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Posts Tagged ‘Mendip’

Glastonbury I – approach

January 21, 2011 2 comments

The road to Glastonbury. January rain. The high Mendip a cloud-smudge, hard and hollowed-out by rain, falling away behind me. The miraculous, choppy world of tiny conical hills, deep green with grass and old growth, that fringes the Levels. And then the flatlands themselves, a wetland of oceanic flatness, always ready to return to its liquid root, thick with eels.

Somerset should be two places: highland and flatland, but it’s three: this foothill world, steep and brief, that seperates the two is barely a mile wide, yet in its way it is the county’s most memorable place of all. Here Wells sits, with the waters spring from the very toehold of the Mendip; from here strips of tarmac run on ancient causeways, linking highlands to the archipelago of which Glastonbury is the largest island.

Somerset, ofcourse, is not two places or three, but one: a vast watershed whose boundary is the county itself, draining like a planet to an inland sea. It is defined by this combination of wetland and hill; and these island-uplands – Brent Knoll, Burrow Mump, Glastonbury Tor – are thus somehow its innermost definition.

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