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How To Create Your Own Pilgrimage Route

June 29th, 2022

Sancreed Well, Cornwall

The British Pilgrimage Trust have come up with a ‘how to’ template for creating a short, 1-day or half-day, pilgrimage route on foot (or horse/mule/bicycle) to any holy place destination anywhere in Britain. The general principles could also be used for creating longer pilgrimages.

1. The destination could traditionally be a Cathedral, Abbey, Minster or Priory, or any other holy place that you deem fit to be a destination, e.g. the mouth of a river. Then find a pilgrim place start point which could be an ancient tree, ancient/prehistoric monument, mosque, synagogue, temple, war memorial, parish church, chapel, cathedral, labyrinth, hermitage, cave, grave, holy well, waterfall, source, or mouth of, a river, island and hilltop. Ideally, the start point will also be near good transport links, e.g. a train station.

2. If you have decided on a destination but not a start point, draw a circle of 6-8 miles diameter from your destination (or 3-4 miles for a half-day pilgrimage on foot) on an Ordnance Survey (OS) 1:25K Explorer Map (the type with the footpaths in green, not red), then start searching within that circle for similar holy places of some diversity (i.e. not just churches, see list below) that could potentially become holy waypoints along the route. Churches and chapels (and sometimes wells, prehistoric sites and river sources) are easily identified on an OS map. For more info on their history, visit Explore Churches. And for other kinds of ancient and modern monuments and holy wells, see English HeritageNational TrustCadw (Wales)Pastmap (Scotland)Megalithic and Holy Wells, Healing Wells & Sacred Springs of Britain (and look at the Files tab on the FB page) and the labyrinth map.

3. If you have decided on both start and end points, but don’t know which holy places to choose in between, draw a straight line on the Ordnance Survey map between the start and end points and then use that as a guide to plot two different routes touching on holy/pilgrim places either side of the straight line to find two routes to test. It’s useful to use key pilgrim places as ‘anchor’ points by which you can design your route. To read the whole Pilgrimage Guide click here… 

Avebury, Wiltshire

4 Responses to “How To Create Your Own Pilgrimage Route”

  1. In the first lockdown, I did a virtual pilgrimage to Canterbury 😀worked out how many miles it was, taking into account stopping off at various popular medieval places of pilgrimage on the way, and walked the equivalent over several weeks in my house! Kept me sane – ish 😀

  2. This piece made me think of doing a pilgrimage in and around my home town, Glastonbury, to restore the magic I felt when I first came here to live. Even a town like Glastonbury can become somewhat ordinary as the years go by and I miss the initial fizz of anticipation/discovery I had on arrival, and wonder if I can re-claim something of that feeling. The word ‘re-enchantment’ comes to mind. As does re-seeing (re-spect). Pilgrimage towns have to cope with a lot of taking … spiritual tourism has its downsides … the Tor, for instance, often feels very tired from all the tourists tramping over it, yet it revives after a heavy shower of rain. May I encourage folk to consciously tune in to a giving attitude when they visit any special sacred place … biodegradable offerings (I usually take spring water) and to touch the land delicately as if it is a tender part of oneself (which of course, it is). I also take a bag for litter, and for the first half hour do a clean up, which sadly always seems necessary these days. (Sometimes I get caught up in annoyance having to do this, and that can distract from the inner peace at being in a special place. Such is modern life!) Special places are maintained with our own energy and reverence as each generation passes, so to keep them as sacred vessels we need to do our bit too. I’m aware of that, more and more in our age of ‘taking’ without conscience. Following the Druid way over the years has helped me enormously with that. /|\

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