Through The Looking Glas-tonbury

Day: 167

Towns / Cities Visited: 99

Countries Visited: 21

Steps Taken Today: 12,730

Steps Taken Around the World: 2,847,192

There was a long drive to be had today, but we weren’t about to let that mean that our day would be spent entirely within the confines of the car, and with that in mind we arose, checked out of our accommodation, and headed to one last nearby Cornish location before our departure north. Now as I mentioned in my last post, Land’s End is not the most southerly point of mainland England, despite what many think; it is instead our current destination; Lizard Point. What better way to wake up to the day, than to do so standing in the cool morning breeze of a clifftop stroll. After a short drive, we arrived and found a park in a small, out of the way car park, before tumbling out of the car and walking down towards the shore. The point is cared for, like many natural locations of importance, by the National Trust, and is used by many animal watchers looking to spot some of the rare and beautiful creatures of the area, including a large array of seabirds, as well as aquatic wildlife offshore depending on the seasons, like seals and dolphins. The point is also well known as a place of significance in the history of communications, as it was used by Guglielmo Marconi as a location from which to experiment with his newly invented wireless radio in the late 1800's.

Despite the rich history and the incredible flora and fauna of the sight, it is much less popular than Land’s end, and we found ourselves reaching the point with very few other people around. The view off the cliffs, and out towards the horizon was spectacular, and I took a long moment to enjoy the relative quiet, knowing that the next few days of our trip would take us back into the bustling life of some of the countries most popular towns. A leisurely stroll down the track which leads through the scrub eventually took us back through a much larger car park we hadn’t even known was there, run by the National Trust and costing about three times as much as the small one we had stumbled across, until we found ourselves back at our car.

Now, it just wouldn’t be right if we came all the way to Cornwall and didn’t have ourselves a traditional Cornish pasty, and thanks to a tip from the family we had met in Kent, we knew just where to go; a tiny shop running out the back of someones house in the town of Lizard, called Ann’s Pasties. We bought three to share; meat, cheese, and vegetable, and sat in the car to eat them before heading on our way. They were pretty good actually, but although we thought the meat one would be our favourite, the vegetable one actually won out. The meat on was somewhat lacking on meat as the filling had been stretched out with too many vegetables. In fact, we got about half way through it before we found any meat at all, and the pastry on it was a bit thick. The vegetable one was delicious though; thin crispy pastry, and just enough sauce that the vegetables didn’t become dry.

With our pasty experience done and dusted, we hopped back in the car and headed on our way out of Cornwall and towards Glastonbury. After a rather lengthy drive, which should have taken three hours but with traffic took five, we finally arrived in Glastonbury just before 5pm. Grabbing a map and some directions from the information centre next to the car park we began the walk to the sight we had travelled here to see; Glastonbury Tor. Walking through the town was quite the change of pace from all of the other towns we had visited so far in the country. You see, Glastonbury is home to a large community of hippies and new age pagans, and as such there is a large selection of shops selling everything from healing crystals, tarot cards, and incense, to Bohemian style clothing and a selection of Wicca looking paraphernalia. I’ve never really bought into the whole magical healing and crystal ball reading thing, but I’ll be honest the people living this life are a damn sight better more peaceful than bible bashers telling people they will burn for eternity if they don’t believe as they do.

Eventually we made it out of town and headed towards and up the large, grassy, terraced, sandstone hill that is Glastonbury Tor. Atop it sits Saint Michael’s Tower, the only remaining part of a 14th century stone church which used to be perched up here, although there is believed to have been a wooden church on the location since the 11th century. The tower is not roofed, and looking up through it gives quite the abstract perspective, as does looking through its aligned doorways, which if you can catch it with no one standing there, is filled with nothing but sky.

This place has strong spiritual significance for many, and is home to numerous legends, including Celtic myths in which it is associated with the King of the Fairies , and it is also believed to be the gateway to the Land of the Dead. It is also believed to be the location of Avalon in the legend of King Arthur; the place where his sword Excalibur was forged. Given all of this mysticism surrounding it should not come as a surprise to you that there are more than a few hippies mulling around on the peak of the tor, including quite a few meditating within the tower itself, or quietly on the grass surrounding it. There was a sense of great calm in the air here, and we took a short while to just sit and bask in the warmth of the sun while we admired the commanding view down over the town and the sweeping farmland below.

The sun was hanging low by now, and we hurried back to the car, before driving the forty minutes to our Airbnb. Another night was spent with a home cooked meal, and some time to work on our memory keeping. As I dozed in bed that night, I thought about Glastonbury Tor and how different it had been from all of our sightseeing thus far in England. Instead of another hub of picture snapping tourists running at a million miles a minute, we had found ourselves surrounded by people who had come with the express purpose of being at one with their surroundings, without the need for modern distractions. As I had stood waiting to capture a photo through the doors, I noticed an older lady with long grey hair, walking around in a flowing white outfit, and holding a staff. Now I don’t believe in witches, but I hope if they do exist that she is one. She stopped at one point, arms spread wide, eyes closed, just basking in some invisible power, and there was something almost calming about seeing her being so at peace with the world. It was almost as though peering through those doors, was like looking into an alternate universe; as though we had passed through the looking glass.

I had found whilst being within this surreal scene, that I missed the time I used to take to meditate. I’m not talking surrounded by candles and moon charged crystals, saying ‘ohm’ next to your salt lamp, while burning incense to rid the room of bad juju, and aligning you chakras in a perfectly feng shui environment, kind of meditation; just plain old sitting down and concentrating on your breathing to try and slow your anxious and cluttered mind, kind of meditation. I’m not a religious person, but I do think that you don’t need to believe in some higher power to reap the benefits of taking time to clear your mind and just breathe, even if it is just for a minute or two, and especially when done in the fresh air and soothing sounds of nature.

There is great power in being in tune with your inner voice and your soul. You can have a harmonious spirit without accoutrements, and you can be a spiritual person without being religious. I fear that too often people believe the two to be inseparably interwoven. Just because someone who believes in a God tells you that only their creator can save your soul, does not mean that you do not have a soul outside of their belief system. God and self are not one in the same. So take some time to just be. Put down the phone, turn off the television, switch off the music, and listen, really listen, to your breath; feel your heart beat. You are alive my friend, you are a symphony all of your own, don’t drown it out.

On my dream trip to travel the world, taste its foods, see its wonders, and meet all the strange and beautiful people who reside here.