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28 October 2014

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Arthur's Way: between two Camelots
Arthur's Way walkers
Garry Bourne, Julian Dawson, Graham Barley inside the grounds of Tintagel Castle.
Camelot, the famed citadel of King Arthur and his Round Table is the inspiration for a new long distance walk traversing Somerset , Devon and Cornwall.

Arthur's Way is a new link between two legendary Arthurian sites.
Jo Bishop's walk around Devon's boundaries

More Devon walks
Arthur's Way website

Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Breast cancer information

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King Arthur is one of the most famous characters in British mythology.

With its spectacular location on one of England's most dramatic coastlines, Tintagel is one of the most awe-inspiring and romantic spots in Britain.

Tintagel is perhaps the most familiar of all the sites associated with Arthur and has long held claim to be the site of Camelot.

Local tradition, founded largely on the writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th Century, claims this is the birthplace of King Arthur.

Cadbury Castle has been associated with Arthur since at least the 16th Century, when the distinguished antiquarian John Leland described it in his account of ancient British history.

Leland suggested that Cadbury is the site of Camelot, the famed citadel of Arthur where the Round Table was housed and from where the Fellowship of Knights rode forth in search of adventure.

A plethora of local legends support the Arthurian connection.

Whether the association of Cadbury is a genuine one has been hotly disputed for a number of years.
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Three Westcountry walkers have charted a new long distance footpath uniting two legendary Arthurian sites of Camelot - Cadbury Castle in Somerset and Tintagel Castle in Cornwall.

In true Arthurian style the three adventurers set out from Cadbury Castle in March 2004 to establish a new cross-country route all the way to Tintagel Castle.

Graham Barley, former custodian of Sherborne Castle and a keen long distance walker, couldn’t resist the romantic notion of uniting the two Camelots.

So along with his walking mates Garry Bourne and Julian Dawson, Graham set about devising a cross-country route called Arthur’s Way.

The walk, which started on Saturday 6th March, is raising funds for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and local cancer care units.

Under a medieval arch at Tintagel Castle
Under a medieval arch at Tintagel Castle
For eight days they competed against the elements, contours and sometimes-hostile countryside in their quest.

They started the walk by tracing the Leland Trail from Cadbury Castle through Montacute, past St Michaele's Hill and over the top of Ham Hill Country Park.

Here they set about charting a new long distance footpath all the way to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall.

They found themselves passing over the remarkable Blackdown Hills, following the tranquil Culm Valley that led them on to the Great Western Canal through Tiverton and down the Exe Valley Way to Bickleigh.

From there they headed directly west passing just north of Crediton where they skirted between the foothills of Dartmoor on their left and Exmoor on their right.

In no time the spiky crags of Bodmin Moor replaced the high Tors of Dartmoor to the south and straight ahead the guys caught their first site of the sea and the West Coast horizon.

Sacred dip at St Nectan's Glen
Taking a sacred dip at St Nectan's Glen.
They entered the mystical rainforest underworld of St Nectan's Glen in high spirits.

Here they stripped off and 'enjoyed' an invigorating precursory celebration dip beneath the cascading 60ft ice cool waterfall of the Glen.

They continued towards the rugged Cornish coastline skirting north east of Tinatgel town where they joined the cliff edge coastal path that led them to the legendary site of Tintagel Castle.

Clinging to the rugged Cornish coastline Tintagel is inexorably linked to Cadbury through the heroic legends of King Arthur and his fabled castle of Camelot.

The trio were prompted to organise the walk after seeing a new compass marker placed at the summit of Cadbury Castle to celebrate the millennium.

Engraved arrows on the marker point towards several ancient sites including Glastonbury, Avebury and Stonehenge.

A signpost pointing in the direction of Tintagel suggests the ancient Cornish castle is 108 miles away as the crow flies.

In reality they covered around 130 miles during their week long walk.

Tintagel Castle
Tintagel has long held claim to be the site of Camelot.

The team will soon publish a daily diary of the walk with notes, directions and pictures.

"We have long term ambitions to get the route listed as an official long distance walk," said Graham.

"We recorded our notes very accurately and we may publish an Arthur's Way pamphlet at some point in the future."

So far the guys have raised around £1,500 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the Yeovil Cancer Unit and they hope the final count will reach at least £2,000.

Julian himself underwent successful surgery for breast cancer two years ago. Often in the case of men it's discovered far too late for successful treatment.

By doing the walk Julian hopes more people will become aware that breast cancer can affect both men and woman and in all cases early diagnosis is a paramount lifesaver.

For more details of the charity walk visit the Arthur's Way website.

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