It was just a little mention in Waitrose Weekend magazine but as those of you who follow me on Instagram will already know, I was very, very excited to see a Baby Routes walk featured in pride of place in Clare Balding’s Easter Walks double spread feature ‘Spiritual Journeys’! It came completely out of the blue and was entirely unexpected. If it hadn’t been for my eagle-eyed sister in fact, I would never have known about it at all!
Now I always get a little squeamish in that very English way about blowing my own trumpet but I have to admit that a mention from Clare Balding made me feel pretty proud. As well as being in awe of her sparkling career, I often tune into Clare’s program ‘Ramblings’ on Radio 4, virtually exploring new landscapes from my office desk when my own boots are sadly confined to the cupboard. Her wanderings, usually in the company of different types of fellow walkers, remind me of people’s strong attachment to the land and travel by foot, whether through history, geography, wildlife, working ties or feelings of mental and physical well-being out in the natural world. As Clare Balding writes in her feature for Waitrose, ‘Walking is a spiritual practice that connects us with the natural world and helps us achieve a meditative state.’ I couldn’t agree more.
The featured Baby Routes walk in question was a lovely circular wander that takes you up to Glastonbury Tor on the Somerset Levels. I grew up in the area and it is a place that has always fascinated me due to its association with the mystical and magical.The tor itself towers above the surrounding landscape of the flat Somerset levels, drawing the eye for miles around. Glastonbury Tor is supposedly the location of the legendary isle of Avalon from Arthurian legend, with 12th Century monks from the area claiming to have found the bones of King Arthur and his queen Guinevere here. The area is also associated with druids, witchcraft and lies on a ley line – a mysterious invisible line along the earth that is thought to have carried significance to our ancient ancestors, perhaps because of its magnetic field properties or astronomical significance (the ley line that falls across Glastonbury runs from Penzance to Great Yarmouth, following the line of the sun on the 8th May).
The Glastonbury Tor Walk also has special significance for me personally. I walked and mapped this particular route the week I went home to the West Country to choose my wedding dress, not long after starting Baby Routes. My dress itself did not come from Glastonbury but rather from a wonderful little bridal boutique Parham House Brides in the pretty village of Dunster down near the wilds of Exmoor – a place I associate with childhood weekend trips and Duke of Edinburgh training in my teens. Places and landscapes hold huge significance for me as portals to the past and to important people in my life, past and present. After rejecting countless dresses from smart city boutiques in Reading, Bristol and Guildford, that corner on the edge of wild Exmoor was a fitting place for me to finally find the wedding dress for me. My mother and I celebrated with a walk up to the top of nearby county top Dunkery Beacon. The whole week was gorgeous weather and I spent much of it revisiting childhood haunts to record walks for Baby Routes including this visit to Glastonbury Tor. It was a very happy visit. Given the common theme of linking a physical place to human experiences on ‘Ramblings’, this particular walk seems a very appropriate one for Clare Balding’s feature though of course, she or her editorial team would have had no idea of its personal significance for me.
As well as the Baby Routes Glastonbury Tor walk, Is should mention that Clare Balding also featured two other lovely walks with spiritual connections you might like to try – a 4 mile circular at Tintagel with pub lunch options from iwalkcornwall.co.uk and a 6 mile round walk at Avebury from the National Trust, I can confirm that Avebury is a top spot for walking – better in my opinion than its more famous sister Stonehenge. It is where we started our family Ridgeway National Trail challenge from and also mapped a couple of Baby Routes walks of our own. Tintagel is another place with links to Arthurian legend. I have visited in pre-Baby Routes days – perhaps I should explore it again when I am next in Cornwall?
Finally, I am, as ever, incredibly humbled by and thankful to all the people out there trying out my routes and reading the blog – something this little mention in Waitrose Weekend magazine brought home to me. So let me use this opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you to you all.