This is a smaller bus tour of about 16 people via Mad Max Bus Tours, so it’s a tad more intimate and less spacious on the bus (so if you need to store luggage this isn’t the tour). I wanted to leave from Bath as I both wanted to spend time in Bath and also not be a part of the massive groups leaving from London. I think this was perhaps the best planned bus tour of all, as the timing was ideal to avoid tourist crowds at each stop. For this Mad Max Bus Tours Review, I’m going talk about each place we went!
Stonehenge was our first stop, and my main draw to this along with Avebury, as I’m a neolithic nerd. I was very worried before getting here that I would be disappointed. I already knew from my Paris Experience that massive amounts of inane tourists can really dampen my enthusiasm for places. Most of the reviews online were of two camps “a pile of rocks” or “a magical place.” I decided against the evening tours which allow you to actually go into the stones because I wasn’t sure which camp I would fall under.
This is where the excellent timing comes in. Because we got there as soon as Stonehenge opened, I had enough time to enjoy the stones without hearing nattering parents and squalling children. I enjoying walking slowly around the stones from one direction to the other, observing how the stones blocked and revealed the light and sky. By the time I’d finished my second walk around the masses had arrived and I skedaddled out and over to walk by the burial mounds where absolutely no one was, and walked back to the tour bus. This was a part I hadn’t known about Stonehenge, and due to the 2 hours we had there I got to more fully experience the other areas the Stonehenge park has to offer.
On to Avebury! This was also a lot of fun, as you can actually walk among the stones and it is much larger. You can lean up against the stones and our tour guide had brought along copper rods so we could experience the bizarre wobbling action of the non-conducting metal when near the stones. There was a lovely energy about the place and it was near Silbury Hill (we stopped for photos) that I would like to come back and further explore someday.
While leaving we also stopped for one of the White Chalk Horses of which several are carved into the surrounding countryside. While not terribly old compared to Stonehenge and Avebury, the 300 year old carvings felt kind of magical, as though stemming from some ancient tradition (which they were).
Upon concluding the Neolithic portion of our tour we moved to the small village of Lacock. It has come to my mind that apparently everywhere in England was, at one point, a Harry Potter set. This village was as well. It truly does feel like a village locked in time, even in the local craft fair occurring at the same time. In a way, it made me a tad sad to be in this village, for some reason, despite how sweet it was.
I stopped to dip my toes in the creek where local children were playing, and admired the trust of the village where many items are apparently sold by leaving them lying about and hoping someone puts money in your mailbox. I do wish I had gone to see the abbey, in retrospect, so if you go on your tour I think you would have sufficient time to see both the village and the Lacock Abbey although there is an additional cost.
Finally, Castle Combe. The gardens of the hotel are beyond beautiful and feel a lot like some kind of secret garden. As there isn’t a ton to see otherwise, I recommend exploring the gardens as much as you can as there were a lot of hidden paths and nooks. I can’t say this was my favorite location ever, but it’s nice to know that maybe a tour of the Cotswolds is not in my future. Back to Bath with plenty of time for dinner and exploring!
- Comfort: If you’re a solo traveler, this is fantastic as you can score one of the solo seats by arriving early. Nice windows.
- Driver: Super nice, took the time to learn each of our names, although I can’t remember his and I wish they would have a list of their guides on the website. Very personable 🙂
- Locations: Well timed and giving attention to the smaller, more quaint villages.
- Price: It does not include the entrance to Stonehenge and that’s something to consider. However, for the ability to be with a small group of people instead of the giant 100+ groups especially for Stonehenge, I think it’s worth it.
This is Part of a Series!
I wound up going to England on a bit of a budget compared to my previous two trips abroad (See: The Oxford Experience). However, I still wanted to see as much of the UK as I could while I was there. Bus tours in the UK became the most economical option for me, despite my nature of wanting to do everything by myself. Train tickets to all of the places I wanted to go were either expensive compared to the all-inclusive packages or did not get close enough to the areas I wanted to go for ease of access.
I‘ve named the names of the three bus tours I would recommend and have not named the one I probably wouldn’t recommend. Per usual, I’m a bit of a mess and the last one was partially my own idiocy.
Part 1: Hairy Coo Tours Review to Loch Ness and Highlands
Part 2: You’re Here at Mad Max Bus Tours Review!
Part 3: See Wales Bus Tours Review to Tintern Abbey and Caerleon
Part 4: A “Cruise” Tour That Didn’t Go Well…..