Ancient Wisdom and Sacred Places in the UK

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Motorhoming should be more than just travelling to a destination, setting up, and then hunkering down to watch TV all evening.

Each journey – whether epic road trip, pilgrimage, or just a short drive to somewhere more local to you – can tap into the ancient wisdom of the elders, making your adventures richer and deeply meaningful.

Humans have been travelling for millennia. And the knowledge we’ve acquired in that time has been shared in stories and symbolism, passed down from generation to generation.

On this page we’ll explore some of the ways this ancient wisdom can be accessed on your journeys. And why we believe it is still needed today, perhaps more than ever.

sunrise at Stonehenge
Image: Ankit Sood

Carriers of ancient wisdom – nomads, druids, gypsies, and mystics

It seems to be in our blood to move around. Hobo Gav has moved house over 15 times, so it’s certainly in his. It was inevitable that he’d end up in a motorhome. Part of Trudi’s bloodline is from European gypsies according to family lore.

We suppose that tribal movements and meetings was how the wisdom of the elders spread across the globe, just like a virus.

The travellers of old – nomadic tribes, travelling gypsies, and wandering mystics – would navigate via the stars, visible markers set on hilltops or ancient routes laid down by those who had gone before them.

It is our belief that we are in desperate need of a ‘guiding principle’ that can help us develop a healthy value system and at the same time reconnect us to nature and each other.

Something more fundamental needs to emerge from the ashes of consumerism, something that reconnects us to a wisdom that is beyond the dogma of organised religion.

Do we dare hand back all that we’ve been told, lay ourselves bare, and open up to a direct experience of pure wisdom? Or will we forever cling to what we’ve been conditioned to believe?

That’s part of the challenge of course, stripping away what’s no longer truly yours.

Van Lifers – the new carriers of old knowledge?

When you leave home and head off to someplace new, you’re entering unknown territory. You leave the comfort of the known world behind and enter a huge in-between space before you reach your destination. The in-between space is the most important bit.

We call it the learning zone. It’s where ancient wisdom can awaken in your brain, like finding a lost remnant of parchment paper revealing the whereabouts of hidden treasure in the desert.

Question: How do you deal with the challenge of the van breaking down, or getting lost, or finding yourself in an altercation over a parking space?

Answer: Trust that the solution is within you, if you are still enough to hear it.

In ‘The Hero’s Journey in a Motorhome‘ we talked about getting out of our comfort zone. Putting aside what we know, and opening up to new experiences. Van life – and every journey you make – gives you a chance to reignite the dormant cells of ancient wisdom that have been sleeping for too long.

Life makes sure that, at certain points, we will have opportunities to wake up. And when we do, it’s then our job to pass on this wisdom.

Unfortunately, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Most people stumble upon the truth, get back up, dust themselves down…and carry on as if nothing happened.”

Old van – ancient wisdom

During our road trip on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales we found this lovely book…

Beautifully written and filled with exquisite photographs and stories about the ancient routes across the Welsh hills and valleys…

Rhinogydd - ancient routes and old roads in Wales

It’s a book that always goes with us whenever we head back to our Welsh ancestors’ land.

It could be said that the most ancient thing we take on our travels is the van itself! And our trusty, crumpled maps. Only if we’re genuinely lost do we resort to google maps on our phones. We don’t use or even own a satnav.

We like to believe that our van, Cree will show us the way – tapping into the wisdom of the ancients on these old routes. Far from being just a means to an end, the van becomes a channel through which ancient knowledge is imparted. She just knows.

On our journeys, we take with us a sense of reverence for the elders who travelled these paths before us. The journey itself becomes deeply meaningful and will teach us important things – if we are receptive enough to notice.

Ley lines, labyrinths, and stone circles – symbols of wisdom

Our birth town of Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk, sits on the St. Michael’s Ley Line, which cuts across England from Cornwall to East Anglia. Without even realizing it, we have been traversing this ley line – and visiting many of the places along it – most of our lives.

We are especially drawn to labyrinths and stone circles and we’ll always look out for sacred sites.

RELATED CONTENT: For more info go to Ley Lines, Labyrinths and Stone Circles

In the Peak District, we stumbled upon an ancient Goddess cult and spent some time in wonderful isolation at Arbor Low stone circle. Unlike the more popular stone circles of Avebury and Stonehenge, at Arbor Low you’ll have the place mostly to yourself.

And in Wales, we were delighted to find the ancient huts at South Stack on Anglesey.

What all this points to is that the ancients had a ‘different’ knowledge to the predominant paradigm of today. Science and the ‘age of reason’ have blinded us to a more intuitive wisdom. The ancients seemed to know how to live and work with something beyond themselves.

ancient wisdom in the stone circles
Image: Jonny Gios

The wisdom of the ancient Celts

The poetic philosophy of the late John O’Donohue in his classic book, Anam Cara, draws upon the ancient wisdom of Celtic spirituality. It’s one of Hobo Gav’s favourite books of all time!

anam cara: spiritual wisdom from the celtic world by John O'Donohue

Having travelled much of the Celtic world in our van, we like to think that we are tapping into the beliefs of the old ways.

Just like when looking at a masterpiece, you need a certain state of receptive awareness when travelling on ancient paths and pilgrimages to get the most learning from the experience. Leave the everyday mind set at home!

It requires a willingness to be open to whatever might happen on the journey, favourable or otherwise; a meditative state, if you like.

The road trip becomes a spiritual journey in this way, more than a means to an end. You encounter things along the way that awaken something deep in your soul, something ancient and yet, at the same time, something very present, here and now. You feel as if the ancient wisdom of Mother Earth is being rebirthed in your own DNA.

Van Lifers: nomads at heart

So, what is it that makes us humans want to travel? What drives the desire to jump in the van and get going? Is the need for adventure really programmed into our DNA?

Perhaps we are all nomads at heart. Our genes tell us to move, just like they did for our ancestors across the Savanna. Perhaps it is there that we can hear the eternal echoes. Will they finally reach down deep enough inside to stir our souls back to life?

This is what we’re talking about.


What has your van – and your journeys – taught you so far? We’d love to hear your story as we research material for a forthcoming book. Perhaps it too will become part of folklore, part of ancient wisdom!

Remember to check out our pages on Celtic Spirituality in the British Isles and Ley Lines, Labyrinths and Stone Circles

Grab your copy of our latest ebook: Meeting God in a Motorhome: vanlife pilgrimages to sacred places in the UK

van life pilgrimages: meeting god in a motorhome ebook

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