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In the Footsteps of the Saints


Organised Pilgrimages

The SimplePilgrim follows in the footsteps of the British Saints


I was recently walking the Offa's Dyke Path with some friends. The scenery was utterly stunning, and the views of Chepstow Castle, Tintern Abbey, and Llanthony Priory from the Path, were awe inspiring. Although I have not yet completed the Path, there were very few other walkers, and the majority of these few were from abroad. One Australian commented that the British have the best trails in the world! We also have wonderful pubs and other hostelries, offering great food, drinks and a taste of the uniqueness of each region of our country. Life on the road exploring in this way can be an exhilarating experience.

All of these thoughts generated the idea of developing walking pilgrimages focused on one, or more, of our own great, and inspirational Saints. This is a wonderful way to explore our beautiful countryside, whilst learning more of the history of Christianity in these islands. After all, our most impressive historic buildings are often ecclesiastical in their origins. By delving into our history in this way, perhaps we can recapture some of that holy daring that so characterised the lives of many of these men and women.

It is possible to devise any number of itineraries to meet the requirements and interests of a specific group, but below is one that has already been organised. I felt that out of respect for Downside Abbey, and the opportunities that I have had there, I should focus on the wonderful Benedictines of Somerset! You will be very surprised to see where my investigations have led me. I have learnt much already!

The following walking pilgrimage, led by Peter Barrett, is finalised, and the booking price of £600 will include all accommodation, food, transportation and entrance fees and the fees of our speakers, except where noted otherwise. Spaces are quite limited due to the constraints of the accommodation, and all costings are worked out on the basis of 14 pilgrims attending. If you are interested, please click here to visit our bookings page.

In the Footsteps of the Somerset Saints
8th-14th and 15th-21st May 2017

Day 1: Meet for lunch at Downside Abbey. Talk about the history of the Benedictine Order. Visit the Shrine of St Oliver Plunkett, Bishop of Armagh. Visit to the Monastic Library. Join the Community in the Divine Office.

Day 2: Walk to Shepton Mallet (11 miles), visiting St. Dunstan's Spring, Harridge Wood, Holy Well of St. Aldhelm and Doulting. Stay overnight in the Shrubbery Hotel.

Day 3: Walk to Wells (6 miles), visiting Croscombe, Dinder (and its dragon) and Wells, including the Cathedral and Bishop's Palace. Stay overnight at the Crown Hotel.

Day 4: Walk to Glastonbury (12 miles), through North Wootton and the Somerset Levels to the Isle of Avalon, Glastonbury Tor. There will be a guided tour of the Abbey. Talk on Celtic Christianity by Elizabeth Rees. Stay in the George and Pilgrim Hotel.

Day 5: Bus to the Avalon Marshes (cost of bus ticket not included), to see the natural environment of the marshes, ancient artefacts, and the murder-site of St Indract. Return and stay in Glastonbury.

Day 6: Walk to Langport (13 miles), visiting the site associated with St. Kea and St. Gildas, the thatched long barns and yew tree of Compton Dundon, before arriving in Huish Episcopi and Langport. Stay in the Langport Arms Hotel.

Day 7: Tour of the remains of the Benedictine Abbey of Muchelney and see the 14th century Priest's House nearby. Walk along the River Parrett and climb Barrow Mump for panoramic views. Walk to the hill fort of Athelney. Return by coach back to Downside Abbey via Aller Parish Church.