I think Avalon is the most magical place in the world.
No, not Avalon, New Jersey (though, I’ve heard it can be lovely), but the magical, mist shrouded island from the King Arthur mythology. In the legends, Avalon is where King Arthur was taken after he was gravely wounded by Mordred. It is the place where he rests, waiting for the time when the world needs him to come back. The magical island figures heavily in one of my favorite King Arthur retellings, The Mists of Avalon, where it is home to a group of Celtic priestesses, including Arthur’s sister, Morgan le Fey. In all stories, it is a place of magic and wonder, protected by mists and mystery.
In the late 12th century, monks from Glastonbury in Somerset, England claimed to have found the bones of Arthur and Guinevere. Around that time, Glastonbury and it’s marshlands became associated with the magical Avalon. In some legends, Avalon gave way to Christianity and modern life and simply became Glastonbury, in others both lands exist simultaneously, but on different planes of existence.
Either way, the legend of Avalon and Glastonbury and it’s crowning Tor have filled my imagination since childhood. When The Dude and I went to England a few years ago, I knew that we had to go there.
I remember driving up to Glastonbury and seeing in the distance a mist-shrouded peak. I remember my breath catching in my throat when, through the haze, I could just make out the outline of monument on the Tor. I couldn’t believe that it was real and that it was right in front of me.
The town itself is charming and whimsical and absolutely embraces (and capitalizes on!) its mystical heritage and mythology. We stayed at a wonderful B&B (Parsnips; I highly recommend it!) that was a short walk from both the main drag in the town and the Tor. We had delicious and satisfying meals at Hundred Monkeys Cafe and The Who’d a Thought It. We wandered through the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey and saw the (alleged) burial place of Arthur and Guinevere. We even bought some of their famous hard cider home with us!
And, naturally, we trekked up the spiraling pathway to the Tor. I loved the sheep and goats (the Dude even made a friend) and how quiet everything was. The sun was shining brightly that day, but there was a slight breeze that made the hike comfortable. You could smell grass and clover and earth and poop (lots of sheep and goats, remember); the smells made walking through a legend seem so real, so grounded. I never lost the awe that comes from walking through a place you’ve read about for your whole life, I just felt more connected to it.