All right, Heysham Bike Rentals of Salisbury gets a big red “x” through it in my book. Beastly place. I mean, the £10 bike rental for the day is I guess forgiveable. The beastly little illegible map to stonehenge that they provide to you is tolerable. However, giving a six foot tall man a bike that I could have been riding when I was in middle school is quite unacceptable.

So I arrive in Salisbury with my friendly British companion, who directs me to towards the shops and Winchester St that the shop is supposed to be on. It is. The bike rental is £10 and the deposit is £25 – doable, yes. Then I ask them if I can have a road bike. They say no, only mountain bikes available. I raise my eyebrows, partly in shock and partly in horror. Biking 11 miles (yes apparently the six miles that the guidebook quotes is wrong) there and then back again? On the wrong side of the road? Helmets are £3 extra? Well, as my parents will no doubt be horrified to know, I took them up on their offer. Stonehenge or bust, I said to myself.

But then they show me the bicycle, and I swear this thing was last seen being ridden by a midget. It’s a nice bike, to be sure – same shifters as my own bike, good stiff brakes, et cetera…but the thing is dinky. The seat can’t even go up high enough that I can straighten my legs at the downstroke. Wincing though…I take off, their ridiculous map clutched in my hand.

So I then proceeded to spend the next almost 2 hours biking aimlessly around the Salisbury hills and countryside. I do have to say, every resident is extremely friendly towards me. All of them seem to take pity on the poor tourist (or maybe I’m subtly just choosing all the ones that look the most friendly?) and I’ve asked about 7-8 now “please help me, how do I get to Stonehenge” and they’ve all given me directions that seem well tempered, but they all apply only to their local areas of town and not to the area of stonehenge. After climbing up what felt like a small mountain with a path about 1 foot wide, I decided…you know, Stonehenge has been there for thousands of years…I think it might be able to last another 2 without me. Besides, at that point I still hadn’t eaten, hadn’t used the bathroom and was pretty much going insane. Also, the “need sleep” warning bells are starting good in my head.

So instead I spent the next 45 minutes to an hour touring the magnificent Chathedral of Salisbury, with the highest spire (404 fee) is the tallest spire in England. It was very pretty, covered in stained glass and matching carvings (the whole thing was only done in 38 years total, in comparison with other cathedrals which took hundreds of years). It was beautiful, and I hope that the pictures turn out all right in the mostly dark area.

The last thing I saw (but of course was unable to photograph) was one of the original 5 Magna Carta charters that was preserved in the Chapter Hall room. This one was supposedly the best preserved of all the remaining copies. There was a guide touring a group through there at the moment, so I listened a little bit.

At this point though, I was ready to move onto Bristol and forget my failings in attempting to find Stonehenge. It was a classic, beautiful town though, I thought to myself as I biked back to the rental shop, where they gave me back my deposit and quickly reminded me that there was no refunds even though I was back early.

Now the trick was to catching the train to Bristol and meeting up with Nathalie. According to my printed schedule, I had about 5 minutes until the train arrived, and I had a length to go that had originally taken 15 to walk before reaching the shop. Finally putting my pack into its intended use as a backpack, I attached the heavy thing as best I could and sprinted the distance as fast as possible, through an outside antique market, and barely made it back in time.

Onto the last stop of the day: Bristol and Wellington!