On the day that the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association cancelled their annual event because of rising petrol prices, the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union are in rather more defiant mood, meaning that rivalry between the two groups has never been more intense.
Regular visitors to Glastonbury Tor will be accustomed to the sight of Glastonbury Pilgrims Union members making their daily barefoot pilgrimage to the top of the tor, nimbly dodging the Keep Off The Grass and Keep Off The Path signs.
Speaking on behalf of the union, Chief Stairmaster Paul Hompkins explained; “Our organisation was the first to introduce daily pilgrimages, while the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association struggle to do it once a year. We were the first to equip each of our members with satellite tracking and a 10kg bar of Kendal Mint Cake on every trip. And I’m sure everyone remembers our campaign “Lead Free In Seventy Three” – we moved over entirely to lead-free petrol almost forty years ago!”
Hompkins continued; “But our big innovation came when we converted to barefoot pilgrimming in the early nineties – since then we haven’t looked back. It means our petrol consumption is a fraction of that used by organisations that still insist on motorised pilgrimages. Of course some of our members get a bit jealous when the Glastonbury Pilgrimage Association members overtake them on their motorbikes, but now with petrol going above £1.35 a litre we can expect our strategy to cement our position at the top of the pilgrim league.”
Famous for their weekly barefoot pilgrimage to the top of Glastonbury Tor, the Pilgrims Union are not so well known for compromising on matters of principle. But this afternoon for the first time since late January when they began their boycott, penitent pilgrim Anders McCadmium allowed himself to be airlifted to safety by the Air Sea Rescue Service, during treacherous weather on the tor.
Chief Stairmaster Paul Hompkins later briefed the press on the events that led to this embarrassing event; “I was elected head of the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union in 1976 on the pledge that we would build on the ethos of our brotherhood – our mystical devotion to the earth mother, our humble life of sanctity and contrition. But we also hold personal safety very dear, and when pilgrims make their daily journey to the top of the tor, I insist that in their knapsack full of union paraphernalia they include the basics of life preservation – a tinfoil cape, distress flare and 10kg bar of Kendal Mint Cake.”
Hompkins continued; “Today Anders McCadmium found himself about fifty yards from the top of the tor, caught in the most awful rain storm. It was so bad that he was forced to take shelter in a small dip that provided little in the way of relief. It really was a matter of life and death. He was forced to set off his distress flare which immediately summoned the Air Sea Rescue Service. Fortunately Pilot Officer Graham Gillespie and his crew were able to rescue Mr. McCadmium, and take him to our place of safety, the Pixie Gardens Tea Room in the heart of Glastonbury town. Here he was treated with a traditional infusion of lentil tea, and he seems to be much better.”
Anders McCadmium is expected to make a full recovery once the Kendal Mint Cake has passed through his system.
A public outcry has followed the recent announcement that Glastonbury Pilgrims Union has donated thirty dog trolleys to enable people to enjoy the tor with their dogs. These trolleys were necessary because the tor has grown by 30 metres in the last decade which meant that many dogs were no longer able to get to the top under their own steam.
This week three hundred owners of other pets signed a petition that was handed in to the Lord Mayor of Glastonbury the Rt Hon Lawrence McKnight, that claimed equal rights to trolleys for all pets.
In a partial step-down the Pilgrims Union have agreed that if trolleys are not being used by dogs then other pets may use them. However it is not good news for all pets. Very small animals may be expected to double up and share with others in order to avoid wasting space. So for example, if two people arrive with chinchillas, and there is a spaniel sized trolley, they would be expected to share. There are no plans to force animals from entirely different species to share trolleys, but many people think this will be hard to enforce. The rule of thumb is that if a pet is likely to eat or attack another animal that it shares a trolley with, then it should wear a muzzle.
Fortunately muzzles for a wide range of species are available in the National Trust gift shop if pet owners arrive without one.
Patricia Barnyard of the Glastonbury Dogwalker’s Trust remains upbeat; “Obviously dogs take priority. They are the best sort of pet, and this new ruling on trolleys accepts that fact. It means that dogs are never expected to share a trolley. They are always welcome to enjoy their visit to the tor, although there have been occasions when a queue of beagles has developed. On the other hand, if you want to bring a hamster or a cat for a walk on the tor it is possible that they will be able to use the trolleys too, and visitors will find a good selection of cat muzzles in the shop, on the shelf below the Hobgoblin Marmalade.”
Because Glastonbury Tor grew by 30 metres since 2001, many dog owners have expressed concern about the steep slope their pets must now endure when climbing from the National Trust gift shop at the base to St. Michael’s Tower at the top of the tor.
The Glastonbury Pilgrims Union has stepped in and donated thirty dog trolleys of various sizes that will allow people to still enjoy the tor with their pets, but without tiring them excessively.
Patricia Barnyard of the Glastonbury Dogwalker’s Trust is particularly happy; “This is a typically kind and generous gesture by the Pilgrims Union. The tor has become very steep lately and many dogs struggle to make it all the way to the top. With these trolleys dogs of all kinds can now be led by their owners to the top where they can enjoy the view with everyone else. It is worth noting that the trolleys are available on a first come first served basis, and they are mostly in smaller sizes. You may find a queue if you bring an Alsatian or Doberman for a walk on the tor. There is currently only one trolley that can transport a Great Dane in comfort.”