Lying in the Vale of Avalon, Glastonbury, which was once an island, is a very unusual town and probably one of England’s most spiritual places. It has a certain ‘alternative’ vibe – the mix of lay lines, springs and the Tor attracts the spiritually-minded whilst it also continues to be a centre of Christian pilgrimage as Glastonbury is reputed to be the birthplace of Christianity in England.
Probably the most iconic site of Glastonbury is the Tor, a fabulous tower structure overlooking the gloriously named Summerland meadows and which can be seen for miles. Surrounded by myth (of course) with connections to Arthur and ancient goddesses, it’s well worth the climb for the stunning views. You can walk to the base of the hill and climb up, or alternatively get the Tor Bus from the town centre.
Another must-see is the ruined abbey, serenely located in the centre of the town. With parts of the nave dating back to the 7th century, there’s plenty of myth and legend surrounding this holy spot, reputed to be the final resting place of King Arthur and Guinevere as well as home to the famed thorn trees supposedly descending from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea. Legend has it that he travelled to Britain and on climbing Wearyall Hill planted his staff in the ground, only to find it had taken root the next day. Interestingly, the thorns only blossom at Easter and Christmas time.
The Chalice Well is a fascinating visit. Surrounded by beautiful, well-cared for gardens, this is one of Britain’s most ancient and spiritual wells. Amongst other things, it is believed that the Holy Grail (the chalice) was dipped in its waters. Today it’s a living sanctuary of sorts, with daily meditations taking place and a wide programme of events throughout the year.
The town itself is very pretty, with lovely old pubs and shops to explore. The shops tend towards the esoteric (think crystals, tarot and therapists) whilst there’s a good range of pubs, restaurants and cafes too.
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