Three walking routes in England for the aspiring pilgrim

From a walk through neolithic “horizon architecture” to a trek to the Isle of Avalon. Jasper Spires reports.

The ancient route from Great Malvern Priory to Worcester Cathedral

From the awe-inspiring stained-glass windows of the Great Malvern Priory to the booming hall of Worcester Cathedral, this journey along the River Severn should inspire any modern-day pilgrim. “I feel the ghosts of the distant past stirring in my pilgrim bones,” says Pamela Goodman in the Financial Times, recalling her own trip between the holy sites. Trekking between the chapels, through the idyllic apple orchards and fields of Worcestershire, can itself be a form of tranquil meditation upon the journeys of pilgrims past, and would make a perfect getaway after a long lockdown.

Stay at the Eckington Manor hotel (eckingtonmanor.co.uk, £158), says Harriet O’Brien in The Daily Telegraph, “an epicurean haven on the fringes of the Cotswolds”. Feast on the hay-smoked lamb and enjoy your well-earned rest. 

Hiking Up Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor, a conical hill topped with a ruined church tower in the Somerset town of Glastonbury, has long been a site of pilgrimage for Christians, pagans and other mystics across the UK. “It’s as mysterious as Atlantis,” says Delilah Khomo in Tatler magazine – the town has rich historical and mythical ties to the legends of King Arthur, the Holy Grail and Avalon. If you’re looking for a path to inner peace, a long climb up the Tor is sure to set you on your way.

Stay in the nearby Durslade Farmhouse (dursladefarmhouse.co.uk), which costs from £350 to £1,500 a night. The Dursdale has a rustic, traditional aesthetic, but that’s been paired nicely with mind-expanding experimental art and a video installation by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist. The local Osip restaurant is headed by the appropriately named Michelin-starred chef Merlin Labron-Johnson. 

The Old Stones Way in the Peak District

Cows on Higger Tor in the Peak District

From the summit of Higger Tor on the Pennine moorlands southwest of Sheffield, you can see your destination 25 miles south: the neolithic burial site of Minninglow. Pilgrims on this trail will see various old stones and prehistoric sites dotted along the way, creating a mysterious landscape design of “horizon architecture”, says Guy Hayward in The Guardian. “There is a joy in engaging with this sight-line technology and feeling the awe our ancestors must have felt.”

The Cavendish Hotel (devonshirehotels.co.uk, £170) provides the perfect place to put your feet up at the end of the day’s walk. It’s “the swishest” hotel in the area, says Jane Knight in The Mail on Sunday. And if you still have energy after a day on the moor, the Cavendish can arrange tours of the 105 acres of gardens at nearby Chatsworth House.

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