– If you’re looking for a family walk with a bit of everything, this is the one for you!
Glastonbury is a market town in the middle of the Somerset Levels with a big reputation. The name is synonymous with the music festival that is held every year in June.
The famous festival is actually held in the nearby village of Pilton about 6 miles away and was originally called the Pilton Pop, Folk and Blues Festival in 1970. Glastonbury Festival is now the largest greenfield and performing arts festival in the world.
Another reason people flock to this Somerset town is to climb the famous Tor. It’s a spiritual place steeped in myths and legends.
Glastonbury Tor has been a place of pilgrimage by Christians and Pagans for the last 1000 years. It is known as one of the most spiritual places in England. Climbing the Tor is one of the highlights of visiting Somerset.
On top of Glastonbury Tor are the ruins of St Michael church bell tower. This iconic tower can be seen for miles around. It has been designated a scheduled monument. If you go inside you’ll see that there is no longer a bell, or even a roof.
Glastonbury has been associated with the legend of King Arthur since the 12th century. Glastonbury Abbey is thought to be the burial place of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere.
The Abbey is a monastery founded in the 8th Century, one of the earliest Christian sites in England. Although, Christian legends have claimed that the abbey was founded by Joseph of Arimathea in the 1st century.
Now in ruins, it’s a Grade 1 listed building and a scheduled ancient monument. Glastonbury Abbey was once one of the wealthiest and most powerful monasteries in England. You can visit the Abbey and museum which has a wealth of artefacts from the medieval period on display. Click here to find out what’s on – family activities; and buy tickets for the Abbey.
Glastonbury High Street
This interesting high street offers a unique shopping experience with its quirky independent shops selling healing crystals, incense, tarot cards, jewellery, clothes and gifts.
How to Get to Glastonbury
From the M5 (Jct 23) follow A39 to Glastonbury (30 mins); 6 miles south-west from Wells follow A39;
From London:M3 then A303 and A37
A seasonal park and ride bus runs from Glastonbury town centre.
The closest railway station is Castle Cary. An alternative is Bristol Temple Meads.
Level of Difficulty
I would rate this Glastonbury Tor walk as Easy/Moderate. The Tor climb is steep but only takes 15-20 minutes. The rest of the walk is level and easy. You can walk this route all year round because it has paved/gravel paths.
Best time to hike Glastonbury Tor
This Glastonbury Tor circular route can be walked at any time of year. But I recommend a clear, sunny day for the best views from the top of the Tor across the Somerset Levels. We walked this route in November. Summer and Winter Solstice are celebrated at Glastonbury Tor because of its spiritual significance. People flock here to watch the sunset/sunrise from the top.
Glastonbury Tor Circular Walk Directions
🥾 The walk starts on Chilkwell Street at the junction of Bere Lane. From Bere Lane turn right into Chilkwell Street and immediately cross over the road. Follow the pavement past the houses until you reach The Chalice Well and Gardens.
The water from this ancient natural spring is reputed to possess healing qualities. Click here for visitor information.
🥾 Continue past the Chalice Well and turn left into Wellhouse Lane. You’ll see a public footpath on your right to the Tor.
Before you turn up this footpath, continue a little way up Wellhouse Lane. See if you can spot the Lion’s head fountain in a garden wall. The water comes from the same spring as the Chalice Well. It is known as the red Spring due to its high iron content. The spring is directed via a pipe to the fountain where you can drink from and fill a water bottle. There is a Well House on the opposite side of the lane which provides water from the nearby White Spring. This gets its name from the white calcium rich water. Both springs come from the caverns beneath Glastonbury Tor.
🥾 Return to the footpath and follow this uphill taking you directly to Glastonbury Tor. There may be livestock grazing in this area. It should only take about 15-20 minutes to walk to the top and there is a bench half way up to stop and admire the view.
🥾 At the top, you’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views over the Somerset Levels across three counties. The directional dial type plaque points out the view points in every direction, including Brean Down and Cheddar Gorge.
Stop here for a picnic if you have one. Explore the ruins of St Michael’s church before heading back down.
🥾 You can either use the same path you walked up, or take the second (slightly steeper) path to the south of the Tor. If you take the second path, take the right hand path and keep right until you join the original path back to Wellhouse Lane.
🥾 Turn right into Chilkwell Street and continue for half a mile until you reach High Street. Turn left down High Street and walk to the end. You’ll pass the Glastonbury Museum at The Tribunal.
The Tribunal is a beautiful late 15th Century building with an early Tudor facade. It was thought to have been the courtroom of Glastonbury Abbey. (Museum open on weekends only and part of English Heritage).
🥾 Follow the road round to the left through Market Place full of cafe’s and restaurants. You’ll see the Abbey Gatehouse on your left. Take a detour into the Abbey and grounds if you have time. Click here for ticket information.
🥾 Continue past Glastonbury Information Centre on your left and walk along Magdalene Street.
🥾 Walk straight ahead onto Fisher’s Hill. You’ll soon see Abbey Park on your left.
If you have time and have children with you, turn left into Abbey Park Walk and take a detour into Abbey Park where you’ll find a children’s playground.
🥾 Turn left out the park and follow the road round to the left into Bere Lane. Continue up Bere Lane, past the Somerset Rural Life Museum and back to the start of the walk.
Things to Note
Glastonbury Tor is free to visit and is owned and managed by The National Trust.
Glastonbury Tor can get very busy at the weekend, in the summer, and during Summer and Winter Solstice. Parking can be more difficult during these times. If you park on the street, please park responsibly.
Although there are no toilets or places to eat at the Tor, there are plenty of options for refreshments around the high street and Glastonbury town centre and there are public toilets on Magdalene Street.
The first part of the walk is a steep incline to the summit of Glastonbury Tor. The paths are concrete and there is a bench half way up. This section can be missed out if you prefer. The rest of the route is level around Glastonbury.
What to wear and bring with you
I recommend wearing a good pair of walking boots/shoes or trainers to provide support and comfort.
I always recommend taking plenty of water with you to keep hydrated. There are lovely360° views from the top, so I suggest taking some binoculars. I recommend taking a picnic to eat at the top (if weather permits). Snacks are always a good idea. If, like us, you are walking with children, we find snacks/food are essential!
Other things to do around Glastonbury
Glastonbury Mural Trail
The mural trail is a collection of over 50 pieces of art around Glastonbury town. It was created by a community of artists and is free to view. Explore the trail by using the online interactive map or pick up a map at the information centre in town.
Avalon Marshes Centre
The Avalon Marshes Centre is an internationally important lowland wetland owned and managed by Natural England. There is a visitor centre, craft shop and cafe, and replica historic buildings. Avalon Marshes is a great place to see starling murmurations in winter. Follow the Bittern Trail, a family-friendly circular walking/cycle route which joins Glastonbury with Avalon Marshes through Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath Nature Reserves.
Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath Nature Reserves
Ham Wall is an English wetland National Nature Reserve 4 kilometres west of Glastonbury on the Somerset Levels. It is managed by the RSPB. Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve is 2 miles away. They are easily accessible with a network of tracks, trails and viewing areas.
Take a trip to Cheddar Gorge and caves which is about 13 miles from Glastonbury. You can spend a whole day exploring the caves, museum, walking the cliff top and wandering around the village. Click here for our 4 mile Cheddar Gorge Circular Cliff Top Walk.
There is lots to see including the Gothic Cathedral, Vicar’s Close – the oldest residential street in Europe, the Bishop’s Palace and Gardens, Wells Market Place and the Wells and Mendip Museum. Click here for our Guide to Visiting Wells.
Wookey Hole Caves
Wookey Hole is home to the largest show caves in the UK. This tourist attraction is a fun day out for the family where you can explore Dinosaur Grove, a paper mill, watch a circus show and play adventure golf.
Next, read this blog post Visit Glastonbury, Somerset: A Day Out On The Bus
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