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If you have been to Somerset, but never visted the town of Glastonbury, the chances are that you may still have seen it's iconic tor from a distance. The tor rises up some 325 feet from the plain called the Summerland Meadows and is a mecca for tourists, though you do have to be fairly fit to get to the top!
There are many myths and legends surrounding the tor, from the familiar Arthurian legend, to tales of fairies and Goddesses.
The ancient Celtic meaning of the word 'tor' is 'rock outcropping' or 'hill' and this tor is said to be situated on a convergance of ley-lines. Ley-lines are straight, often geometric alignments that ran across ancient landscapes, that the ancient people thought connected both natural and sacred structures together. There is certainly a very spiritual feel to the place!
The links to the Arthurian legend probably stem from the alleged finding of the graves of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere in the 12th Century. This has never been verified, but I would love to think it was genuine.
The tor is said to have been the fabled Isle of Avalon, from the same legend, which may have stemmed from the fact that in ancient times it was most likely surrounded by water.
I think one has to make one's own mind up as to what to believe. All I know is that it's a great place to visit, which we have done on several occasions.
The last time we were there we climbed the tor and if you are fit and able I would certainly recommend it.
There are a couple of designated paths, so do stick to those as it does get very steep in places. One route starts at Stone Down Lane and is the shorter, but more steep path and the other runs from Well House lane, and is longer but slightly less steep. I'm afraid anyone in a wheelchair would not be able to get to the top via either path, as it would be far too difficult so i'm afraid they would have to enjoy the view from the foot of the hill.
We climbed up the Stone Down Lane path, and down the one on the opposite side. It was hard-going and if you go on a hot day, take some water to drink. Also, there are no loos there, so take that into consideration before you set out to avoid getting caught short! Once at the top you come to the tower, which is the remander of St Michael's church and the iconic structure that the tor is so well-known for.
The view at the top is absolutely amazing! On a clear day you can see for miles, from the Mendip Hills together with the city of Wells and its cathedral, to the island of Steep Holm in the Bristol Channel, and Brent Knoll to the northwest, with the Polden and Quantock Hills to the southwest. You can see the Black mountains of Wales in the far distance, with the Hood Monument and Dorset to the south and to the east Alfred's Tower on the borders of Wiltshire. It is just stunning!
Now, if you are like me and suffer from vertigo, coming back down again could make you feel a tad dizzy, it did me, but I am awful where heights are concerned. Getting up has never been the problem, coming back down again is another matter. The path we chose to come back down seemed much less steep than the one we climbed, but even so it was a bit steep at the top and I did get a few dizzy spells. That said, I wouldn't have missed the climb for the world!
If you do go for a visit and want to climb, choose a good clear day that is not too hot. Wear some decent walking shoes and appropriate clothing. Stillettos just won't be of any use!! The ground can get quite soggy in wet weather too.Don't forget to go to the loo before you set off! Allow a good hour to get to the top at a reasonable pace. Take your time and enjoy the views as you climb.
Since there is no parking at the tor itself, I would advise using a car park in the town. There are several to choose from. That way, once you get back down again you can go and have a cuppa somwhere to get your breath back and ease those aching feet before heading back to your car!
Glastonbury Tor is really well worth a visit, as is the town itself! We will certainly go back someday!
The Glastonbury Tor
This hill in Glastonbury stands proudly above the flat fens around it. You can literally see it from miles away .
The Tor is a hill with a tower on top of it. Today this Tor is managed by the National Trust and the tower is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument which is a national important archeological site or historic building .This tower is yet another ruin left after the destruction following Henry VIII's parting from the Catholic Church. Fortunately for us Henry's army was only able to destroy buildings made with wooden frames. The Tower of the church that stood on top of the Tor was able to withstand the destructive flames and still stands proudly at the top to this day. The raised area it has been said was called "Ynys yr Afalon "or "The Isle of Avalon" by the Britons, which is why many believe that this is the Avalon of The Legend of King Arthur.
The walk up to the Tor is steep but follows a recognized path. It is just about possible to push a push chair up most of the way but then you do come upon stairs and although you can carry a push chair a wheel chair would be impossible so sadly in reality the Tor is something that you can only enjoy from below if you are disabled in this way. If you take the walk slowly most able bodied people will be able to get up there. If you want a bit of heart pumping exercise then go at a apace and you will feel the climb. There are a few benches at resting places on the way where you can sit and contemplate the views if you need to or if you just want to sit and be peaceful and quiet enjoying a view of English countryside.
At the top you can obviously go into the tower which has some information boards displayed telling you a bit of the history. You can go to the map and look at how far you can see and on a good day you can clearly see Wells cathedral. From the top here you can also clearly see the drainage ditches dug by the monks around 1000AD to drain the land and this is when Glastonbury stopped being an island and became fertile farmland instead. The Tor was the island that arose out of these undrained fens.
People feel the hill has some spiritual connections . Some people even believe Glastonbury Tor is home to Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Fairies.
There are so many myths and legends about the Tor and what you believe depends on your own beliefs. It is a special place for Christians, Pagans, believers in nature mythology and even newer ideas about life the universe . Somehow the Tor is able to provide a comfortable, nurturing niche for all as it stands overlooking Glastonbury.
This hill is ancient and legend tells of a monument or series of stones a bit like Stone Henge which stood on the top of the Tor in ancient times and indeed in 2002 archaeologists found remains of what might have been stone circle.
There is also evidence of an ancient labyrinth similar to that in Crete and this can be see today.They are sort of terraces in the hill and it is believed that theses terraces are the remains of a maze. It is believed that this was a spiritual or ritualistic way of approaching the centre of the Tor These lines or terraces spiral round the Tor seven times, and ends at the summit where the tower now stands. It is all very mysterious.
There is also a Goddess of the Tor called Rhiannon.The hill and the folds within it are her body which is full of dips and folds with a large belly, hips and thighs . She is the Goddess of Love known as Rhiannon here but also could be Aphrodite, Venus, the Morning and the Evening Star. She is a Goddess who is a real female, a mother earth, and representing fertility.
Is it worth a visit?
Yes. I really loved the place and found all the mystical and spiritual elements fascinating. The history is evident and real and when you tie that in with the stories of legends it becomes so much more exciting. I can really see why this little town has become a place of pilgrimage and somewhere that people who feel spiritual presence are drawn to as it does have some special sort of feel to it. I don't think I'm very spiritual at all but I always feel a little in awe when I am inside a particularly beautiful religious building, no matter what religion it is the same feeling in here. I got the same feeling of overwhelming awe and feeling very small and insignificant when I was on the Tor. There is something special about this place but I can't say what it is it is just something you either feel or you don't.
Hope this has been of some interest to you and I would like to thank you for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.