In previous ramblings, I have spoken about how I believe the hills of Avalon to be one large paradise, composed of smaller paradises within paradises. To be honest, I was quite happy to live there. Yet, to my great pleasure, I have found that the extent of the blissful abode does not end at that. This Autumn’s walks have shed light upon a new type of paradise: those transitory paradises, or, the paradises between paradises.
These places are something more than your regular paradise, in some cases they can be the meeting point between three or more separate Edens, all gently merging at one point to enclose the viewer in a heavenly vortex. In other cases they are temporary, fleeting revelations that arise and recede with the passing clouds, and with one’s transit through the landscape. They are sometimes momentary, appearing to some on a beam of light, but remaining invisible to others, as the clouds and view point dictate. They are magical, immersive moments, where one feels completely a part of the scene – the view, viewing the view.
These revelatory occurrences appear so readily upon these lands, that one can, with good proof, claim that one is held in heavenly residence. So copious is the Manna spooned upon these hills that it is not difficult to transit across them upon the emergence of perpetual Edens.
At a spot upon Stone down, to which I walked recently, but which I visit rarely, exists an orchard paradise followed by an, equally beautiful, second orchard paradise. The first orchard houses a cow barn surrounded by two large poplar trees, a nearby willow, and an old sycamore. It sits only just in view of St Michael’s tower, the peak of a tiny Tor peering over the ridge. The orchard is hedged all the way round and packed with apples of all ages, some quite large and unwieldy, suggesting that the orchard is not regularly managed. It’s lined on one side by a hedge that once was, and is now a towering row of various mature trees.
The second apple paradise rolls down the hill following Stone down lane, with a view through the ripening fruit to the City of Wells. It is ended by a further old hedge, now a narrow wooded corridor, including a notable Norway maple that has turned bright orange, in stark contrast to the surrounding ash trees.
The lowering sun catches the bobbing heads of the last seeded blades of grass, and has them appear as dancing fairies. The dancing mosquitos gather in floating spheres to mate and appear to mimic the movement of church bell ringers, descending with resistance, then reaching up again into the light as if attached to rope and bell.
As I arrive here quietly, I see deer grazing confidently. Considering its prominent location, this might be one of the least visited little spots in Glastonbury. Barely off the beaten track, but with a convoluted means of access that ensures humans rarely make it in and the animals can roam without bother. From the bottom orchard, I chase the sunset uphill, it first descends behind the hedge separating the two orchards, illuminating the passageway like a gateway to heaven.
As I ascend the hill slowly, following the light, passing through the gateway, the sun rises again. Angular rays slice across the pasture, stretching the shadows of the apple trees out across the floor, and silhouetting them with emanating halos. I turn to see that the entrance / exit through which I have just proceeded, has been illuminated in the most pleasing ways, creating a revelatory scene, a temporary paradise, fleeting and gone within seconds, returning to be just another part of the greater paradise.
The appearance of temporary paradises, such as this, can take by surprise, it’s possible to be completely unaware of one’s placement within a paradise until the clouds open their sunlight sluice gates and the rays flood in. What was just a hedge end, a simple hawthorn standing next to a gate, ropey and partially disattired, is now revealed as a spotlit artwork of angelic beauty, bejewelled with all the colours and forms of autumn.
Continuing the ascent, I pick my way through the corridors of light and shadow, the sun disappears behind the next hedgerow, bringing focus to the two prominent, yet often overlooked, Lombardy poplars at the top of the orchard. At this time of the day, these tall trees appear like the pillars of a grand foliaged entrance way, and their shadows stretch nearly to Pilton! The poplars frame a view of the Tor, silhouetted past the stag oak as a tiny hill with a giant tower on top of it, only the shapes of tinier people circling the tower bring the scene into proper perspective.
If one times it correctly, walking in the right weather, at the correct time of the day, at the right time of year, at a lazy pace, it is possible to continue this perpetual sunset paradise all the way up the lane, past the Tor, over stone down, where the sun falls again behind the hedges, and then onto Bushy coombe, where the sun appears once again, before it makes its final descent beyond the horizon.
It might be said that these paradises do not end at the gates of Glastonbury, and in fact, the whole of the isle of Britain, or Earth itself, is a giant paradise made of paradises, within paradises, within paradises.
At times, and this is no exaggeration, it feels like perhaps these four hills of Avalon are the point from which all the paradise emanates.
I leave you with a handful of my favourite Autumn photos and a visual diary.
Until next time we walk to the trees!
More land art images can be seen in the gallery below.
A Visual Diary – Oct/Nov 2022
Autumn Tree Walks
* Last of season *
Public Tree Walks, Glastonbury – By Donation
Note: These are the final dates before we take a break in Dec and Jan.
Sun 27th Nov– Autumn Tree Walk, Glastonbury – 11am – 1pm
FB Event: https://fb.me/e/1QiheMGQt
Glastonbury Cemetery Tree Walk
Wednesday 16th Nov
11am – 12.30pm – by donation
FB Event: https://fb.me/e/2Rm4MMQzE
Abbey Tree Walk & Talk – Autumn
Note: Abbey Entry fee is not included
A gentle walk with tree ident and poetry.
Sat 19th Nov – 11am – 12.30pm – £10pp
FB Event: https://fb.me/e/30vxrWCCL
Bishops Palace Walk, Wells
Gentle walk and talk with tree ident, songs, and poetry in the grounds of Bishop’s Palace.
Sat 12th Nov – Bishop’s Palace Autumn Tree Walk – £14.50pp – 11am – 12.30pm
FB Event: https://fb.me/e/3A5Ji2dmO
Booking: 07548 936 081
Walks for individuals and groups, for birthdays, weddings, and as an add on to your retreat, at a date and time to suit you.
Call Matt to book: 07548 936 081
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