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A Memorable PlaceA fearless trip up the...


A Memorable Place

A fearless trip up the Glastonbury Tor

By Elena Latham Murphy

Our family traveled to England for a spring vacation in 1999. My husband, Thomas, and our younger daughter, Meghan, were not that excited about traipsing around seeing "old churches" and "boring royal stuff." But my older daughter, Carrie, had long been fascinated by tales of the ancient druids, standing stone circles, pre-Christian-era warriors and burial mounds.

Carrie has been a voracious reader since age 5. Her beginner reading tastes ran the normal gamut, but by the second grade she was reading at an eighth-grade level on a variety of subjects that were not typical for her age.

She was quite a self-assured little girl, but there was one area of concern. Carrie was afraid of heights. High stairs, glass-enclosed escalators or elevators, water slides -- all made her turn white with anxiety.

The trip to England promised many opportunities, but the one of greatest interest to Carrie was a trip to Glastonbury Tor, an ancient burial mound where Joseph of Arimathea is said to have buried the Holy Grail. The tor was 500 feet high and topped with a 15th-century tower. The summit could be reached only by a narrow track hewn into the turf. There were no handrails.

We arrived in Glastonbury on a sunny day. Our guide explained that we could walk up the tor at our leisure. I opted to go with Carrie, but could not complete the climb. She, with her fear of heights, went to the top in record time. I observed her from below. Her bright red sweater was visible as she meandered around taking in the surrounding countryside and exploring the tower at the top.

When she came down, we walked through the picturesque village. We saw the shell of the cathedral that remained and made some brass rubbings from images of ancient rulers. We drank from a well that is supposed to give strength to women because of its high iron content. We also saw the spot where the legendary King Arthur was purported to have left the Holy Grail.

On the bus back to our lodgings, Carrie told me that it had been the best day of her life. She had conquered her fear of heights. For her, it was another step to maturity in the most magical place that we have visited.

Watching my then-13-year-old daughter conquer her fear changed my own perception of what can be accomplished with will and determination.

Elena Latham Murphy lives in Baltimore.

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Readers Recommend: Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (Photos are welcome.)

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