Pilgrimpace's Blog

pilgrimage of the spirit
April 5, 2020, 6:19 pm
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The rowing Camino de Mar feels like a real pilgrimage of the spirit, a chance to move beyond the steady horror of the pandemic and the lockdown, to intercess, imagine, pray (and – possibly – to listen to a little music).


I am south of Upton Upon Severn, making steady progress down the river.  I’ll report on it all soon.  The last few weeks have been very busy – my diary emptying of some things but filling with others as emergency plans to keep essential things going are put in place, learning how to gather a Church that can’t physically meet, adjusting to pastoral work on the phone, to funerals with restricted numbers of mourners, making sense of it all.

I am hoping for space in Holy Week.

This quote from St Therese of Lisieux means a lot:

“You will not arrive at what you desire by following your own path, or even by high contemplation; but only through a great humility and a surrender of the heart.” 

and time to read again Four Quartets, down the passage which we did not take towards the door we never opened 

reflecting on the journeys that are possible, the journeys that may save us at this time – as well as the journeys, which for the sake of the world, we must not undertake

infinitely loved
April 3, 2020, 4:38 pm
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I’ve taken a short break from pilgrimage to record this message for the Diocese, which I hope may give some hope and encouragement at this time

NEW Video: @pilgrimpace Andy Delmege, Vicar of St Bede’s Brandwood and Executive Director @NECNestates reflects upon a story from the Book of Daniel and introduces an oft-overlooked ancient prayer #infinitelyloved #weprayforyou #SongOfTheThree


love and prayers to you all



March 30, 2020, 9:00 pm
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A great day reaching Worcester, although not for all boats.  I’m not completely sure what happened to him, but good to see so many people offering practical help.


I moored up out of sight of him, and made my way up the hill to the Cathedral and the Shrine of St Wulfstan, miracle worker, social reformer and opponent of slavery.  I went to ask for his prayers in this journey of the spirit.  We need them.  The Cathedral was surprisingly quiet today.

I reached Diglis Basin, one of the places I have been looking forward to reaching.  Today marks the end of my journey along the canals and I will enter the River Severn.


The Basin was busy, porcelain going to Birmingham, all sorts of things to Bristol.

The updated map is here.

Stay safe and stay indoors.  Let me know if I can pray for you.

rowing report – catch up
March 29, 2020, 6:12 pm
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Notes from an almost week of pilgrimage:

I’ve done the first 5km – the Stratford on Avon Canal (which is a few meters from my house) to it’s junction with the Birmingham and Worcester Canal. I turned south and soon entered (illegally because I am a very small boat) the Wast Tunnel. I have emerged near Hopwood, and plan to start again tomorrow.

another lovely spring evening. Rowed along the canal, through Hopwood. The pub there does a good pint, and also whole rotisserie roast chicken …. then through Barnt Green to Alvechurch. Have moored for the night near Alvechurch Station

a difficult day today with a couple of long tunnels. I made it to Tardebigge – a tale to be told of unforecast and unseasonable snow, of thawing out in the Canal Trust Cafe with mugs of strong tea, and of being put right with a friend, a couple of pints, and a bag of home made scratchings. Happy Annunciation!

have moored up near Stoke Works. Rowing through the twilight, the heron playing hide and seek, chase.

Am praying for you as I row. Let me have any prayer requests

one day with no rowing – it is a hard time at the moment.  Caring for ourselves so we can care for others is important

have moored up just south of Droitwich.  Nipped into the town for a Brine Bath and then afternoon tea at Chateau Impney, with thoughts of the Victorian Salt King and his young French wife pining for home

a quiet Sunday afternoon boating and am moored under the A449 Bridge near Worcester.  The lockdown and travel restrictions should mean a very quiet night.  Am cooking pie, mash, veg and gravy on the primus.

Updated map here



Camino de Mar
March 28, 2020, 7:27 pm
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with thanks to Peter Alcock

We are in the terrible crisis of the coronavirus pandemic.  Among the less serious consequences of this for many people is the closure of the Camino routes and the inability to travel.  Here in the UK, we are in lockdown.

I was thinking about pilgrimage and also about the importance of having something to take me beyond the stress of the present moment, when I hit upon an idea.  I have a rowing machine in my garage.  Why don’t I use it to row to Santiago.  I talked about this with a few friends – and it is gaining traction.  So, I will try to record it in the blog.

Most days I can just row a few miles in the evening.  It is likely to take me a long time.  Around 1200km.  From my home in south Birmingham, down the Birmingham and Worcester Canal to Worcester, then the River Severn to Bristol, and out to sea with the small matter of the Bay of Biscay.

I hope this isn’t a “stunt Camino”.  It feels like a pilgrimage.  I will be praying along the way – please leave any prayers you would like me to make in the comments.  It is also a time to reflect, a spiritual journey during what promises to be a testing and awful time, and a voyage into the imagination.

Screen Shot 2020-03-28 at 19.22.40

My friend Sean is recording the journey on Maps.  You can follow my (slow) progress here.

I am very grateful to all who have been inspired by this.  Please join me.

I’ll post an account of the first days as I row to Droitwich Spa very soon.

Buen Camino!

August 16, 2019, 3:35 pm
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One of the unwalked sections of the Cistercian Way beckons.  This year I appear to have enough kit.


See here for approximate kit list – a few changes – eg gas stove rather than alcohol.  I’m really looking forward to picking up the fourth (I think) part of this extended pilgrimage.  Let me know if you would like me to pray for anything.  Hopefully a visit to St Melangell.

Time to look in details at the maps


Bless you all.

August 9, 2019, 4:46 pm
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