Pilgrimpace's Blog


north wales pilgrim path
July 21, 2017, 4:16 pm
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I had a great few days with Mike and Roland walking the North Wales Pilgrim Way from Bardsey / Aberdaron to Holywell.  My knee held up, and it feels good to begin filling in the sections of the Cistercian Way I missed last year through injury.

I’ll post a report, reflections and some photos as I get time.

To begin with, it was interesting to find a Pilgrim Passport and some places to stamp it:

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some great scenery to walk through:

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and some great fun:

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north wales pilgrim way
July 8, 2017, 7:35 pm
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I’m packed.  Tomorrow, after Church, I’ll be getting the train to begin a journey to Aberdaron (and hopefully Bardsey) to start the North Wales Pilgrim Way with Roland and Mike.  We’re walking west to east as I begin to fill in the sections of the Cistercian Way I missed last year with my injured knee.  I’m looking forward to it very much!  Let me know if you have anything you want me to pray for as I walk.  I’ll update as I am able. I need to come up with a title for this one too!



loafing
June 3, 2017, 1:03 pm
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Managing a run of days off walking.  Yesterday to Abergavenny and a walk with two of my best friends.

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We spent the morning climbing Sugarloaf.  Back into Abergavenny for dinner and a pint, then an afternoon on the Blorange.

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A multi-day pilgrimage planned, and plenty more to walk and explore in this place

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walking the cistercian way 6 – arriving
January 15, 2017, 8:26 pm
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Maddy and I caught the bus to Pontypridd, accompanied by Pilgrim Nell the springer spaniel.  At least I walked all the way from the edge of Abergavenny round to Penrhys.  I had walked this final leg just over a year before as part of a large group pilgrimage; it was good to do it more quietly.

Climbing up on old roads, woods and fields, hills.  Finding our way past windfarms (I am now always led to reflect on the similarities and differences between these and those of La Mancha).  Good fencing and stiles meaning passing a slippery, muddy dog across. Ynysybwl, Buarth Capel, Nant Ffrwd, Mynachdy.  Arriving in good time for lunch at Llanwynno.  We climbed down to St Gwynno’s Well, very overgrown, but worth finding (much easier if you have a spaniel with you).  Another of those saints no one knows anything about.  I love this – a very definite reason for devotion.  I have an icon in my Study of two adult and one child saints.  I have no idea who they are; this seems of utter importance.

And then to the pub (Llanwynno has not much more than a well, a Church and a pub in a clearing in the forest.  Perfect.

Over the course of an hour, cheese sandwiches and a pint or two, a wonderful thing happened.  Almost everyone who had been involved in supporting me on the pilgrimage arrived.

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Together we climbed up over the tops, down to Tylorstown and then up the steep climb to Penrhys.  A visit to the well and then the Church for prayers, tea and cake.  And for me, hospitality for the night.  More on Penrhys tomorrow …

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pilgrimage talk

Walking the Cistercian Way

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Thoughts on a Pilgrimage

Talk by the Revd Andy Delmege

Saturday 28th January, 2017, 7.30pm

St Bede’s Church

Doversley Road

Birmingham B14 6NN

All Welcome!

Collection for the work of Llanfair Uniting Church



walking the cistercian way – part 5 – final days

There followed several wonderful days on this homeward stretch, making my way round towards Penrhys, stopping at Caerleon, Risca and Pontypridd, again with wonderful hospitality from friends to allow me to finish the pilgrimage.  I lost my hat.  I shredded my trousers making an ill-advised short cut over a fence when I had got very slightly off route.  On a couple of days I found an odd thing with my speed.  Conditions underfoot and my knee meant two mornings where I was averaging around one mile an hour.  I knew I had to put speed on to make it to my ending points in time.  Somehow I made well over three miles an hour.  I am not sure how this happened.

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A day of three woods – Chepstow Park, Earlswood (which is no longer there), and the Wentwood.  Sandwiches by the beautiful Earlswood Methodist Church, built by the labour of local women in the eighteenth century.  Taking the wrong path, but finding it came out in the right place.  On the ridge above the Usk north east of Caerleon, a precious few minutes walking along one of the last bits of the old pilgrim way from London to St Davids that is not under a main road.

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A morning happily looking round Roman remains, twisting my knee slightly climbing down muddy, steep Lodge Hill.  Deciding this meant it was better to head for Risca via minor roads rather than the paths of the Cistercian Way – and then finding out that this would have been the route taken by sick and infirm pilgrims.  Recovering enough to climb Twmbarlwm.

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Climbing up and down the Valleys, finding my way up and around Mynydd Machen.  Very moving to be above the Valleys on the 50th Anniversary of Aberfan, reflecting and praying on this, passing men wearing black suits, the flags at half mast, feeling the anger.

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A farmer offering accommodation and quad biking for youth work.  A small holder asking where I was bound exclaiming “Penryhs! It’s God’s country there!”



walking the cistercian way – part 3

Part 3 – Picking up the Pieces

My knee began to recover.  I spent two weeks at home building up walking – one mile, two miles, five miles, ten miles – trying not to count too much on being able to go back to Wales, but the knee behaved.  I caught the train to Abergavenny carrying a much lighter pack.  To avoid strain, I left the camping and the cooking gear.  To give myself a good chance of finishing the last section I had arranged to stay mainly with kind friends and acquaintances.

I was nervous about starting again, but managed to ease myself back in.  I had been invited to The Small Pilgrim Places Network annual gathering and had accepted on the principle that I would have been near Abergavenny at that point if the pilgrimage had gone to plan.  The Small Pilgrim Places (http://www.smallpilgrimplaces.org/) is one of those things that does what it says on the tin.  It is a network of places that pilgrims visit

Small Pilgrim Places are:

  • Spaces for pondering, breathing, meditating, praying and ‘being’
  • Small places, not those already on the map, well-known, or that draw crowds;
  • Simple, quiet and unpretentious, with the presence of the Divine;
  • Places of worship, gardens, ruins, open spaces, holy wells, etc.;
  • Welcoming and inclusive.

It is well worth looking at the website and seeing if any of the places are near you.  It was good for me, as a pilgrim, to spend time with people who are concerned with maintaining pilgrimage places and with welcome.  There is a real richness in putting it all together.  If you are reading this and live in Britain, do you have a Small Pilgrim Place near you?  Do you have a somewhere that could become a Pilgrim Place?

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the Peace Garden at Hedd Wen

Esther de Waal led us in a reflection focusing, wonderfully, on cloister gardens, asking us to find our own place of silence, the threshold, the place for entering our own deepest interior self.  I think this has helped tie together a lot for me, the themes of who I really am, how I can really be that person, encountering in silence and solitude being among the deep gifts of this pilgrimage.  We were given this poem by Bonnie Thurston from Practicing Silence to ponder and pray:

Monk’s Prayer

At the monastic centre

is always a cloister,

an orchestrated emptiness,

a place of light,

a fountain to feed

the heart’s garden.

 

Give me this life:

a centre empty

of all but light,

the stillness of Eden

before fruit was plucked,

my heart a spring

of living water.

 

The next morning I woke to before dawn to heavy rain.  It passed and I began walking.  A couple of hours along a quiet road before I picked up the Offa’s Dyke Path.  Listening hard to my knee, but it coping.  The walking did me good.  Views of some of my favourite hills – The Skirrid, Sugarloaf and The Blorange (I would go out of my way to climb The Blorange), passing the site of Grace Dieu Abbey of which there is no sign, it is utterly gone.

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Good to be back, thinking and praying, reflecting as I walk.  A picnic on a hillside.  Cheese scones, welshcakes, apples, black tea.  looking down at a tiny remote Church that was locked when I reached it.  Into Monmouth after 16 miles, a bed and breakfast, a bath, a meal and sleep.