The Mary and Michael Pilgrims’ Way – 350 miles – 5 weeks – Carn Lês Boel to Avebury. The route passes through diverse landscapes of verdant Cornwall, bleak Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor, calming Somerset Levels and gentle Wiltshire. It connects significant Pre-Christian and Christian sites following a line across England that is drawn from two parallel energy lines – the Mary and Michael lines. These earth energy currents were sensed by Hamish Miller and Paul Broadhurst and described in their book ‘The Sun and The Serpent’. Whatever you might think about the veracity of such currents there is no doubt that the route contains a surprising density of extraordinary holy places along it.
From the very southwesterly tip of Cornwall, Carn Lês Boel, you pass the Boscawen-ûn stone circle, meeting place of bards; the dramatic causeway island of St Michael’s Mount, once known as the second Rome due to the number of pilgrims it attracted; the anchoress and cross at St Stithians; Menacuddle Well; Golitha Waterfalls National Nature Reserve; the high moorland Hurlers Stone Circle; the mini-mountain of Brentor with one of the smallest churches in England on its summit, called St Michael’s; Yes Tor with its burial mounds; the touchstone of the Belstone Ring Cross; the pregnancy-inducing South Zeal Menhir stone (which holds up a restaurant); Dartmoor’s Kes Tor with panoramic views and a pure water rock basin used in prehistoric ritual; the giant parish church of Crediton; Cadbury Castle’s dragon; the dragon-slaying church of Trull; fairytale Corfe Castle; Burrowbridge Mump and the ever-inspiring Glastonbury Tor, both with a St Michael’s Church and Tower on top, the Tor being a place of pilgrimage for 10,000 years at least; St Aldhelm’s bathing well at Doulting; the island lake church at Orchardleigh; Windmill Hill Round Barrow, the oldest site in the Avebury complex, and of course Avebury’s stone circle, the largest in the world, and also, at 2300 years, the site of longest continuous ritual use.
This route has a potency that can only be truly experienced, but it is long. Therefore, it works very well to divide it into sections that mean something to you.
Diverse and soul-nourishing landscapes
Integrating the Christian and Pre-Christian
Deep mythology attached to many of the holy places
Running theme of St Michael-dedicated churches atop hills and mounds
Cyclists – see this website for a bike-friendly version of this pilgrimage route.
Holy Places along route listed in our book Britain’s Pilgrim Places: St Michael’s Mount; St Neot; St Cleer; Crediton; Glastonbury; Doulting.
Sanctuary available at Pennymoor between Crediton and Tiverton. Low-cost hostels along route – Land’s End, Penzance YHA, Eden Project YHA, Okehampton YHA, Bracken Tor YHA, Morehamptonstead, Street YHA, Oakhill and across region and others nearby.
NB. Whilst the Mary & Michael lines carry on beyond Avebury to Hopton-on-Sea in Norfolk, the actual guidebook and official walking route has not been developed beyond Avebury.