St Melangell Way – Oswestry to Pennant Melangell, 23 miles, 2 days.
You can also start at Shrewsbury Abbey and follow the St Winefride Pilgrim Trail to Oswestry: the final meeting point of several ancient pilgrimage routes to Pennant Melangell.
Destination of Pennant Melangell – the Pennant valley is mysteriously magical, and nestled within it is the shrine of a 6th-century female saint, Melangell, a grove of ancient yew trees that encircles the church, which in turn is encircled by the boundaries of the churchyard, thus making it a bronze age burial site (circular boundaries are older). Nearby is a rock in a cliff under which Melangell prayed.
The story of Melangell is that there was once a dastardly prince chasing after a hare in the Pennant valley. Perhaps sensing her saintly disposition, the hare hid under Melangell’s skirt, and his hunting hounds ran away howling, and when the prince tried to urge his hounds on by blowing his horn, it got stuck to his lips. So impressed was the prince that he gave the valley to Melangell to be her sacred refuge and she built a community there.
The shrine has all the bones intact of a woman from the sixth century, probably Melangell. A shrine like this is extremely rare, given the ravages of the Reformation which removed bone relics. The feeling of charged peace is palpable. One can touch her gravestone slab in the adjoining apse, a very grounding experience. The surrounding area is strongly beautiful with waterfalls and the Tanat valley.
NB The day section from Oswestry to Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant still needs to be walked, but is likely to be wonderful, so please fill in the feedback form below to let us know if it’s good or not.