Pilgrimpace's Blog

pilgrimage to penrhys

I was privileged last Saturday to have a prelude to my Sabbatical Pilgrimage along the Cistercian Way in a year’s time.

I have been in touch with Maddy Gray from the University of South Wales who designed the route a few years ago.  It was important to connect up in more meaningful way than email, so I travelled to Pontypridd to walk the Annual Pilgrimage to Penrhys.


Andy and Maddy

This was an excellent day.  About 25 of us walked, including my friend Joy who gave me hospitality the night before.  It was a really varied day’s walking with good company as far as possible along the old pilgrim route.  I was glad I was not following medieval practice of carrying a candle as tall as myself while I climbed the hill on my knees.


You can read details of the route on Maddy’s blog here.


You can see Penrhys in the distance on the hill on the right in this photo (with the cloud above it!).  It is an important place.  It was the most popular Marian Shrine in Wales before the Reformation.  It is now an outer housing estate, which is home to some wonderful people and the Llanfair Uniting Church.  Several members of the Church walked with us on the day and I really enjoyed the chance to meet people and begin what I hope will be ongoing relationships.

the history of Penrhys told by the tapestry in the church

the history of Penrhys told by the tapestry in the church

Penrhys is one of the thin places – there is much rich reflection promised in these being located in an outer estate.  My plan for the pilgrimage next year is to start and finish at Penrhys (assuming I am not presuming too much on the hospitality of folk there – although there are rumours of a party).  I’ll start almost certainly on September 3rd and people are welcome to walk with me.  It will be important to have Penrhys as my destination, especially when things are tough on the way round.  When it is a bit nearer to my beginning the pilgrimage, I will ask for help with hospitality on the way round – I would be especially grateful for dry floors to sleep on!

the twentieth century statue on the site of the original chapel

the twentieth century statue on the site of the original chapel

St Mary's Well

St Mary’s Well

One of the best bits of a Sabbatical is anticipating it and preparing for it.  Saturday has made it much clearer in my mind.  I’ve got a bit of time now to read and think and dream (as well as get a bit fitter and a bit thinner).  And then some serious planning.

Let me know if you want to be involved


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