other preparatory work, and then £27m on the finished project, it is easy to forget minor details, such as 'visitors'.
I know the clue is in the name, but who could have foreseen that, following national coverage of the opening, a large number of visitors would turn up?
I heard a visitor complain that during an hour and a half's visit he only got to spend seven minutes at Stonehenge.
What did he expect, a car park near the stones? Actually, that's not a bad idea. It would relieve the pressure on the centre, as it can't even cope with present numbers.
Site it up by the wood on the way to the stones.
The management says this is an outdoor site, and people should be prepared to queue outside in the wind and rain and then pay double the old charge for admission.
Well, although the project is fully funded and doesn't need to raise any extra money, what has it come to if you can't make an extra bob or two out of unsuspecting tourists?
The problem will always be the distance from the stones. The original builders of Stonehenge had the right idea, siting it close to the main road.
There was an inflatable Stonehenge made for the Turner Prize a few years ago.
How about putting that by the visitor centre for those who don't want to freeze to death or queue for an hour?
Richard Tambling, Salisbury
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