In the current crisis caused by COVID-19, we at the British Pilgrimage Trust believe in the power and importance of pilgrimage now more than ever.
Many people, in response to the difficulties of 2020, find that they now need to ‘find a new direction’. Many are also keen to spend more time outdoors in Britain, having suffered from nature deficit disorder acutely this year.
A therapy that gives physical direction through the countryside towards a time-honoured destination is just right for our time. And, importantly, holy places are often off the beaten track of ordinary tourism; their remoteness often making them naturally compliant with COVID-19 restrictions.
We encourage you to make pilgrimage, but we urge you to take precautions, and plan carefully, when you do.
Government guidelines are changing swiftly, and we advise anyone planning a pilgrimage to check the UK, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland Government Guidelines (depending on where you are planning to travel) before setting out, as well as any further local restrictions.
The golden rule that applies to all activities also applies to pilgrimage: If you are suffering with COVID-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate.
In accordance with current advice, pilgrims must remain socially distant from those who do not live in your household, and follow government advice on group meetings. Sanitize your hands often: at touchpoints (gates and doors, for example, when walking on footpaths), and, more generally, especially before eating, and upon entrance and exits of buildings . Pilgrims should also wear face masks when in enclosed spaces, and respect and observe other guidelines set out by the places you are visiting – and consider checking for these in advance.
During these uncertain times, normal operating hours and procedures do not always hold: whether you’re hoping to stop for a pub lunch, stay in a B&B, visit a heritage or religious site, or catch a train. We advise contacting the places you wish to visit in advance, and be prepared for unexpected changes!
The Ramblers Association has helpful further resources for those hoping to make pilgrimage during this time.