The following is a ‘how to’ template for creating a short, day or half-day, pilgrimage route on foot to a Cathedral, Abbey, Minster or Priory anywhere in Britain:
- Find a holy place within 6-8 miles of your destination (or 3-4 miles for a half-day pilgrimage on foot). This could be a parish church, chapel, holy well, ancient tree, ancient/prehistoric monument, source or mouth of a river and hilltop. Ideally, it will also be near good transport links, e.g. a train station.
- Once you have a start point, draw a circle 6 miles in diameter on an Ordnance Survey 1:25K Explorer Map, which touches both start and end point, then start searching within that circle for similar holy places of some diversity (i.e. not just churches) that could potentially become waypoints along the route.
- Look for diversity above all- diversity of landscape (woodlands/open plains etc). Natural holy places are important as well as human-built holy places. Non-religious historic places where significant historic events occurred (such as battlegrounds, inventions, important meetings etc) also add a local heritage dimension. It is also worth thinking about a possible historical or spiritual ‘theme’ that links the places being walked through, but if nothing fits neatly then this is not essential.
- Try to plot route along public footpaths as much as possible, rather than along the road. Walking along the road is possible, but not preferable, and ideally best if the road has a pavement or grassy verge alongside it for maximum safety. Think “maximum holy, minimum road”. Use Google Satellite imagery to check for pavements and verges.
- Find a digital mapping app that works for you to help you plot the route and work out exactly how long it is in miles, using our guide here. We use the Memory Map app to plot routes, which requires you to buy licenses to the Ordnance Survey maps within the app. You can then share the route electronically with other people.
- Perhaps set up a Pilgrim Passport and Stamp scheme, where pilgrims can buy a card that they can get stamped at the different churches along the route. This should be familiar to those who have walked the Camino de Santiago. It might be good on a day pilgrimage route for adults and children too.
- Be clear about start and end times, especially if people want to fit in lunch, cream tea and Choral Evensong into their day’s schedule. Referring people to suggested train timetables from nearby transport hub towns and cities is useful, but NB these change frequently.
- Find a suitably-distanced pub/restaurant for lunch, which also functions as a loo stop.
- At the destination, e.g. a Cathedral, perhaps set up a pilgrims’ book for signing their names (and other data too, such as: age – gender – home-town – nationality – start-point – duration – mode (foot/bicycle/horse)).
For any questions, please email Guy.