The delightful town of Glastonbury lies almost due east of Crowcombe, an easy hour’s drive along the A39 that runs practically from our doorstep, right into Glastonbury centre.
If you’ve never visited before, it’s a good idea to set aside any preconceptions. Glastonbury Festival grabs all the headlines, but Worthy Farm is actually at Pilton village, 7 miles away. For one long weekend every year it has tremendous impact, but for the remainder of the year Glastonbury is a very different, much quieter, and all together charming place to visit. There’s an enormous amount to see…
Whatever else you do in Glastonbury, you really ought to climb the Tor. For the Celts it was the home of Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Faeries. Others say it’s the Isle of Avalon, home to King Arthur and The Round Table. Christians built the now ruined St Michael’s Chapel. It takes about half an hour, and it’s pretty steep, but the views from the top are spectacular. When you’re up on the summit it’s easy to see why this is a place of myth and legend.
In Search of Gog and Magog
If you fancy an interesting cross-country walk, go in search of the old oaks. They’re better known as Gog and Magog – two ancient trees that have stood for around 2,000 years. Unfortunately Gog went up in flames on April 27th and has been visibly damaged, but it’s still standing!
The trail starts at the foot of the Tor (there are maps available online, or at the Glastonbury Town Hall). The walk is not difficult, but we’d recommend decent shoes or boots as you’ll be leaving the paved walkways and crossing fields. You can also ramble through Norwood Park and along Stone Down Lane, where the hedgerows are at least 100 years old.
The Abbey and The Somerset Rural Life Museum
The whole area is steeped in history, and Glastonbury Abbey is another fine example. It’s believed to have been founded in around AD43 when the Romans conquered Britain. Joseph of Arimathea is said to have visited.
It was extended by a Saxon king, and later an Abbot who went on to be Archbishop of Canterbury. It was enlarged by the Norman conquerors, suffered terrible fire damage at the end of the 10th century, and was almost destroyed by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Today it’s not just a place of tremendous beauty, but also of entertainment and education.
Learning about the region’s history continues at the Somerset Rural Life Museum, which houses a fascinating insight into the way people lived and worked across the centuries. You’ll find it in the superb 14th Century tithe barn that once belonged to the Abbey.
Chalice Well and The White Spring
There’s nothing quite like the peace and tranquility of an English garden, whether in the sculpted formality of a stately home or the natural charm you’ll find at the Chalice Well.
A visit at any time of the year will be rewarded with the quiet serenity that stems from a life-giving watercourse that has flowed continuously for thousands of years. On some evenings – particularly around equinoxes, solstices and other holidays – there are poetry readings, or music, so it’s worth checking beforehand.
The White Spring is yet another Glastonbury treasure – one that has been a place of pilgrimage for millennia. After the open feel of the Chalice Well, this is quite a contrast. The candle-lit interior is a cool, meditative space with acoustics that attract occasional guitar or drum players. Many bring water bottles to fill, to take away the restorative waters the White Spring provides.
The Avalon Marshes
There’s so much to discover in Glastonbury it’s easy to overlook the surrounding area, but if you like walking or cycling there’s plenty more to explore. Trails and cycle ways criss-cross the marshes and Shapwck Heath, just a few miles to the west, is home to a fabulous nature reserve.
But that’s just one of the highlights. We haven’t mentioned all the delightful shops in the town of Glastonbury or, when you’re in need of a brief rest, the tempting cafes, pubs and restaurants.
It’s a lot to fit into one day, but back at the Carew Arms in Crowcombe you can relax in comfy surroundings, get a refreshing drink, and discuss your adventures over a delicious dinner.