Pilgrimpace's Blog

the lock inn
May 9, 2020, 2:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,


The rowing continues – I am approaching the Severn Crossings (updated map soon).  It has been busy, so apologies for not posting for a while.

The pandemic and the lock down are affecting us deeply.  I think of those who have lost their health or lives, the bereaved – many funerals at the moment, those who have lost their livelihoods, those for whom being confined to their home is intolerable.

And so many things we miss, the joy of company, of a pint.  One blessing is the availability of online platforms to meet.  They may not be the real thing, but they are better than nothing  – and also give the chance for people from far away to come together.  I think of a Church service which a close friend from the States is able to join; or the laughter of the Parish Quiz last night.

I can’t go to the pub – and I wonder how many country pubs will be left on my pilgrimage routes, but I am able to visit a pub called The Lock Inn each week.  A group of friends from across the country supporting one another, telling stories, drinking a pint or two, eating something unhealthy.

This pilgrimage of the spirit continues.  I pray for you as I row slowly in the direction of Santiago.

April 27, 2020, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

A quick catch up.  After a hiatus, I am making good progress again, getting in some kms rowing after work each evening.  The pilgrimage is definitely on.  I am well south of Gloucester now and about to enter the Severn Estuary.  Things are about to get choppy.

Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 21.55.22

It is just as well I have had time to figure out how to row this thing.


More seriously, there is an interesting discussion on the Camino Pilgrim Facebook Group about pilgrimage in a time like this.  I’m formulating some thoughts on spiritual pilgrimage – I believe that this is one – and will get them down in a post soon.

As I leave lockdown each night to row (in my garage) I pray for you all.

April 24, 2020, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Not much blogging or rowing for a while.  A heavy cold and ministry has been full in this disconcerting and difficult time of lockdown.  However, there has been some progress with the rowing – I am now well south of Gloucester on the Severn – still a way to go, but wonderful to have a focus and the pull to exercise, the Pilgrimage of body and spirit, even if not in space.


I was glad that I had to go down rather than up this unexpected obstacle on the Severn

It has been good to have a bit of space for reading and thinking in amongst it all.  This quote has meant a lot this week:

Hadewijch, despite the ecstatic experiences she describes with such ardour, insists that experiences of fruition are not the goal.  What is essential is the recognition of God’s presence in absence, the realisation of the joy that can be found in the midst of suffering, and the adherence to the faith hidden in the midst of ‘unfaith’.
– Bernard McGinn, cited in Gillian Ahlgren’s commentary on The Interior Castle
and very good to have companionship.  Friends once a week in the Lock Inn.
And time talking reflecting and praying last night with the Carmelite Group.


I pray that you stay safe and well.


April 13, 2020, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Happy Easter everyone.  Less blogging last week in the busyness of Holy Week, and the figuring out we are all doing of how to celebrate Easter in this time of Coronavirus.  Hopefully some reflections on that at some point soon.

However, the rowing continues most days, this Camino of the Spirit.  I am on the River Severn and making good progress,  currently at Ashleworth Quay, probably a couple of days away from Gloucester.


Today is cold, but the winds are from the north, so I am trying to use my sails.

Probably like many of you, I am tired.  The Bishop wrote to clergy reminding us last week to take a 24 hour rest period each week and to make sure we rest after Easter.  I am resting until Sunday, which I need.  A combination of working in the garden, reading, writing, relaxing – the the Camino.

The pilgrimage means I am moored up by a pub.  I am giving this some thought.  I remembered Middlemarch and Casaubon’s fruitless work on The Key to all Mythologies.  I thought too of the news that there are 50 million pints of beer going to waste in pubs.  And I have realised that Casaubon was nearly there – what he was really looking for, and what is needed, is The Key to the Pub Door.  I will report back when I have slaked my thirst.

More soon – hopefully something vaguely serious.  While I row, I am praying for you.

Easter Hope
April 12, 2020, 8:54 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Here is a short reflection on behalf of the Camino Pilgrim Group

Happy Easter to you all in these strange and difficult times



March 30, 2020, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

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
Filed under: camino de mar, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,


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
Filed under: camino de mar, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

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!

new pilgrim book
July 25, 2019, 11:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,


Johnnie Walker writes:
I’m delighted to share news of this new book with you. The publishers asked if I would write this in the style of Joyce Rupp’s “Walk in a Relaxed Manner” which was published 15 years ago. I was delighted to do so and even more pleased when Joyce Rupp agreed to write the Foreword. That delight turned to astonishment when Martin Sheen offered to write the concluding chapter. His words are powerful and beautiful.
I’d like to be absolutely transparent about the finances. The publishers are themselves a social enterprise who have been in business for 60 years. The arrangement I made with them is that there will be no author or contributors’ fees or royalties. In return, they have provided me with 2000 copies free of charge to raise money for pilgrim charities, and to give to Pilgrim Associations to sell for funds. Copies will soon be on their way to the Australian and South African Associations. I’m talking with the Canadian Association and APOC, and a supply of books are theirs if they want them.
Right now the book is on sale from the Camino Society Ireland, who are happy to post world-wide:
The price is 10€ – but remember that means that exactly 10€ goes to helping them help pilgrims.
The book is also available on Kindle – for Kindle purchases the publishers will donate 50% of the sale proceeds to pilgrim charities.

anglican chaplaincy in santiago – starting!
The Anglican Chaplaincy in Santiago de Compostela gets underway this Sunday.
Full details are here:

Seasonal – Because, at least this year, this chaplaincy will only be offering its services during May/June and September/October 2018. Depending on how this pilot project works out, offers will be expanded in the years to come.

Anglican-led – Because the project originated among members of the Church of England, but ALL are welcome, both as visitors and as volunteers.

Camino – Because our main focus is on pilgrims, but the door is equally open to other visitors to Santiago and expats that live in the area.

Church of England (Diocese in Europe) – That is the ecclesiastical jurisdiction we operate under, or, in simpler words, the Anglican bishop in Europe, his suffragan bishop and staff

The first priest serving in this pilot project is the Revd Liska Stefko from Toronto (Anglican Church of Canada) who works both in parish ministry and as Pastoral Minister to L’Arche, see www.larche.org. She has walked her first Camino in 2014 and gives part of her sabbatical to our project.

Alan Pearce, fellow pilgrim, hospitalero in Rabanal/Miraz and volunteer in several Camino projects. A retired horticulturist and a licensed lay minister (lay reader) in the Anglican Church of Australia for the last 25 years, he has walked his first Camino in 2008.

These two are the first, but several others will follow in their foot steps and we will introduce them when the time comes.

What we offer

During the first year of the chaplaincy (13th May – 27th June 2018 // 2nd September – 23rd October 2018) there will be an Eucharist every Sunday and a more informal Eucharist every Wednesday.

The Sunday Eucharist will take place at 10:00 a.m. at the Parador Hotel (Hostal dos Reis Catolicos) here in Santiago. The hotel is giving us the free use of the lovely “Sala (salon) San Marcos” and the director told us “we are happy to do this for you, as this building has such a long history of caring for pilgrims”.

During the week there will be several events at Egeria House where the volunteers are also staying during the project:


Open Breakfast Door – As we volunteers need to breakfast anyway, we will keep the door open from Monday to Friday from 08:00 – 09:30 to share with the pilgrims that come by what we have ourselves for breakfast. There is no program per se, just good old fashioned practical hospitality.

The door will be also open each weekday afternoon from 15:00 – 18:00 (Wednesdays longer). Most of the time we simply offer a “drop-in, have a cup/glass of something and a chat with us about your Camino or whatever you like to chat about”.

At 17:00 each weekday we then invite people to join us for a “Journey Prayer” – a form of reflection about the Camino and its impact on us all. This Journey Prayer will take different forms depending on who is present.

On Wednesday we invite you to an informal Eucharist “around the table” followed by a simple, shared meal. Which brings me to a text that has spoken a lot to us, the members of the “starting team”:

“We saw a stranger yesterday.
We put food in the eating place,
Drink in the drinking place,
music in the listening place.
And with the sacred name of the triune God
He blessed us and our house,
Our cattle and our dear ones.
As the lark says in her song:
Often, often, often, goes the Christ
In the stranger’s guise.”​

If you are interested in joining us as a volunteer, we are still looking for lay volunteers for September/early October 2018, but we already have “priestly coverage” for the whole time of the project in 2018. If you like to volunteer in either position in 2019, or in the following years, or if you simply want to keep up to date with this new chaplaincy and what it offers, more details here: http://egeria.house/chaplaincy/ All volunteers need to have walked at least one Camino!

The above link is also the best one to share with your local Camino association, Facebook group and the like, if you want to help to get the word out.

And obviously we are very grateful for any prayer, good thoughts/wishes and general expressions of support.