Pilgrimpace's Blog

winter trees sky
November 14, 2017, 4:16 pm
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November 10, 2017, 6:04 pm
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cistercian way talk

On Being a Broken Pilgrim: Walking the Cistercian Way


Thoughts on a Pilgrimage

Talk by the Revd Andy Delmege

Sunday 24th September 5.30pm

Llanfair Uniting Church

Penrhys, CF43 3RH

All Welcome!

Collection for the work of Llanfair Uniting Church

north wales pilgrim way – report

A few weeks ago, R, M and I walked the North Wales Pilgrim Way from west to east (Aberdaron to Holywell).  This is the ‘wrong’ direction (in that it is signposted east to west).  We did this as I am filling in the sections of the Cistercian Way which I missed when I hurt my knee last autumn.


Maddy asked me to see how viable walking the route in this direction is, as a possible alternative route for people walking the Cistercian Way.  If you were walking the whole of the CW, you would pick up this route south of Conwy and follow it to Holywell and Basingwerk before turning south down the borders.

The route is advertised as being 134 miles.  We possibly walked a little less than this.  We missed a section from Penygroes to Waunfawr as we were staying with a friend in Waunfawr and arrived in Penygroes too late and with too little energy to get to Waunfawr (I’ll walk this section when I stay with my friends next).  We also bypassed Bangor in order to finish the route before I had to get back to work.

However, some re-routing of the Coastal Path near the beginning (you can’t get off of it for ages) and our working out our own route between villages (as the route is unmarked in this direction) meant some miles added on.

The route is no more difficult to follow than the rest of the Cistercian Way in this direction (ie you need to have a good map and to use it).

The North Wales Pilgrim Way website is helpful:


The Guidebook was not useful walking west -east.


For me, it was a great route.  There is not much infrastructure so we carried camping equipment.  As there were three of us, wildcamping was more difficult (we did it once), but we mainly used campsites or got permission to camp in fields.  We stayed with friends, in the Youth Hostel at Rowan, and in a pub in St Asaph.

The route is varied and testing.  I think we averaged around 16 miles per day with full packs (my knee held up well).  There are some real pilgrimage highlights along the way:

The weather was good on our first day so we were able to get the boat across to Bardsey (you need to book this in advance).  We paid our respects to RS Thomas at Aberdaron.  There are ancient churches closely associated with St Bueno at Pistyll (the floor covered in rushes) and Clynnog Fawr – which also has a large, but very mucky, holy well.  High up, before Rowen and the steep descent to the river, you follow the Roman road.  In the Churchyard at Llangernyw is a 4000 year old yew; and nearby at Gwytherin is the mound where Winefrede had her monastery and was buried before she was moved to Shrewsbury, putting aside all the romantic legends about what actually happened, I found this a very special place; I want to go back.  And we finished on a very hot day with a plunge into the very cold waters at Holywell.


Some reflections and stories to follow (this is, for example, the first time I have been on pilgrimage and helped someone turf a grave …)

July 24, 2017, 6:44 pm
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The pilgrimage began with a very good Chinese dinner.  M and I received fortune cookies with the sort of message that you forget as soon as you read it.  R’s said “Never go back, never explain, never apologise.”  He put it meaningfully into his pocket …

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:


some great scenery to walk through:


and some great fun:


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!