Whenever we think of a pilgrimage, it tends to mean walking around another country and taking in sites of particular religious significance, but haven’t we got plenty of that right on our doorstep?
The Archdeacon of St Asaph, the Venerable Chris Potter and his wife Jenny certainly think so.
Inspired by a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, they have helped form a group in North Wales who have set up a pilgrimage here. The long distance walk from East to West across North Wales took place for the first time in August 2011.
Pilgrims already walk to Bardsey Island/Ynys Enlli, but there isn’t a clearly defined marked route. With that in mind the North Wales pilgrims walk from Basingwerk Abbey near Holywell across North Wales before joining the traditional route to Bardsey. The route takes in places of religious and historical interest, including the stone circles above the Conwy Valley and the Cathedrals in St Asaph and Bangor.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams is the patron of the North Wales Pilgrim’s Way and said:
“More than at any time since the sixteenth century, pilgrimage today is a vehicle for discovering something about God and about yourself.
“The discipline of physically covering the ground is a way of reconnecting with the time it takes to grow in love and understanding. And when that ground is already soaked through with the prayers and witness of generations of others seeking love and understanding, the journey is all the more challenging and all the more fruitful.
“North Wales is a landscape charged with a history of faith, and this particular pilgrim route will be, for all who follow it, a true path towards the light, supported by all those living memories of prayer and holy lives.”
3000 “waymarks” have now been ordered to mark out the route across North Wales.
You can see the whole route on the Pilgrim’s Way website.