One early October morn I watch a sunrise just south of the Tor, and, by virtue of solar light, a silhouette of a mythical horizon comes into view. The few soft clouds in the sky are tinged with a beautiful rose hue. An Avalon mist floats over the Somerset levels, the summer lands. I see this marvelous vision unfold from the bottom of Wearyall Hill. Where on earth, one might wonder, am I? Ah, I’m here, in southern England, Somerset county, near the village of Glastonbury, at the Healing Waters Retreat Center.
We’ve learned, in our few travels, that it is important to find beautiful and healthy accommodation when on a journey, taking into account both the foods available and a peaceful and clean environment. We chose Healing Waters Retreat Center for our stay in Glastonbury. It provides excellent accommodation as a bed and breakfast and offers even more: immediate access to lovely walking areas, such as Wearyall Hill, the banks of the river Brue, and the Glastonbury Tor, or “hill,” wearing the ruins of St. Michael’s church on its crown. Travel brings new interactions, such as ours with new friends Bene and Simone from Switzerland, Graham from York and Ikuyo from Japan who had come to train as an organic foods chef, all guests who chose Healing Waters for its alignment with healthy living. Many come to Healing Waters for alternative and complementary therapies, such as massage, craniosacral therapy, color therapy, jacuzzi spa, whirlpool bath, reflexology, facial massage, detox footspa and sound bathing. Health professionals and workshop leaders rent the facilities at Healing Waters for group retreats or therapy training as it accommodates small groups.
Healing Waters is also committed to ecology and sustainability. Its hot water is solar heated, light bulbs are low energy use, and it offers as much organic breakfast food as possible. There is a full kitchen available for additional rental for lunches or dinners. There is a vegetable juicer and a hand blender for smoothies and soups. Healing Waters also uses environmentally safe cleaning products, recycles wastes and serves filtered drinking water direct from the tap. Juliet Yelverton, the founder and director of Healing Waters, not only is dedicated to living ecologically but buys as many fairly traded products as she can obtain for the retreat center. To support those who may have allergies, the center can provide bedding made of natural fibers, with the exception of pillows, which may be made of hollow fibers.
It takes less than 10 minutes to walk to the center of Glastonbury, yet we are away from the noise and bustle of town. Glastonbury itself has several vegetarian cafes as well as numerous restaurants, including La Lune, which offers locally grown organic produce, dairy products and chicken; Hundred Monkeys, with delicious traditional foods; and an Indian and an Italian restaurant, to mention just a few more. Then in the town center is a small Wholefoods health store with organic produce, prepared and bulk foods, supplements, and health and beauty products. During our first morning exercise walk up Wearyall Hill to get a view of old Glastonbury with its Abbey Monastery ruins, we passed the well-known thorn, or hawthorne berry, tree. We met several local villagers walking their dogs and learned a bit more about the area: the Brue River walk, the village of Street visible a mile away, founded by Quakers, and some of the local history.
Nearby, not more than six miles away, is the city of Wells, the second smallest official “city” in England, with about 8,000 people—but it’s really a centuries-old village. It is famous mostly for its cathedral, which is an architectural and artistic gem. The village has an intact medieval area where a walk down the cobblestone street depicts life six hundred years ago. A local man told us this area is often filmed for movies, including one in the “Harry Potter” series. Wells has a health food store called Good Earth, complete with a natural foods eatery. Not 25 miles away is the restored Georgian city of Bath where the Roman natural hot spring “baths” were found.
So, if you stay at Healing Waters you have all this and much more in your immediate surroundings. The Center itself offers a beautiful two-level wooden deck with tables and recliner chairs overlooking a six-acre certified organic field adjacent to the house, land ready for farming or gardening, and it is a wonderful place for peaceful walks or doing such things as morning tai chi. Sitting on the wooden deck at the back of the house, you may become immersed in an expansive peacefulness and see visions of the days of King Arthur. Throughout the countryside as far as the eye can see are hedgerows, tree lines, canals made by monks in the 10th century, and tidy farms that have been in the same family for hundreds of years, all defining the lush, green landscape.
– Scott Miners