Tag Archives: Somerset Stranglers

Glastonbury Tor Ultrabeast might be Queen Hamster

Glastonbury Tor visitors are advised to keep peanuts double wrappedFor many years scientists have been mystified by the all-male population of Somerset Stranglers – the breed of hamsters native to Glastonbury Tor. The big question has always been how do they reproduce?

Religious teaching has been that they engage in virgin birth, explaining why so many hamsters are depicted in the stained glass windows of churches in Glastonbury.

Historically the scientific community has not challenged this idea out of respect for the hamster’s right to privacy. Local byelaws make it illegal to film these adorable animals during what might or might not be their mating season.

But the mystery of how Somerset Stranglers reproduce may have finally been answered thanks to recent coppicing of the wooded area on the dangerous north face of the Tor.

Police have received a higher than normal number of reports of a giant creature. Nervous villagers have responded in the traditional way by screaming “Ultrabeast!” as they run home, lock their front door and hide behind the sofa. But a new generation of visitors to Glastonbury have been able to give police a description.

Chief Inspector Wilkinson of the Glastonbury constabulary explains: “Over the last week we have received dozens of calls from ramblers warning of an unexplained creature that roams Glastonbury Tor. Estimates put it at somewhere around twelve feet tall, and bright white in colour. But the clue that makes us think it might be a Somerset Strangler is that so many independent witnesses have described it as having adorably weak forearms. There is only one creature I know of matching that description.”

Wilkinson continues: “The guys in forensics think it may be a rare queen hamster that used to live in the tunnels beneath Glastonbury Tor, and was forced from its natural habitat when the prisoners at St Michael’s Prison dug their escape tunnel and delved too deep. It may now have gone to dwell in the woods on the north face of the Tor, and the coppicing has left it without a home.”

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor should be reassured that there have been no reports of the Ultrabeast attacking humans so it is probably perfectly safe to visit the area. However, if you take a picnic onto the tor you should keep any bags of peanuts double wrapped as they cause aggressive behaviour in male Somerset Stranglers and this could be a hideous problem when scaled up to the proportions of a queen hamster.

Glastonbury Tor ready to receive visitors again after returning from Olympics opening ceremony

Brisk sales of cat muzzles resume as Glastonbury Tor returns from London Olympics opening ceremonyYesterday was a busy day for Titania Bonham-Smythe and her colleagues at the National Trust gift shop at the base of Glastonbury Tor, following a week that saw the sale of the smallest number of cat muzzles since records began.

“It was obviously a great honour for the tor to feature so prominently in the Olympics opening ceremony in London” explained Titania “but that has caused very low visitor numbers. Now the tor has been re-seated we’ve been overwhelmed with little jobs preparing for the deluge of visitors today”.

The journey back from London along the M4 motorway was not without difficulty for Glastonbury Tor. The rocket transporters used to transport the mountain that were on loan from the aeronautics department of the Mystical University of Glastonbury were never designed to cover such huge distances – normally the furthest they would take their rocket payload would be from the university buildings in the heart of Glastonbury to the launch area on the Summerland Meadows just a few miles away. Something as simple as a puncture in one of the mammoth tyres on the transporter could cause hours of delay, with resulting tailbacks infuriating motorists.

But Bonham-Smythe is confident that visitors will enjoy a fabulous mystical day out at Glastonbury Tor today, unaware of the fervent behind-the-scenes activity; “Patricia Barnyard from the Glastonbury Dogwalker’s Trust has been in to oil the wheels of the dog trolleys, and the gentlemen from the GIPN (the Geneva Institute of Protuberance Nomenclature) have signed off the tor at 190 metres tall, meaning that it continues to qualify for mountain status.”

And probably the best news of all for nature lovers is that now it’s back from London, many Somerset Stranglers have been sighted emerging from their nests on Glastonbury Tor. Although July is traditionally the nesting period for hamsters worries had been building that the trip to London would cause a mass exodus. Fortunately a special grant of 500kg of cotton wool from the Olympic organising committee ensured that the hamsters were safely protected in their nests.

Wombles banned from Glastonbury Tor

The sort of violent confrontation between a drug-fuelled Womble and a Somerset Strangler that authorities are trying to avoidConcern has been mounting over The Wombles’ forthcoming appearance at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival.

But it’s not just Michael Eavis worrying about the weird juxtaposition of Remember You’re A Womble blasting out to festival goers more atuned to Beyoncé and U2.

Following the recent EU warning issued to the French government about their flagrant disregard for wild Alsace hamsters, officials have defiantly stepped in to protect the wild hamsters that roam over Glastonbury Tor – known locally as Somerset Stranglers – they are banning supergroup The Wombles entry to this ancient mountain.

Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor offered an explanation:

“The ecosystem on Glastonbury Tor is very delicate.  For hundreds of years these delightful but vicious wild hamsters have made their burrows on Glastonbury Tor and it is important that we demonstrate to the European Union our active support of rare species.  We really don’t want to get caught up in the French fiasco where they seem to show a heartless disregard for the Great Hamsters of Alsace.”

“Our worry is that The Wombles are renowned for their drug-fuelled rampages.  While on stage they are the very image of sobriety and family-friendliness – but the moment they get off stage it’s a different story.  Can you imagine what it would be like if they were allowed onto Glastonbury Tor in that state?  It’s anyone’s guess what would happen if one of the many Somerset Stranglers, on their daily trek to forage for cotton wool, were to be confronted by a six foot tall wild-eyed rodent, high on drugs and hell-bent on litter-picking – the last thing we want is a pitched battle between Wombles and hamsters.  It would be Mods and Rockers all over again.”

What is under Glastonbury Tor?

What is under Glastonbury Tor?This seemingly simple question has mystified people for over a hundred years – what is beneath Glastonbury Tor?

The simple answer is that it depends on just how far down you want to go.

The surface of Glastonbury Tor is covered mainly by grass, with the exception of the paved walkway that was installed by King Arthur, and the half acre test area of garlic and vines that has been planted by Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers as part of their tor takeover plans.

But below this seemingly prosaic surface is where it gets interesting!

Between 0 and 15cm below the surface – geologists call this the Strangularis Plateau

On Glastonbury Tor the upper topsoil layer is riddled with wild hamster burrows since they went rampant in the 1970’s. This breed known locally as Somerset Stranglers have such contradictory qualities that the National Trust has consistently been unable to take the decisive action of a cull. This isn’t helped by the large number of local protest groups, some in favour of reducing the hamster population, and some – such as the Strangler Preservation Society – who aggressively defend hamster rights.

Although the burrows are too small for a human foot to get trapped in, they are a risk to dog paws, which is one of the reasons for the hundreds of Keep Off The Grass signs on Glastonbury Tor.

Between 15cm and 30cm below the surface – geologists call this the Mud Layer

Although they have very sharp claws for fighting, the hamsters that are native to Glastonbury Tor have adorably weak forearms and can not dig very deep. This means the lower area of topsoil is undisturbed, and is mainly composed of spoilings from the tunnel excavations at the now disused St. Michael’s Prison.

Between 30cm and 100cm below the surface – geologists call this the Paving Layer

The recent geophysics scan commissioned by Glastonbury Archaeology Society revealed that King Arthur and his merry men actually paved the whole of Glastonbury Tor in ancient times but local residents gradually took and used these slabs to make patios in their back gardens.

Between 100cm and 200cm below the surface – geologists call this the 42 Layer

The biggest 42 in the world is believed to be below the surface of Glastonbury Tor, revealed by two consecutive geophysics scans. It is formed from protrusions of iron from the core of Glastonbury Tor.

Between 200cm and the centre of the earth

The majority of the majestic mount that people see when they visit Glastonbury is made of solid iron – a huge geological anomaly that weighs as much as the moon, but is much more compact and convenient. This explains why metal detectors do not work properly within a two mile radius of Glastonbury Tor.

Tunnels beneath Glastonbury Tor

Legend has it that Glastonbury Tor is riddled with a hidden labyrinth of tunnels – a maze haunted by the ghosts of untold numbers of monks and druids who got lost attempting to find their way from the tor to Glastonbury Abbey, or the Glastonbury Druidic Headquarters. No evidence has ever been found of these tunnels. The only tunnel known to exist was that created by prisoners at St. Michael’s Prison that was cut short just before reaching Castle Cary train station.

Are dogs allowed at Glastonbury Tor?

The most common question that people ask when they are considering a visit to Glastonbury Tor is “are dogs allowed?”

Surprisingly, it’s not just dog owners who ask this question, but also owners of other pets who are considering a visit and want to know if they will be welcomed.

The answer is simple – under certain conditions, most breeds of dog are welcome to visit the tor, and subject to passing a simple evaluation test may also be able to join the queue to use one of the many dog trolleys that are provided for pets that may otherwise struggle to make it all the way to the top.

There is a very simple weeding-out process that enables the quality of animal visitors to be kept high, and make sure everyone enjoys the view from the top of the tor without ruining it for anyone else. Your pet just has to pass the following simple tests in order to be awarded a yellow wrist-band that allows them entry to the tor for up to a week:

  1. Is this pet visiting the tor of its own free will? Most animals appear bouncy and happy at the prospect of scaling Glastonbury Tor, but any animal that looks sullen, grumpy, or pulls in the wrong direction on its lead may be referred to the resident animal psychologist for evaluation before being allowed onto the tor. The psychologist’s decision is final, although you do have the right to appeal to the Glastonbury Vets Ombudsman.
  2. Is this a Shih-Tzu that has been disguised as a more butch breed of dog? Any attempt to pass a Shih-Tzu off as anything other than a cat could cause it to be banned from the tor for up to six weeks.
  3. Is this a Somerset Strangler that is being repatriated by someone who did not realise what bad pets they make? There are official channels for repatriation. Sneaking one of these potentially deadly hamsters through the Nothing To Declare channel could result in the severest of penalties.

Notes for human visitors

Human visitors should also note – now that Glastonbury Tor has achieved mountain status you should bring plenty of provisions so that if the weather changes unexpectedly at this high altitude you won’t get caught out. There are, after all, few more embarrassing things than having the air sea rescue services called out, when the simple measure of bringing a few vital supplies could have seen you safely returning to basecamp under your own steam.

There is a simple mnemonic – KITES. Visitors to the tor learn about this in the information area at the gift shop:

K – Kendal Mint Cake – a standard kilogram bar should suffice on a day trip. Remember to bring some for every member of your party, including pets.

I – Igloo construction skills – if the weather should change at high altitude it is always worth knowing how to fashion a rudimentary igloo from the permanent icecap on Glastonbury Tor

T – a Tent or bivouac – in case the weather turns nasty. Remember there are no toilet facilities for a thirty mile radius around Glastonbury Tor so you should consider bringing a porta-loo.

E – Elvish principles – think back to the last Lord Of The Rings film you saw – which race was always best equipped to fend for themselves when out in the wilderness? The Elves – that’s who. All you need to do is think about how one of the elves would fend for themself in a tricky situation. Obviously we are referring to one of the principal characters, not one of the red-shirted CGI cannon-fodder who have their head sliced off by an Uruk-Hai in the siege of Gondor.

S – Swiss Army Knife – these are always useful, although it will need to be surrendered if you want to visit the toast-making display at St. Michael’s Tower.

Glastonbury supersun threatens to incinerate visitors

Glastonbury supersunSunwatchers on Glastonbury Tor in Somerset were rewarded with the rare supersun phenomena today, only weeks after the recent supermoon. Scientists are wondering if there is a connection.

Glastonbury supersuns occur when the earth passes unusually close to the sun on its elliptical axis. Because the tor is the highest geographical feature in South West England it is the best chance many people have of getting a really good look at the sun.

Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor offered visitors some sound words of advice; “The sun came very close today – if felt like you could reach out and touch it. But on this special day visitors need to be very wary. Some people actually started to sunbathe, but luckily we stopped them in time. It’s not just the intense rays from the sun that can cause your skin to wrinkle up and start fizzling, but the heat makes the hamster burrows uncomfortably hot, so you find a lot of the Somerset Stranglers come to the surface, and you know how territorial they are – they become very frisky.”

Henge continued; “Anyone venturing onto the tor on a supersun day should make sure they have plenty of aluminium foil and calamine lotion. If you forget to bring some, or run out, it is available in the gift shop. The next supersun will be in 5 years.”

Inquest into death of Councillor Watkins reaches open verdict

Following the mysterious death of Councillor Watkins by being impaled on a realistic scale model of Glastonbury Tor in February, an inquest has reached an open verdict.  This has shocked many people, not least Chief Inspector Wilkinson who was convinced of foul play.

The inquest heard details about the events that resulted in Councillor Watkins’ untimely demise, and saw the instruction leaflet that the Chief Inspector believed had been altered to turn the mystical model into an instrument of death.

But in the absence of any other solid evidence, the instructions were not deemed to be sufficient evidence of a crime, and lacking a perpetrator, the police investigation brought forth no useful evidence and fizzled out.

Outside the court Chief Inspector Wilkinson made a statement to the press; “In our work the Glastonbury constabulary regularly have to confront the unpleasant side of life.  Only last week we had to deal with a savage attack on some shoppers by a pack of Somerset Stranglers that had made their way onto Glastonbury High Street in search of cotton wool for their nests.  But the death of Councillor Watkins has shocked everyone on the force.  Forensics tell me that when the scale model of St. Michael’s Tower impaled Councillor Watkins it was travelling at such a speed that they still haven’t found all his teeth.  But the thing is, despite the initial clue of the amended instructions, we haven’t been able to gather any other substantive evidence.  There was a noticeable closing of ranks in both Town Council A and Town Council B.”

The Chief Inspector continued; “The only good that’s come of this is that we have been able to return the model of Glastonbury Tor to Watkins’ widow and she now has the correct version of the instructions.  This means she is unlikely to type in the same deadly combination of dates that cause the model to become dangerous, so she should enjoy many years of enjoyment from it.”

Don’t be tempted by the hamsters at Glastonbury Tor say vets

A Somerset Strangler on Glastonbury TorLocal vets have advised visitors to stop stuffing their pockets with the hamsters that are swarming over Glastonbury Tor this year.

The huge population of hamsters, known by local breeders as Somerset Stranglers because of the tendency of females to kill their babies when food runs out, has swelled since they were granted protected species status in 1974.

A Somerset Strangler about to biteHamster experts say that Somerset Stranglers were introduced to the area by Dutch tulip dealers in the seventeenth century when they found them to be a breed that could be trusted to guard valuable tulip bulbs.  Because they don’t have any natural predators on Glastonbury Tor they have bred like wildfire and it was only the Somerset potato famine of 1924 that caused their numbers to dwindle.

A Somerset Strangler biting the hand of a childTitania Bonham-Smythe, the Chief Gatekeeper at Glastonbury Tor explains; “When visitors walk up Glastonbury Tor and see the hamsters frolicking on the grass it is very tempting to put a couple in their pockets.  But people need to remember that these are not the same friendly hamsters you find in a pet shop.  They live in the wild and are not tame.  They are ruthless scavengers that will quickly become savage with any human that denies them food or cotton wool for their nest.”

A leaflet is available at the National Trust gift shop explaining the dangers of Somerset Stranglers.