Glastonbury Tor is one of the most spiritual and mystical places you’ll find in all of Somerset. Bursting with mystery and myths, this well-loved Somerset landmark has captivated endless visitors to stroll up it’s slopes for Millennia.
Standing proud over Glastonbury town and the entire Somerset Levels, this iconic church ruin is perched high on the summit of an ancient hill. A powerful and sacred landmark that attracts tourists from all over the world.
Even if you’re sceptical about the magic and fairy tales surrounding Glastonbury Tor. It’s still a beautiful walk with breath-taking panoramic views that anyone would enjoy.
In this article...
Is Glastonbury Tor manmade or natural?
Because of its unusual composition, many believe Glastonbury Tor is a manmade hill. Yet It’s actually natural.
There are a few different theories regarding the tiered ripples on the sides of the hill. Some believe the maze like pattern was to guide pilgrims to the summit. While geologists think the terraces were created during the medieval time, as a place to grow crops and graze animals on when the rest of the land flooded.
Many moons ago, Glastonbury Tor was known as the ‘Isle of Avalon’ as it was an island surrounded by a marshland sea. Over thousands of years the water levels drained creating a low lying land that was rich in agriculture. This land is now known as the Somerset Levels, and when it floods, it’s like looking through a little window into the past.
Glastonbury Tor sits on a magical Ley-Line
Some people believe ley lines are invisible lines that boast powerful vibrational energy, crossing all over the globe sort of like a spider web. Many believe that spiritual and historical sites are built on these ley-lines, making their vibrational energy all connect with one another.
Apparently the power of Earths energy is strongest where the ley lines intersect, and Glastonbury is one of those locations.
Why is Glastonbury so spiritual?
The entire town of Glastonbury has an incredibly strong spiritual vibe. A place known by some as the ‘heart chakra of the earth’. People from all over the globe venture here to gain some spiritual guidance, and feel it’s powerful and healing vibrational energy.
Glastonbury is rich in history and myths, as apparently the mythical King Arthur was buried at Glastonbury Abbey. Although any evidence of this is a little skewed! It’s quite possible that the monks of the 12th century fabricated this story up, with a grand plan of attracting visitors to raise money for the repair the abbey.
I’ve never been to another town quite like Glastonbury. It’s so different to your usual high street, making it an experience in itself. You’ll see crystal shops, sound healing shops, and plenty of people walking around town with bare feet and bright outfits.
Expect to see bizarre things in this colourful town, and breathe in the strong incense filled air.
What does ‘Tor’ mean?
‘Tor’ is an old West Country word of Celtic origin, which simply means ‘hill’.
How high is Glastonbury Tor?
The summit of Glastonbury Tor is 158 meters high, offering incredible views over three counties including Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire.
Is the walk up Glastonbury Tor hard?
There are three official routes up Glastonbury Tor. Although two of these merge to be the same path for the majority of the way. One path consists of a fairly steep incline walk along the road to reach the back of the tor. Alternatively, there is a shorter (and usually busier) route which zigzags up the front of Glastonbury Tor instead.
The route you chose will play a factor into how hard you find the trek. Although both will probably get your heart-rate rising – you’re going uphill after all! We tend to ascend one way and head back down the other to make a loop.
I would say its a fairly easy walk as its quite short, taking roughly 20-30 minutes at a casual pace. My two young children have made it up easy enough, and you often see little ones at the top. So if they can do it, you can to!
Both the path and steps are simple to navigate and well maintained. The majority of the way is wide enough to stand aside and let people pass if you need to catch your breath. There are also a few benches along the way to enjoy the views and take a quick rest.
Whether you find it easy or hard, the views from the top are well worth the effort. On a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views all across beautiful Somerset and beyond.
Routes to walk up Glastonbury Tor
Begin the shorter route at Wellhouse Lane, which is opposite a red and blue house. You’ll see a stone sign on the ground pointing you in the right direction. Head up the hill on the right and go through a kissing gate. Keep to the right and follow the trail through a field. You’ll then go through another kissing gate and begin taking the steps to the top. This route is only 0.7km from the bottom to the summit.
For the other two routes, continue further up Wellhouse Lane. You’ll walk past a Victorian pump house called White Spring, which its free to enter (although its only unlocked at certain times). People come into this dark candle lit chamber to worship, cleanse in the cold magical waters and meditate. There’s also a few natural springs here where you’ll see lots of people filling up their drinking water bottles. Word of warning – nude bathing is permitted, so you sometimes see people stripped down to their birthday suits. For everyone’s privacy, photography in here is strictly forbidden.
Carry on uphill past the White Spring, and before long you’ll see a path on the right that will have you making a sharp hairpin turn. The gate is clearly marked ‘Glastonbury Tor’. Walk through that field and you’ll join the same route that I first mentioned.
Alternatively, to take the quietest (and longest) route, ignore that gate and continue walking skyward along the tarmac road. Eventually you’ll reach a wooden kissing gate on your right, then simply follow this track through the fields to the summit. This route is 1.3km long.
Glastonbury Tor parking
There is no general parking at Glastonbury Tor, and you’re no longer allowed to park along the narrow Wellhouse Lane. They have put large stone boulders to prevent people parking and causing blockages, as it used to be chaos! At the base of the hill (near the white spring) there is a small gap where the road is a little wider and some people park there. You would be incredibly lucky to get a spot there as it’s only big enough for a max of 3 or 4 cars. At the top of Wellhouse Lane there are 3 disabled parking spaces. Sadly these are rarely used by the people who actually need it.
The closest car park to Glastonbury Tor is at the R J Draper & Co shoe factory which is just off Chilkwell Street, less than half a mile away. To purchase a ticket, you have to go up into the factory shop where they will hand you one to display on your dash. Parking here is £3 for 3 hours or £5 for the day.
If that car park is full, you could try and find some on street parking around Glastonbury town (Make sure its not timed or permit only). Or use one of the main pay and display carparks in the centre of Glastonbury.
We parked in the carpark at Butts Close. From there it’s just over half a mile to walk to the base of Glastonbury Tor with pavements all the way there. They do get narrow in some places, especially as you get nearer to the Tor so be careful of the cars!
Is Glastonbury Tor Free?
Glastonbury Tor is FREE to visit and is owned by the National Trust. It’s also open 24/7 so you can visit this historic site whenever your heart desires.
It’s a popular destination all year long, but expect it to be particularly busy during Summer Solstice and on New Years Day!
What’s inside the tower on Glastonbury Tor?
Originally a wooden church sat on the peak of Glastonbury Tor, but that sadly crumbled in 1275 when an earthquake shook the land.
The 14th century St. Michaels Church replaced the wooden church, but it was later destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII. The only part that remains is the bell tower, although there is no longer a bell in here, nor is there a roof!
There are a couple stone benches in here, so take a seat and enjoy the welcoming breeze that blows through the parallel archways.
What is there to do at Glastonbury tor?
Other than religious or spiritual reasons, the main reason people hike up here is to enjoy the uninterrupted panoramic views over the Somerset levels. On a clear day you’ll be able to see all the way to Brean Down!
I grew up in a small village near Glastonbury so I’ve been up Glastonbury Tor countless times! But on every visit, there’s always something a little unusual happening. To name a few, I’ve watched people running circles around the tower and kissing it on every lap, and I’ve seen groups of strangers standing in a line and taking it in turns to hug each other for an entire 5 minutes. I think its great that people feel so free here to be unapologetically themselves.
Like I said, Glastonbury is an experience – come with an open mind and just enjoy it!
Bring a picnic and a book up with you, and enjoy spotting a variety of wildlife that call this place home. We saw a rare hummingbird hawk-moth on our last visit!
It’s easy to enjoy spending a couple hours up here in the sunshine. Just make sure you take all your rubbish back down with you, and keep the site clean for everyone else to enjoy.
Places to stay in Glastonbury
Glastonbury has lots of different accommodation options from quirky and unique stays, to budget friendly Premier Inn and Travelodge. Find a great accommodation option here!
Other places to visit nearby
If you’re seeking more picture-postcard views, why not head over to Cheddar Gorge – the largest gorge in England! You’ll set your eyes on towering pinnacles and views like these.