Journeys 2024

Bath Abbey to Wells Cathedral to Glastonbury Abbey - A modern pilgrimage route in Somerset

Date

30th August - 6th September 2024

Nights

7

Cost

£960 per person, single occupancy in a large, ensuite room.
£900 each person, for shared occupancy of a large Super King Size, ensuite room, when booked with friend or partner. Please state the name of the person you will be sharing with on the booking form.

Description

Our pilgrimage route, from the hallowed grounds of Bath Abbey to the ancient remains of Glastonbury Abbey via the Cathedral city of Wells, is a journey steeped in spiritual significance. These are not just historical sites but sacred places that have drawn Christians in pilgrimage for centuries.
This pilgrimage gets right to the heart of Christ. Familiar today as an inspirational hymn, William Blake's powerful poem Jerusalem recounts the legend that a young Jesus visited Glastonbury with his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, a tin trader, and that He indeed did 'walk on England's mountains green'. Whether that is true or not, there is little doubt that Joseph of Arimathea, who buried Christ's body in his own tomb after the Crucifixion, visited these shores. He is said to have landed on the island of Avalon and climbed up Wearyall Hill, which is half a mile southwest of Glastonbury. Exhausted, he thrust his staff into the ground and rested. By morning, his staff had taken root and produced the tree we know as Holy Thorn. The trees still grow there, and unusually, they flower twice a year - once in the spring around Easter and a second time at Christmas. Mediaeval legends also claim that Joseph brought the Holy Grail, the very cup Jesus used at The Last Supper, to Glastonbury and established the first Christian church there.
We begin our first day of walking with a prayer and blessing from the chaplain team in the great Abbey in Bath - a lovely way to put Christ in the centre of this walking holiday and start our journey off in the spirit of pilgrimage.
It's a holiday brim-full of water, its significance is both physical and spiritual: as a route to follow; as a source to find and as an inspiration for our faith and daily life. We begin at Britain's greatest natural spring - the spa of Aquae Sulis (Bath) and then witness how water presents itself to us again and again in its many forms: as the rivers, streams and canal that guide our path; a sacred mineral pool we can dip into; beautiful weirs in which we can `wild-swim' and also the many holy wells and springs we will pause at along the way to our final destination of Glastonbury.
Walking through beautiful, rolling countryside, we encounter prehistoric monuments and a landscape marked by its Iron Age/Celtic inhabitants and become acquainted with its ancient Christian folklore. Our heads will often be lifted as we walk, for the spires of ancient churches, the huge Gothic Cathedral in Wells and finally St Michael's tower, perched on the top of Glastonbury's Tor, will be our guides and inspiration along the way.
The route for our holiday, is inspired by the one created by The British Pilgrimage Trust in 2020, called 'Glastonbury Water Way.' It's one that connects Bath with Frome, Freshford, Wells and Glastonbury: a distance of about 50 miles which we will cover in 5 days. The walking is moderate, at times easy, though there are few steep hills to climb (that seem to go on for ever) but the views are definitely worth it. We are mostly on tracks, country lanes and bridleways and always, never far away from water!
There are plenty of stops for reflections, poems and moments of quietness on our path, as well as a picnic-lunch each day when we find a perfect spot! Each morning and evening, we will share a short time of quietness together - for prayers, contemplation and special moments from our day that we may like to share.

Walks and Excursions

Walking in the `spirit of pilgrimage', this holiday is very much about the journey itself - there's no hurrying to the destination. We like to appreciate beauty, wherever it may be found along the way and allow time for butterflies and birds; to stop and listen to water and connect with quietness within and around us. This walking holiday will be most enjoyable if you are 'walking-fit,' which means you walk regularly and are able to walk longer distances. Walking approximately 10 miles every day for 5 days, is a challenge and although the terrain is mostly 'moderate,' walking these distance every day is tiring. There are some long steep ascents that will really get us puffing!
The walking each day will be on footpaths across fields, bridleways and tracks through woodland. There is almost NO walking on the road, so you will experience quietness and the beauty of the natural world. There is some more detailed information below, about the nature of the walks and the type of surface we will be walking on.
Walking boots (or stout footwear), waterproof clothing and a day pack are essential, walking poles are highly recommended.

This is what our itinerary looks like:
Day 1: We meet at 3pm, in the pretty hamlet of Chesterblade, our `home from home' for the week. After meeting, greeting, tea and lots of cake, we set off for a little local circular walk from the house. Up and round Small Down Knoll - an ancient Iron age fort and settlement, we will have a panoramic view over the landscape we will be journeying through in the week ahead. Returning, we settle in, start to relax and get to know each other. There's delicious home cooked food at supper time. The day ends with reflection and prayers. (4 miles)

Day 2: Bath to Freshford: Arriving in Bath, we first go to the Abbey for a welcome and blessing. Then, leaving the city across the famous Pultney Bridge, we climb up to join the Skyline Trail, a route that gives us incredible views of the city below. We then slip quietly into nature, leaving all the hustle and bustle behind and climb up to Widcombe and then Claverton Down. Descending, we join the beautiful path along the Kennet and Avon Canal - a tranquil oasis of calm, that leads us the River Frome, which we then follow all the way to Freshford. (9 miles)
This route is moderate to easy, 2 very long steep sections.
Duration 4.5h Ascent 1033 Descent 876 Highest point 364ft Lowest Point 92ft
● Path 6.6 mi● Asphalt 2.2 mi● Forested/wild trail 2.0 mi● Road 0.3 mi● Dirt road 0.1 mi

Day 3: Freshford to St John's Well in Frome: Although we cover many miles today, the route is mainly flat and the walking easy and the scenery is stunning. We begin at the picture-perfect village of Freshford walking along the river Frome to Iford manor with its famous Peto gardens. Then, joining the Macmillan Way, we pass the castle at Farleigh Hungerford and continue on to experience idyllic villages and small, ancient country churches. Eventually, we come onto the beautiful Orchardleigh Estate with its lake before dropping down into Frome, a town built around a holy well (the well at St John's). (12.6 miles)
Duration 5.20h Ascent 919ft Descent 764ft Highest point 364ft Lowest Point 89ft
● Path 8.0 mi● Asphalt 2.8 mi● Forested/wild trail 1.3 mi● Road 0.5 mi● Dirt road 0.2 mi

Day 4: A `Tour and Taste' - A lovely local walk to Westcombe Dairy, to see how they make their award winning `Westcombe Cheddar' Cheese. We have a private tour of the dairy and then enjoy a wonderful lunch, that allows us to sample just how delicious their cheese really is ... and there's ice-cream too! (4 miles)

Day 5: Frome to St Aldhelm's Well, Doulting: The pilgrimage continues through evocative woodland along the Mells stream. Along this part of the route, there is an abundance of flowing water, with trees and boulders draped in lichen, giving them an other worldly appearance. After visiting the impressive church at Mells, we join the beautiful East Mendip Way to climb up to Cranmore tower, where we will have panoramic views over the Somerset countryside. Just before the end of our day, as we head for the Holy Well of St Aldhelm, we catch our first glimpse of Glastonbury Tor ... our final pilgrimage destination, now only 2 days away. (11.8 miles)
Duration 5.05h Ascent 801ft Descent 413ft Highest point 932 Lowest Point 223ft
● Path 8.9 mi● Asphalt 2.1 mi● Forested/wild trail 0.7 mi● Road 0.2 mi

Day 6: St Aldhelm's Well to Wells: Walking up over Ingsdon Hill, Glastonbury Tor appears in the distance and then the medieval churches of Croscombe and Dinder beckon to us before Wells Cathedral finally appears. There are holy wells in Wells Cathedral and from an underground chamber known as the 'dipping hole,' we experience the sight and sound of the vast underground river that these draw from. (8 miles)
Duration 3.18h Ascent 502ft Descent 1056ft Highest point 745ft Lowest Point 125ft
● Path 6.8 mi● Forested/wild trail 0.5 mi● Asphalt 0.5 mi● Road 0.1 mi● Dirt road 0.1 mi

Day 7: Wells to Glastonbury: Following the Monarch's Trail out of Wells, views of Glastonbury Tor quickly appear and cannot be avoided. Approaching the Tor from this route, there are no tourists, traffic or distractions ... it feels like the perfect, quiet culmination of a pilgrimage journey. From the top of the Tor we can see the entirety of the journeying route our feet have made and take time to appreciate and reflect upon an inner journey that has been slowly unfolding.
Descending into the town, we first visit the cavern of the White Spring - an opportunity to enter the sacred mineral pool and then visit the Red Spring, in the world peace garden of Chalice Well, where the Grail is supposed to have been found. Finally we enter Glastonbury Abbey where we conclude our pilgrimage holiday. (8 miles)
Duration 3.40h Ascent 1138ft Descent 1168ft Highest point 522ft Lowest Point 23ft
● Path 3.9 mi● Forested/wild trail 1.6 mi● Asphalt 1.5 mi● Road 0.5 mi● Dirt road 0.1 mi

Day 8: Morning of Departure. Farewells and departure after breakfast.

Included in the cost of this holiday is your accommodation, food, all daily transport, admission fees and guided walks each day. We do hope you will join us!

Accommodation

We will stay in a beautiful new barn conversion, deep in the Somerset countryside. Our accommodation is luxurious and is costed for single occupancy but discounted if you choose to share with a friend or partner. The beds are large and comfortable (some Super king size) and the rooms spacious and beautifully furnished. We have a large open plan sitting room and dining area, with a large, bright, open kitchen; a patio, BBQ, firepit, private garden and open access to paddocks that surround the house.
Breakfast will be self-serve and you can make your own picnic lunch, to take with you on your walk, with ingredients that will be provided. Supper in the evening will be prepared and cooked for you by your leaders 'Pepper' and Jo - and as we are a family, a little help with setting the table and clearing up would be most appreciated.

Getting there

By Car: The Malthouse, Winterwell Lane, Chesterblade, Shepton Mallet, BA4 4QX, Somerset.
By Train: Come to Castle Cary or Frome. We will collect you from the station
By Bus: Shepton Mallet. We will collect you from the drop off point.

Contact

Your guides on this holiday are:
Cheryl Tettmar (also known as 'Pepper'): mobile (+44)07977163032.
email: cheryltettmar@gmail.com

Jo Reed: mobile (+44) 07928590155
email: joannereed05@gmail.com

Please get in contact with either of us if you have any questions, concerns about the holiday, need more information or some help with booking. We would love for you to join us.