Pilgrimage – Part 3

Where to go on your Pilgrimage.

You can make your pilgrimage anywhere but there is something special about walking a path that has been well trodden by others. Here are some suggestions for recognised walks that you might like to try.

  • Abbey Trail – Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds to Whitby Abbey, Whitby, 116 miles
  • St Albans Way – Waltham Abbey, Essex to St Alban’s Cathedral, St Albans, 25 miles
  • The Way of St Andrews – Eight Pilgrimage Ways across Scotland each finishing at St Andrews Cathedral.
  • Augustine Camino – St Andrew’s Cathedral, Rochester to The Shrine of St Augustine, Ramsgate, 68 miles
  • St Bega’s Way – St Bee’s Priory on the Cumbrian Coast to the Church of St Bega on the shore of Bassenthwaite Lake, 36 miles

    Pilgrimage - St Bega's Church, Bassenthwaite, Cumbria

    St Bega’s Church, Bassenthwaite

  • Bridlington Priory – Beverley Minster to Bridlington Priory, 37 miles
  • St Birinus Pilgrimage Walk – A circular walk around Wallingford, Oxfordshire, 25 miles
  • The Borders Abbey’s Way – A circular walk passing 4 historic abbeys in Scottish Border towns, 64.5 miles
  • Our Lady Of Caversham Pilgrimage – Windsor to Caversham, 35 miles
  • St Cedd’s Pilgrimage – A figure of eight walk starting and finishing at St Peter’s Church, Southminster, Essex, 22 miles
  • The Cistercian Way – Four routes around Wales linking all of the Cistercian abbeys, 650 miles
  • Cornish Celtic Way – Priory Church, St Germans to St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, 125 miles
  • St Cuthbert’s Way – Melrose Abbey, Melrose, Scotland to Lindesfarne, Northumberland 62.5 miles
  • St Edmund Way – Manningtree, Essex to Brandon, Norfolk, 79 miles
  • Essex Priory Way – Point Clear to St Botolph’s Priory, Colchester, 20 miles

    St Botolphs Priory, Colchester

    St Botolphs Priory, Colchester

  • The John Bunyan Trail – A circular walk from Bedford in memory of the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, 86 miles
  • John Schorne Peregrination – A walk around Buckinghamshire in memory of a holy man said to have trapped Satan in a boot, 27 miles
  • St Magnus Way – A walk across mainland Orkney inspired by St Magnus, 55 miles
  • Paulinus Way – Todmorden on the Yorkshire/Lancashire border to York, 87 miles
  • Peak Pilgrimage – Ilam, Staffordshire to St Lawrence Parish Church, Eyam, Derbyshire, 39 miles
  • Pilgrims Way – Winchester to Canterbury,
  • The Thames Pilgrim Way – Radcot Bridge, Oxfordshire to the Magna Carta Memorial at Runnymede, Surrey, 104 miles
  • Two Saints Way – Chester Cathedral to Lichfield Cathedral, 92 miles

We have not completed these walks ourselves, but as we do, or as other 2:52 Challenge members do, we will tell you about our experiences.

 

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Pilgrimage – Part 2

We have always found it beneficial to take young people outside of the confines of the church hall or youth centre. In the fresh air and without the pressure of mobile phones and a set programme there is room for relaxed conversation, exercise and adventure. At 2:52 Challenge we use pilgrimage as one way of doing that.

We recommend that all 2:52 Challenge participants take part in a pilgrimage while completing level 1 of the programme. We suggest a minimum of two days walking (or cycling/rowing etc.) and an overnight stay either camping or staying in a youth hostel or church. The distance will depend on the ability of the group.

Young people are asked to organise the pilgrimage themselves and if they are not going to visit a church, chapel or cathedral on their way we ask that they include a spiritual element to the journey. We also recommend that part of the journey is made in silence. Even just a 20 minute part of the journey, made in silence, allows time for personal reflection.

There are many other reasons why we include pilgrimage in our programme.

  • Some of the young people that have attended 2:52 Challenge have never spent time in the countryside and a pilgrimage is a great way to introduce them to the wonders of God’s creation.
  • We include an outdoor skills challenge in the 2:52 Challenge programme that includes learning to read maps, read a compass, make a fire and cook outdoors. The pilgrimage helps group members put into practice the new skills that they are learning.
  • Working together to plan the pilgrimage develops planning, organisational and teamwork skills.
  • Walking is a great way to improve fitness levels.
  • Talking with fellow walkers that they meet along the way develops social skills.
  • Our world is so fast moving and noisy that time out, without wifi, tv and even a phone signal helps the young people find a slower pace of life.

We also feel that an overnight stay is important. Young people will often open up into the evening and you can have some great open and honest conversations.

Asking the young people to write down what they hope to get out of their pilgrimage before setting off, and then reviewing their notes after the trip, is a great way to keep focussed and open up further discussion.

 

Pilgrimage – Part 1

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We have chosen to include pilgrimage in our youth programme and I will explain why next week. This week I will give you a little bit of background about what I understand about pilgrimage.

The dictionary describes pilgrimage as a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion.

The Beginning of Pilgrimage

The Bible is littered with stories of long journeys to sacred places or that have a deeper spiritual meaning.

  • The story of Abraham journeying in the promise of new lands and numerous descendants.
  • The story of the Exodus and the Israelite nation walking through the wilderness for 40 years in penance for their lack of faith. On this journey they are strangers in the land. They see hardship and God’s provision and this is often seen as reflection for our own Christian lives as we journey through life towards heaven.
  • Then when Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem it became a requirement for all male Israelites to make the journey there for Passover, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths. Many years later, we read about Jesus, at only 12 years old, making the 85 mile journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem (and another 85 miles back again) as an act of pilgrimage to celebrate the passover.
  • Jesus spent 40 days wandering in the wilderness, a time of solitude, a time to wrestle with the enemy and time to prepare for a new part of his life.
  • The journey that Jesus took, to Jerusalem and then to the cross and onto the Garden of Gethsemane is accompanied by incredible suffering and injustice but climaxes with salvation and new life.

After Pentecost, God no longer resided only in the Temple in Jerusalem. He was now available everywhere and the need for pilgrimage to a sacred place was no longer necessary. It was the Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century, who was used to pagan practices, who created a ‘Holy Land’ and a network of shrines and relics for Christians to visit and to touch. This has created controversy ever since because why would you need to travel to encounter God when he is everywhere.

Potted History Of Pilgrimage In The UK

Over the centuries, pilgrimage in the UK has gone in and out of fashion. From the early Anglo Saxons Christians believed that life was pilgrimage, a journey from birth to death. Many also practised pilgrimage to holy sites in the UK and overseas.

The reformation was a watershed time for pilgrimage. In the 1500’s It was declared that all pilgrimages should be stopped as they were not good, the Bible does not command us take part in a pilgrimage and they gave people an opportunity to sin! Many English shrines, statues and relics were destroyed or discredited. For protestants, journeying to a holy place stopped and instead, people focussed on an inner pilgrimage. This inner journey focussed on life as a pilgrimage and pilgrimage themes began to emerge in writings. John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress is a good example of this.

Journeys to Rome or Jerusalem continued but focussed far more on a cultural experience than a spiritual one.

Curiosity for travel increased in the 1800s fuelled by archeological discoveries in Egypt and Israel. This was less about pilgrimage and more about tourism. Then in 1869 Thomas Cook took his first tour to the Holy Land and began to popularise modern tourism. By the early 1900s, sacred sites in the UK were again attracting large numbers of visitors. Places like Iona, Canterbury and Walsingham among the most popular. Some cathedrals also revived the notion of issuing pilgrim badges to visiting pilgrims.

Today believers and non-believers alike journey to churches, cathedrals and other holy places for all manner of reasons. Pilgrims and tourists rub shoulders with each other to experience the atmosphere of holy places.