Somerset Beano, Sun 9th - Wed 12th May 2021
Myths, legends and wildlife in the fabled Isle of Avalon
After a few years’ break we’re heading back to the rural delights of Somerset, based at a new venue that we think you’re going to love.
This area is the mystical ‘Isle of Avalon’, steeped in myth and legend. The flat expanse of the Levels is punctuated by domed hills looking for all the world like islands in the sea – which, a few millennia ago, they were. Was King Arthur’s Camelot here? Did Jesus really travel here as a young man, in the company of Joseph of Arimathaea? Do beams of energy radiate out from Glastonbury Tor along ancient ley lines (including one that passes through the place where we stay)? Do 200,000 people really descend on a muddy cattle farm near Pilton every June for a music festival? We don’t know, but we know you’ll find locals willing to persuade you it’s all true.
This is a lovely part of the country to explore by bike, with flat meadows crossed by quiet lanes. The occasional hill climb nearly always rewards you with a view at the top.
To the north our rides take us around the iconic Glastonbury Tor and through the tiny cathedral city of Wells, with an optional detour onto the slopes of the Mendip Hills.
To the south we ride through a landscape of moors and commons, rivers and channels, ruined abbeys and historic market towns.
To the west we cycle through the Avalon marshes, along an old railway line through a nature reserve and along twisting lanes, spotting the remains of lake villages and trackways that date back thousands of years. The Levels are rich in wildflowers, amphibians and wildfowl: we may spot bitterns, hobbies, kingfishers and more – not forgetting the famous bell-ringing swans of Wells!
Our base is the Earthspirit Centre, tucked between two nature reserves on the edge of the Somerset Levels, just a few miles from the legend-soaked town of Glastonbury. The holder of a Green Tourism “Gold” award, Earthspirit is a sustainably-run centre for groups of all sorts, providing comfortable accommodation in an assortment of converted farm buildings around a central oak-timbered hall. In the spring evenings you can relax in the gardens or take a stroll through the meadows up to the ancient hill fort.
This is a weekday Beano: we arrive for tea on Sunday afternoon and leave after tea and cakes at the end of the final ride on Wednesday afternoon. In between we have three day rides, exploring the area by bike and returning to the Earthspirit Centre at the end of each ride.
The rides are mainly on-road, with a few short sections on gravelled cyclepaths and bridleways. Daily distance is 30-40 miles, though we always build in detours and short cuts so you can make your ride longer or shorter. Some of the detours feature more offroad exploration along some of the “Droves”, ancient tracks that criss-cross the Levels.
Sunday 9 – Wednesday 12 June 2021
Arrive Sunday evening. 3 night stay; 3 days of cycling; depart Wednesday afternoon.
Daily distances from 30 to 60+ miles (50-100km) at your own pace. Fairly easy, but some hills. Mainly on quiet country lanes with some optional easy offroad sections.
Single room (ensuite) £465
Single room, ensuite shower/bathroom
Sharing a twin room (ensuite) £395
Ensuite shower room/bathroom. If you'retravelling solo but prepared to share a room let us know and we'll charge you the shared room rate even if you get a room to yourself.
Single room (shared bathroom) £415
Single room, shared bathroom facilities
Sharing a twin room (shared bathroom) £345
Per person in a twin bed room; shared bathroom facilities. If you're travelling solo but prepared to share a room let us know and we'll charge you the shared room rate even if you get a room to yourself.
Bring your own tent!
Prices are per person and include dinner, breakfast, and tea and cakes after the ride. They don’t include bike hire (most Beanoers bring their own bikes) or the cost of lunch/coffee stops during the rides.