Pilgrimpace's Blog

holywell pilgrimage 1

the idea was to walk from Shrewsbury Abbey where St Winefrede’s Shrine was


to Holywell where her miracle happened.  About 60 miles, lots of good hills from Oswestry onwards, three long days and two short ones.  For me it was a chance to get match fit for the Cistercian Way in a couple of weeks and to test and overhaul my kit.

We wild camped for all but one night when we stayed in a campsite


although one of those nights (with permission and invitation from the owners) was in a summerhouse


Roland bearing up under severe privation

I am very glad I did it.  I spent the first couple of very hot days struggling under my pack and telling myself I was a b*****y idiot and the Cistercian Way would be my last walk.  Fitness kicked in and I loved the views and the country


Even in the heat and dryness we didn’t need to resort to dog milk (making coffee from a sheep trough doesn’t count, right?) and we were able to test the best cures for dehydration (a pint of water, a pint of light coloured bitter, and a bag of pork scratchings).


We ate well (here is Roland demonstrating how to cook with bleach).


concrete and manageable
July 19, 2016, 2:16 pm
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Cycling is concrete and manageable. A bike, a road, a man: nothing could be simpler. In cycling you only need call on the top layer of your brain, and introspection is not immediately necessary. Sometimes exhaustion ensures that images rise to the surface that you had forgotten you were carrying with you, but you can always dismiss them as exhaustion-induced hallucinations

  • Bert Wagendorp Ventoux

Mont Ventoux picture from wikipedia commons

July 18, 2016, 9:15 pm
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The simplicity of walking – the essential humanness of putting one foot in front of another – made a deep kind of sense. The more I thought about taking that first step, and following it with another, and another, the more fundamental it felt. What better way to know Europe than to expose myself to it completely, to be aware of each splatter of rain, each stone beneath my feet? How better to understand the processes of loss and change than to travel in the shadow of Paddy’s words? Above all, what better way to have an old-fashioned adventure?

.- Walking the Woods and Water, Nick Hunt

advent journey 1
November 28, 2015, 7:01 pm
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The season of Advent begins this evening.  Let’s journey together.  This quote which I found in Tristan Gooley’s The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs speaks of much more than how to be outside.  Perhaps it gives us direction on how to be at this time:

We could at once  perceive by our companion’s manner of proceeding the true cause of our own failure the preceding day.  He was all quietness.  We had been all bustle.

– Thomas McGrath


walk : don’t walk
July 27, 2015, 7:38 pm
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Thanks to Beverley for noticing that the first verse of Psalm 1 begins

“Blessed are they who have not walked”



I love how the journey circles and twists on itself, forward and back.


I spent this morning with the wonderful folk at St Paul and St Silas, Lozells, preaching at Mass and helping them prepare for Jesus Shaped People which they start next week.  I went from there back to St Gabriel’s, Weoley Castle for the leaving do for Jenny Cavendish, who has been the Children’s Worker there for the past years.  It was very good to be back with everyone there, to find them in good heart as they wait for a new priest, and to see how the life in that special place continues to develop.


On our holiday we visited pilgrim places I have not been to for a couple of decades.  We drove through the narrow and twisting road towards the Pembrokeshire Coast.  I’d checked that the army weren’t firing on the Castlemartin Ranges, and we went past the unmanned checkpoint to the carpark above the cliffs.  We climbed down the stairs to St Govan’s Chapel and Well nestling in the inlet where Govan hid from pirates in Celtic times.  Next year, when I make my pilgrimage round Wales I will divert for a couple of days and spend time here, walking along the Coast Path from Tenby.  It is a place where heaven feels close.

Later, we spent a day in St David’s.  Here is the Cathedral and the restored Shrine:



People keep telling me I need to visit St David’s on my pilgrimage.  I have been hesitating, but I am persuaded now.  I will probably leave the Coast Path at Neyland, soon after St Govan’s Head, and work out an inland path, as this will save a few days.  There is such richness, such possibility ahead.


A couple of weeks away in Pembrokeshire and the Forest of Dean was a real gift.  Not spectacular travel, but a chance to rest, a break, time away from work to return refreshed, time to slow down and be, to sit quietly and read some good books, to potter around, to be outside, to do some walking.


I’ve begun Richard Holmes excellent Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer.  Here he quotes from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Journal of his journey through the Cevennes:

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go; I travel for travel’s sake.  And to write about it afterwards, if only the public will be so condescending as to read.  But the great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of life a little more nearly; to get down off the feather bed of civilisation, and to find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints.