June 21st, traditionally the longest day, will be a good day to avoid driving through parts of the West Country. So says Steve Clarke, group marketing manager of The Fuelcard People. He said, “The Summer Solstice always means tens of thousands of visitors to Stonehenge. This year, it is immediately followed by the Glastonbury Festival, with at least 135,000 people all heading towards Pilton at the same time.”
This year’s Solstice begins at 23:34 on Monday, June 20th, varying slightly according to location. “Whatever the actual time,” said Steve Clarke, “there are always celebrations on the 21st and thousands will be making their way to Stonehenge during the day before. Anyone needing to travel through the area during that Monday would be well advised to avoid the relevant sections of the A303, A344, A360 and B3086. It is worth remembering that people could be arriving, and leaving Stonehenge to head home, at any time. There are unlikely to be any quiet periods during the day.”
The traffic problems are expected to be worse than usual, with the Glastonbury Festival 2016 beginning on June 22nd. There are usually a few days separating the events, easing the strain on the roads. This year, it would not be surprising for many of the Stonehenge visitors then to head for the Festival.
“From Stonehenge to Pilton is just over 40 miles,” said Steve Clarke, “but nobody should expect to cover the distance in an hour on June 21st, as would normally be possible. Anyone having no choice but to take that A303, B3081, A371, A361 route can anticipate being part of a slow-moving convoy. It will be of little consolation that all human life will be represented, from druids and new age travellers to children and pensioners.”
Glastonbury visitors will be arriving from throughout the UK and the wider world, with long delays predicted for every route that leads to the small Somerset village. “Many festival-goers will use public transport,” Steve Clarke said, “but the challenge of carrying camping gear on trains and buses means that the roads will still be full. In the immediate vicinity, this means the A37, A39m A303 and A361, but the effect of congestion will be felt out into the M3, M4, M5, M40 and their feeder roads. We would advise anyone unable to avoid the area to take plenty of water and snacks for what could be a long, frustrating journey.”
He said, “If your ambitions include watching a Solstice sun rise over a prehistoric monument, followed by a choice of shows by performers from Adele to the New Mortal Orchestra, all roads lead to the West Country in late June. For everyone else, these could be the roads to nowhere – and, no, David Byrne is not in the line-up.”