Blackburn Cathedral Pilgrimage in a Day
From Hollinshead – 7 miles – This pilgrimage starts at the mysterious Hollinshead wellhouse, a sacred spring that arises in a curious stone building, the only structure that remains standing amidst the ruins of Hollinshead Hall. Heading north from here the pleasant riverside path meanders its way to St Stephen’s Church in Tockholes, where another stone curiosity awaits. Thought to be the stump of an Anglo-Saxon cross, Tocca’s Stone stands in the churchyard, above a plinth with a medieval inscription, while a unique outdoor pulpit can be found nearby. The route then heads north, mostly avoiding roads in favour of lanes and farmland paths to the southern outskirts of Blackburn, where it picks up a section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal before arriving at the cathedral itself.
From Whalley Abbey – 8.5/9 miles – Whalley Abbey is in many ways an evocative starting point for a pilgrimage in this region, since it was the site of one of Britain’s earliest churches, mentioned by the missionary St Paulinus in 628AD. The site of this church is no longer known, but the later Whalley Abbey has left its mark, now a picturesque ruin owned and managed by the local diocese. The fine parish church further embellishes Whalley’s credentials as a site of ancient spirituality, with some late Saxon (c. 1050AD) stone crosses in the churchyard. The pilgrim path then heads south through fields to the town of Great Harwood and its medieval church of St Bartholomew and St John before linking up with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal for a final stretch into the town centre, from where a short walk leads to the cathedral.
In collaboration with the British Pilgrimage Trust, these routes were created by Nick Mayhew-Smith, author of ‘The Naked Hermit‘, and Britain’s Holiest Places.