Getting to Glastonbury
Country lanes and back-roads for connoisseurs
If you have been to Glastonbury before, side-routes can be worth following, to make a change.
First, four routes approaching Glastonbury and, lower down, two interesting long-distance routes from London and the Midlands.
The approaches to Glastonbury
Alternative country route from the A303
6 miles/10km, useful if coming by the A303 from London or Devon.
Leave the A303 on the A372 Langport road at Podimore roundabout. After a few hundred metres, take a country road to the right, signposted Lytes Cary. Follow your nose for some miles through Charlton Mackrell village and, a mile after the village, take a right at the T-junction and an immediate left, signposted Glastonbury. Then take the third road to the right, signposted Butleigh (after 1½ miles/2km). Follow this down through Butleigh, continue for another 2 miles/3.5km, and then turn right to Glastonbury (or keep straight on for Street). This route is pleasant, easier than it sounds, and the quickest route from the A303.
Alternative route from the M5, coming from Wales and the North
10m/16km shorter than the A39 from M5 J23 – country roads across the Somerset Levels.
Leave the M5 at junction 22 (for Highbridge, just after Brent Knoll services). At the roundabout, turn right onto the A38. After a half mile, take the next turning right, signposted to Mark. After two miles, proceed straight over the rather tricky crossroads. Then simply follow signs for Glastonbury, over the Moors and through Burtle, Westhay and Meare. These are all unclassified side-roads, some straight, some winding, and it's a pleasant ride. If you can find your way, it's the fastest from the North.
Alternative route from the M5 and Bristol, along the Old Wells Road
This avoids the A37/A39 from Bristol, a dreadful road. It works for people good at navigation. Best during off-peak hours.
Coming from the M5 northwards or from South Wales, leave the M5 at J18 and enter Bristol on the A4 through the impressive Avon Gorge. After passing under the Clifton Suspension Bridge, follow A38 signs for Taunton. After a mile or two, look out for white local signs to Bishopsworth and follow them - at two junctions you must bear left. Follow this road for some distance through the outskirts of Bristol, following your nose, more or less straight forward - the route follows a millennium-old road. Eventually you come to the edge of Bristol and start climbing up a second-gear switchback. Keep following this old road pretty much straight on across several junctions for miles, through Chew Stoke, past Chew Valley Lake (a good stopping place), straight over the A368 Bath-Weston main road, up a long hill and then over the high Mendip plateau. Keep straight on over several intersections on the Mendip Hills (though you can also turn left and follow signs to Wells). Eventually you will descend down a magical valley into Wells. Continue to Glastonbury from there. Once you know it, this is a good road and generally faster and more pleasant than the main A37 from Bristol.
This follows some pleasant old roads.
Take the A367 out of Bath toward Radstock. After climbing up out of Bath, then going along a plateau, the road drops down again - after a half mile take a right on the B3115 to Timsbury. At a point where the B road turns right to Timsbury, continue straight on toward Paulton. At Paulton junction (tortuous), take a right, then left after 200 yards toward Farrington Gurney. At the T-junction, turn right, then after a half mile turn left onto the A39 and proceed to Wells, then to Glastonbury.
Two long-distance routes
Both of these routes take more time, but they have some history and pleasant aspects if you're in no hurry.
This follows an old drovers' road from Stonehenge to Bruton - no towns at all. This route takes an hour or so longer than the A303.
Take the M3 and then the A303 out of London. At Stonehenge, bear right on the A360 toward Devizes. Just as you leave Shrewton, take a left on the B390 over Salisbury Plain to Chitterne, then Heytesbury. Go right along the A36 for a mile, then take the B3095 to Longbridge Deverill. At Longbridge, take an unclassified road to Maiden Bradley, and then just keep straight on along old lanes to Brewham and Bruton (this passes the Longleat estate, with some nice old trees). Bruton is a nice old ecclesiastical town. Before hitting the centre of Bruton, take a sharp right on the B3081 to Evercreech, continue to the A371 (Bath and West Showground), go right and drive a long mile, then go left, then right, on the A361 signposted Glastonbury. If you're good at navigation, there's also an old drovers' road from Bruton (go into town and right round the one-way system) through Ditcheat to West Pennard and Glastonbury.
The Fosse Way from Leicester
If you're coming from the East Midlands and you're fed up with motorways and have some time, try this.
Leave the M1 from the North at J21, or from Leicester follow the A46 out of town, and hit the B4114 for Narborough and Sharnford. Soon you'll see Fosse Way signs - this was an ancient British, then a Roman trunk route two millennia ago. Just follow the Fosse Way for miles - it's reasonably straight - to Stow-on-the-Wold and Cirencester. Then proceed to Bath on the A433/A46 - alternatively you can weave down on the A419 through Stroud and join the M5. Try not to hit Bath at peak hours. From Bath there are three alternative routes, one of which is above. This is a good trip (with breaks), but a bit long, especially when the roads are crowded.