Get in touch with your spiritual side at Glastonbury Tor

Now that it at last seems like Spring has finally sprung, I thought I might take a quick moment to tell you about a gorgeous excursion that would serve as the perfect break for those of you who are, like me, scribbling dissertations like mad right now. Take a beautiful, refreshing and oh-so-needed trip to Glastonbury Tor and leave with (hopefully) clear minds ready to return to the depths of the library for another night.

Just an hour away from Bristol along the A37/A39 (or hop on a train to Castle Cary), the impressive sight of the 158m conical hill with its 15th Century Church tower looming on top is visible from miles around. It reminded me a lot of Bilbo’s approach to the Lonely Mountain and I found myself half-hoping that some helpful eagles might swoop by and drop me at the top of the seemingly impossible height that I could see emerging from the otherwise flat levels of Somerset (I’ve been watching the Hobbit lately. Can you tell?).

Walk/Trot/Plod up the steps to the top of the hill, because although for the less fit of us it may seem like a bit of a trek, the views from the summit are absolutely worth it. You can see the beautiful colours of the Somerset Levels, over to Dorset, Wiltshire and Wales. You can also catch a glimpse of the Bristol Channel and over to the Mendips. A superb sight by all accounts!

It’s no wonder that the place is spiritually significant for many. Iron age remains have been unearthed here, and it has been suggested that it was once the site of Saxon fortress. Despite the conical shape of the hill being a natural feature, the maze of hillside terracing winding its way up the tor dates to Neolithic times, adding to the site’s perceived significance. Others link the site to celtic mythology and neopagan lore, citing tales of King Arthur, The Holy Grail and the Mother Goddess. For this reason do not be surprised if you see some folk practicing Ti-Chi on the summit, meditating or practicing their Tibetan Singing Bowl skills (I have to admit, the guy clanging jarringly loudly on his prayer bowl when we were there clearly needed the practice. It was NOT a relaxing sound).

Sit in the shade of the Tower of the Church of St. Michael, admire the views, and wait for the sunset. From your vantage spot it will be a sight to behold. And if you get chilly or in need of a pick me up, pop into the nearby Rifleman’s Arms for a beer.

Useful Information

Price: Free
Opening Times: Open all year round
Facilities: Nope
Bring with you: A flask of coffee (always bring this wherever you go I think), A book, A camera, A Tibetan Prayer Bowl (IF YOU ARE GOOD AT IT. Otherwise, seriously, leave it at home.)
Address: Glastonbury Tor, Off Wellhouse Lane, Nr. Glastonbury, Somerset.
Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/glastonbury-tor/

HOORAY for the outdoors. Maybe have a look at some more of my posts. You might be interested in another walk close to this one? Check out this one about the Weston Woods or this one on where to go for the best views of the Bristol skyline.

Walk around the Iron Age Hill Fort and creepy abandoned pier at Weston Woods

About 20miles south west of Bristol, just a little further than the notorious Weston Super Mare sea front, lies Weston Woods. An area of importance since the Iron Age and now a 130-hectare nature reserve, this was the spot that Danielle, Ian and I decided to explore this weekend to escape from the chaos (and essay deadlines) of the city.

I’m writing this post right now tucked up in bed with a hot water bottle and a cosy cup of lemon and ginger tea as while today’s little adventure has left me exhilarated and somewhat cleansed, I am also feeling soggy, cold and definitely soon to come down with something. This trip is not for the faint hearted, especially in our bracing October weather. If I had known what would be in store, perhaps I would have brought more appropriate footwear – my Nikes are pretty mucky right now.

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Following the pathway (which is roughly 1 ½ miles) we had the chance to explore the beautiful woodland, climb the broadleaf trees and also check out the 2000 year old pits – apparently these were dug and used to store grain. We were also able to have a look at the Iron Age Hill Fort as the defensive ramparts can still be seen. (Archaeological side note from me – During excavations in 1850, they found around 100 human skeletons here, many of which showed signs of having been violently killed and things! I love gory archaeology goss!) Exploring the various bridleways and admiring the fungi and enormous trees, draped with ivy and splattered with bright orange lichen, was a welcome respite from the city. And the fresh, coastal air was a beautiful tonic to our hangovers and grogginess after a busy weekend of lots of drinking and very little sleeping.

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We decided to walk back along the beach – which was glorious and exciting at first – but fairly soon pretty exhausting. We made hilariously/devastatingly slow progress clambering over the oddly shaped rocks, slipping on the spikey pebbles, and sinking into the scarily sticky sand. BUT, cold and soggy and muddy and tired, WE MADE IT. And we got to enjoy gorgeous views of the sunset, as well as of the derelict Victorian pier which has been abandoned for over a decade?! Definitely keep an eye out for this! Fantastically creepy – complete with rotting decking and broken windows, what’s left of Birnbeck Pier (constructed in 1867) is the perfect setting for a horror story and a great topic of conversation for the journey home.

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USEFUL INFO:

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Derelict remains of Birnbeck Pier

If you liked this one then you might want to read some more posts about the coasts (rhyme lol).