King Arthur Way – a summer solstice pilgrimage to awaken your inner sovereignty
King Arthur Stands Atop The Tintagel Cliffs in Cornwall, Sculptor Rubin Eynon
We live in dark and challenging times, although at this point of the winter solstice it is important to remember that the light will return. Yet the world needs more than an increase in daylight hours – it needs a concerted renewal of goodness, of equality and justice, of moral integrity and wisdom. We need good leaders now more than ever – yet rather than wait for them to appear (and then almost inevitably to disappoint) we need to awaken them within ourselves, to be empowered citizens who take responsibility within our communities, workplaces, and ecologies; using our skills and resources for the good of all; helping and guiding others, especially the marginalised and vulnerable – to step up, seize the sword, and shine.
With this in mind I have devised a summer solstice pilgrimage following the legendary journey of King Arthur, from conception to burial. Starting at Tintagel in Cornwall, and culminating on Glastonbury Tor at the summer solstice 2020, the pilgrimage (approx. 140 miles) will take place over a fortnight, with daily walks averaging 12 miles (some may be less, and none will be longer than 15 miles). Each day will have a theme focusing on a stage of Arthur’s story, one you will be encouraged to meditate upon throughout the day, and share reflections upon in the evening – in the form of a story, poem, song, anecdote, prayer, or insight. Any aspect of the Arthuriad may be explored – at times we may find ourselves in the company of Merlin, Morgana le Fay, Guinevere, Mordred, Gawain, the Lady of the Lake, Lancelot, Bedivere, etc – but the chief focus will be the journey of King Arthur. Ultimately it is about awakening your own inner King or Queen – to find a place at the Round Table, whatever your talents or abilities. No prior knowledge of the legendarium is needed.
I have undertaken several long-distance walks solo over the last few years – the West Highland Way, Pennine Way, Offa’s Dyke, and so forth – and although I have enjoyed those immensely I have felt the need to create a more meaningful experience. Last year I walked the Coast-to-Coast, aka the Wainwright Way) and inadvertently turned it into an accidental pilgrimage (see my article in The Pilgrim). I realised I do not want to carry on just walking existing routes which often connect almost arbitrary points on the map – I wanted to devise a route of spiritual or folkloric significance. It was actually in 2017 that I came up with the idea of the King Arthur Way – a pilgrimage route connecting Tintagel to Glastonbury Tor. I undertook a reconnaissance walk of the first stage, trekking from the north to south coast of Cornwall over a weekend. After experiencing the difficulty of that route (mainly due to the atrocious weather), I have reconfigured it, and now it takes an inland route loosely following the Michael/Mary Line – a major ley discovered by Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller, which runs southwest across England from the tip of Cornwall to Bury St Edmunds in East Anglia. There will be 12 main days of walking, with a full day at either end to experience the magic of Tintagel and Glastonbury fully. We will be taking what we need with us, camping along the way, with an occasional hostel for additional comfort and facilities. The cost of the pilgrimage for each wayfarer will be essentially the booking fees for the campsites and hostels. If people are willing to chip in a support vehicle and driver could be hired for camping gear, musical instruments, and supplies. The main thing to bear in mind is – this is not a commercial venture, but a voluntary labour of love. I have devised the pilgrimage route as a practical way to enable anyone to experience the legend of King Arthur in a direct, visceral way; celebrate our ancient, sacred, precious landscape; and to empower future leaders. The success of the pilgrimage will depend upon participants pitching in, looking out for each other, collaborating with an open heart, sharing skills and resources, and taking the initiative when necessary. The right mix will be essential. With this in mind, if you are interested in undertaking this pilgrimage, then contact me with the details below:
King Arthur Way Pilgrim Application
- Preferred gender pronoun:
- Any experience of long-distance walking?
- In 200 words describe your reasons for wishing to undertake the King Arthur Way.
- Any skills, resources, etc, you can offer (eg music, storytelling, poetry, cooking, First Aid, a support vehicle, etc)?
- Any medical conditions or anything else I need to know?
- Availability for a pilgrim meet-up/training walk over Easter (probably around Avebury):
- Availability in June 2020 (the walk is likely to take place from Sun 7 June-Sun 21 June)
NB the walk is taken under your own risk. If your application is accepted, you will be asked to sign a disclaimer accepting full responsibility for your own well-being. All participants will have an informal shared duty of care, but nobody will be liable for prosecution in the unlikely event of an injury etc.
Please email your pilgrim application to email@example.com (Put ‘King Arthur Way Pilgrim Application’ in subject title. Attach as Word doc, but also copy and paste application into body of email).
Deadline for applications: 21 March 2020. Numbers will be limited to no more than 15.