1920's pioneer photographer, Alfred Watkins, started to roll a ball when he began to re-chart lines across the globe joining the sacred sites of prehistoric peoples. The web of lines link holy places marked by anything from wells and mounds to stone crosses, pre-Christian churches and vast monolithic structures or tree clusters, all standing in exact alignments over long or short distances.

Today we call the lines 'Ley', after the place where Mr Watkins began his research. Current theory suggests the Ley philosophy might not be a post-hippie phenomenon, rejected by all except tofu-munching 'Earth Mysteryists', but that Ley lines really are conducting natural, powerful earth energy that is beneficial to all. This idea has led to a wonderful re-emergence of ancient Druid practices and pilgrimages from holy site to holy site. Alfred Watkins believed that anyone following their path across country would undergo an enriching of the soul and a deepening of understanding. Whether or not you share this faith, taking a trip along England's most famous Ley line, the remarkably long St Michael's Ley, brings immediate reward, simply because it is one of the most picturesque trails in the country and the ancient sites are spectacular to behold. From Stonehenge, through Wiltshire, Glastonbury and Dartmoor; down to the wide light of Cornwall there is plenty to enjoy. If you happen to reach enlightenment on the way - well, that has to be a bonus!

What to Expect

Start at Stonehenge. It doesn't actually sit on the St Michael's Ley but is disputably linked to it, via nearby Avebury. Arguments aside, it is an essential place to visit. There is an excellent education centre explaining the origin, history and spiritual significance of this awesome stone circle. High up on Salisbury Plain, but only a couple of hours' drive from London, it is the perfect start to a spiritual adventure.

Next stop is Avebury, six miles from the beautiful market town of Marlborough, in Wiltshire. Here, a huge stone circle, measuring 421 metres around, partially encloses the village and is shrouded in ancient riddles and mystery. It is said that the number of stones is never the same, no matter how many times they are counted. Known as the Outer Circle this ancient, monolithic structure is only one point of interest in this pretty little English village. There is also a fifteenth-century church and a renowned museum holding the skeleton of a medieval barber surgeon, found crushed under one of the ancient stones during a 1930's excavation.

The Ley line runs on to the extraordinary, almost comical hump of Glastonbury Tor, which rises out of the Somerset levels above Glastonbury town and from a distance looks like a cartoon bump on the head, steep sided and impossibly solitary. The view from the top is 360 degrees of sheer wonder as the typical patchwork English countryside is laid out before the viewer like a huge quilt. This place is bubbling with legend and mystique. It's rumoured to be the Isle of Avalon and the resting place of King Arthur where he waits to be resurrected when England once more needs its 'once and future king'. Another legend states that Glastonbury is the home of the Holy Grail, placed there by Joseph of Arimathea. The Chalice Well and Abbey ruins are great visitor attractions and the whole of the town is steeped in visible Avalonian mystery, from the natural-healing centre to the quirky little shops, filled with brightly-dressed Druids and happy, modern-day hippies.

Burrowbridge Mump, near Taunton in Somerset, is another big bump in flat countryside. Holding the ruins of St. Michael's Church, also known as King Alfred's Fort, the Mump is probably man-made, as the red clay of its origin is not abundant in this particular area. Nearby, Taunton is an old market town with a few top-notch restaurants, notably the Castle Hotel, original stomping ground of renowned chef Gary Rhodes and well worth a visit.

Moving from Somerset into Devon, Brentor is a famous haunt of ramblers who adore the wide-open spaces of Dartmoor. The Ley line is marked by the tiny church of St Michael Du Rupe and is best visited when the wind is howling around the steeple! The splendid stannary town of Tavistock is only four miles away and is a fantastic little town with a pannier market, tiny, specialist shops, a famous delicatessen, beautiful architecture and the River Tavy, fastest flowing river in England, running through the centre and surrounded by delightful parkland.

Tavistock is only a few miles from the River Tamar, which succinctly separates Devon from our next stop Cornwall. Again, bursting with history, intrigue, legend and superstition, Bodmin Moor is the chosen direction of our energy line. The Hurlers, in the village of Minions near Liskeard, are three stone circles, one of which is said to be a group of dancers who turned to stone as a punishment for dancing on a Sunday. The St Michael's Ley passes through the circles and through an impressive granite pile, known as the Cheesewring for its similarity to a cheese press. Ruined mine works are dotted around the site and add to the air of mystery that is so real it is almost touchable, especially when the infamous Bodmin Moor mists come down.

We now travel further down through Cornwall to our resting-place, the great granite crag of St Michael's Mount that rises from Mount's Bay in the coastal town of Marazion. This part of Cornwall is beautiful at any time of year. The light is legendary and perfect for artists. An exotic garden clings to the roughened flanks of the island, which also offers visitors an ancient harbour, shops, restaurants and an audio-visual history. According to legend, the mount was built by a giant named Cormoran who died when a human tricked him into falling into a pit that was disguised by turf. The island can be reached by a causeway from Marazion at low tide, or by boat in high water.

But what happens to the Ley line? Does it just stop here, vanish into thin air, fizzle out or continue? As it meets the sea there are, of course, no significant monuments, man-made places of worship or monoliths to mark it. But that doesn't mean that it ends here. Looking out to sea and beyond it is more than a little coincidental to find many places on the coast of France bearing St Michael's name.

Where to stay and how to get there

Stonehenge, Avebury, Glastonbury Tor, Burrowbridge Mump, The Hurler's and St Michael's Mount all have wonderful settings within easy reach of good accommodation, excellent food and several other attractions. The places to stay listed below have been chosen for comfort with many of them having an added twist that can only enhance a journey of this kind.

Stonehenge and Avebury. Take the M25, A3 A303 and the A388 to Salisbury.

The Edwardian Lodge Guest House (4 Star)
59 Castle Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 3RH
Tel: + 44 (0)1722 413329
Fax: + 44 (0)1722 503105
Beautifully restored 100-year old property only 10 minutes' walk from the centre of Salisbury and 15 minutes to Salisbury Cathedral. There is a lovely riverside drive to Stonehenge that takes about 20 minutes.

Witherington Farm
Near Downton, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 3QT
Tel: +44 (0)1722 710222
Fax: +44 (0)1722 710405
Owned and run by Annette and Ian Fergie-Woods this 600-acre working farm dates back to the eleventh century and is listed in the Doomsday Book. Oak beams and wide-open fireplaces are some of the accommodation's endearing old qualities. There is also a two-acre garden and plenty of opportunity for walking and riding in surrounding countryside.

Slightly further along the A303 is Warminster on the A36 and the superb Bishopstrow House.

Bishopstrow House Hotel
Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 9HH
Tel: +44 (0)1985 212312
Fax: +44 (0)1985 216769
Charming Georgian country house built in 1817 and set amidst idyllic English gardens. Close both to Stonehenge, Avebury and the Royal City of Bath, this hotel is the perfect base for the first leg of your Leyline journey. Indoor and outdoor tennis courts, heated pools and beauty treatments at the Ragdale Spa by Michaeljohn of London and Beverly Hills.

Glastonbury. A303, A37 to Shepton Mallett and A361 to Glastonbury.

Wyrrall House
78 The Roman Way, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 8AD
Tel: +44 (0)1458 835510
Fax: +44 (0)870 0568111
English Tourism Council 5 Diamonds Silver Award
Panoramic views of the countryside from one acre of luscious, peaceful gardens. Luxurious accommodation and friendly non-smoking atmosphere.

Shambhala Healing Centre
Coursing Batch, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 8BH
Tel: +44 (0)1458 831797
Fax: +44 (0)1458 834751
AA 2 Diamonds
The ideal place to rest, relax and enjoy a whole body Glastonbury experience. Physical and emotional healing in a place where the St Michael's Ley cuts straight through the middle.

Burrowbridge Mump. Continue on the A361 towards Taunton.

Castle Hotel
Castle Green, Taunton, Somerset TA1 1NF
Tel: +44 (0)1823 272671
Fax: +44 (0)1823 336066
First-class restaurant and accommodation in a beautiful old building in the centre of Taunton.

Rumwell Manor Hotel
Rumwell, Taunton, Somerset TA4 1EL
Tel: +44 (0)1823 461902
Fax: +44 (0)1823 461902
English Tourism Council 3 Stars
Another hotel standing in exceptional grounds. This time the gardens extend to five acres and overlook the Somerset countryside under the backdrop of the Blackdown Hills. Good food and peaceful, secluded setting.
From Taunton join the M5 South, then A30 for Dartmoor and Cornwall. Leave the A30 at Okehampton and follow the A386 towards Tavistock.


Tor Cottage
Chillaton, Near Tavistock, Devon PL16 0JE
Tel: +44 (0)1822 860248
Fax: +44 (0)1822 860126
English Tourism Council 5 Diamonds, Gold Award
Nestled in a private valley between Dartmoor and the idyllic Tamar Valley, Tor cottage is surrounded by 18 acres of wildlife hillsides and streams.

The Coach House
Ottery, Tavistock, Devon PL19 8NS
Tel: +44 (0)1822 617515
Fax: +44 (0)1822 617515
Built in 1857 for the Duke of Bedford, this charming hotel has everything necessary for warm winter evenings. Good food, open fires and large, comfortable beds. The Hurlers. From Tavistock take the B3362 to rejoin the A30 near Launceston. Bolventor is on the A30 and The Hurlers are signposted there.

Jamaica Inn
Bolventor, Launceston, Cornwall PL15 7TS
Tel: +44 (0)1566 86250
Fax: +44 (0)1566 86177
Legendary coaching house made famous by Daphne Du Maurier's novel of the same name, standing high and desolate on the wilds of Bodmin Moor where it has been for over 400 years. Comfortable rooms, good food, warm, friendly atmosphere and the added interest of an in-house curiosity museum and re-creation of Daphne Du Maurier's study.

St Michael's Mount. Rejoin the A30, which travels all the way down to Penzance, through Marazion.

Higher Faugan Hotel
Chywoone Hill, Newlyn, Penzance, Cornwall TR18 5NS
Tel: +44 (0)1736 362076
Fax: +44 (0)1736 351648
Gracious country house hotel built by Stanhope Forbes, founder of the Newlyn School of Art. Newlyn is a most charming, typical Cornish fishing village overlooking Mount's Bay and St Michael's Mount.

Land's End Hotel
Land's End, Nr Penzance, Cornwall TR19 7AA
Tel: +44 (0)1736 871844
Fax: +44 (0)1736 871599
English Tourism Council 3 Star
Dine here in the all-glass dining room for a spectacular view of the ever-changing Atlantic Ocean. Award-winning team of chefs specialise in creative dishes made from freshly caught Newlyn harbour fish and shellfish.

Pre-Travel Check List

It would be very difficult to undertake this journey without a car. Car hire is therefore highly recommended for visitors from overseas.

Information about the hotels mentioned here and further accommodation options are available on the following web site: www.smoothhound.co.uk

For specific area information:

Stonehenge and Avebury www.plus44.com/towns/avebury/town.html

Glastonbury www.gcircle.co.uk/listings/ioa/lisiaac.htm

Brentor/Tavistock www.westcountrylinks.co.uk/map/taviskock.htm

The Hurlers and Cheesewring www.touruk.co.uk/cornwall/corn_scl.htm

St Michael's Mount www.foodincornwall.com

Recommended reading

Stonehenge Revealed, by David Souden (Hardcover - November 1997)

Glastonbury Tarot: Timeless wisdom from the Isle of Avalon, by Lisa Tenzin Dolma, et al. Paperback (November 1999)

The following two books are out of print but available in libraries:

Megalithic Odyssey, by Christian O'Brien

Celtic Divination, Witchcraft Dowsing and Ley Lines, by Rhuddlwm Gawr

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