On this day 45 years ago, Easter Monday, 31st March 1975, 32 intrepid walkers met at Arundel Cathedral, and started a 14 day trek to “beat the bounds” of Arundel and Brighton Diocese. For the most part they were strangers to one another at the outset, but they would become firm friends as they endured the 240 mile walk, the snowy weather, and the hard floors at night.
Masterminded by the late Fr Bill Haynes, the pilgrimage became an annual event, albeit moved to August so the challenge was heat or rain not snow. We’ve faced other hardships along the way – stolen boots, half-demolished accommodation, obstructed footpaths, injuries and illness, even deaths. But, with prayer and mutual support, we’ve pulled through, and come out stronger.
Only in 2001, when Foot and Mouth Disease closed the UK countryside, have we not been able to make our pilgrimage. With the current corona virus pandemic, our mini-pilgrimage has been put back to 2021, and the summer pilgrimage hangs in the balance.
As the pandemic affects the whole world, we invoke the pilgrimage spirit of prayer and mutual support – for those we know, and those we don’t yet know, those we journey with and those we pass (at a safe distance) on the way. We will come out the other side, and we’ll come out stronger, but for now we must keep the faith and stay strong.
MINI PILGRIMAGE UPDATE We have just been informed that on Friday May 8th Arundel Cathedral Mass will be at the revised time of 09.00 (not 10.00 as stated on the booking form). This change has been made by the Cathedral due to VE Day Celebrations in Arundel commencing 10.00. Pilgrims not arriving Thursday evening are advised to be in Arundel very early on Friday morning as the town will be busy. Pilgrim Registration has been brought forward to the earlier time of 08.15-08.45 in Arundel Cathedral Centre.
Are you interested in walking? Do you want to join a travelling Christian community? The Diocese of Arundel & Brighton Ecumenical Walking Pilgrimage is walking the St Thomas Way from Swansea to Hereford. We are making our pilgrimage “in a spirit of thankfulness”. Come and explore our faith and Christian heritage in the countryside and churches of South Wales and Herefordshire.
We sleep in church, school or community halls, dine together, walk, laugh, sing, pray and worship together. We follow footpaths rather than roads where possible. The journey is as important as the destination. Come and walk with us! Book early!
All are welcome. You need to be over 16 (or accompanied by an adult), able to walk 15 miles a day at a moderate pace and make your own way to Swansea & home from Hereford. Luggage is transported by van; a daypack only is needed to carry supplies. Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner are included in the price. Overnights must be booked and paid for in advance, all organised by past pilgrims on a voluntary basis. Day pilgrims are welcome.
Are you interested in walking? Do you want to join a travelling Christian community? Come and walk with us for the weekend! – Only £50!
New Pilgrims Welcome!
Arundel – Duncton – Chiddingfold – Guildford Join us for a taster weekend to explore an aspect of our Christian faith. Every day we walk, share and worship together as an Ecumenical Christian community, recognising our shared Christian mission to know and serve the Lord. We stop at pubs for lunch and sleep on the floor in church, school or community halls. We try to walk on footpaths rather than roads, where possible and stop for prayers in the churches that we pass along the way. Over the years we have found enormous community value in sharing our lives together in this way. Our pilgrimages are open to all, so long as you can walk about 15 miles per day at a moderate pace, sleep on a floor and be able to make your own way to Arundel & home from Guildford. Under 16s must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult. Luggage and bedding are transported by van to each overnight stay, so only a daypack is needed to be carried for supplies. Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner are included in the price. All overnights must be booked and paid for in advance; day pilgrims are welcome without prior notice.
We have learnt today of the death, last Sunday, of Gillian McLauchlan. Gillian, together with her twin sister Monica and mum Helena,put in a brief appearance on the very first pilgrimage in 1975. Gillian and Monica walked many of the early pilgrimages, and co-opted sister Theresa to join the support team in the late 70s and early 80s.
Gillian was one of the fast walkers of those early years, and she and I often walked stride-for-stride.
Eventually work got in the way of being a regular pilgrim, but Gillian always kept in touch and often turned up to call on the pilgrims when it was convenient. Looking back through my photos, in 2011 she was there at the start in Westminster and joined again (with Monica, driven by John Russell) at Birmingham.
Having lost her twin sister to breast cancer, Gillian was diagnosed a few years ago with bowel cancer. She was pretty upbeat – last July she texted me to say “Chemo not working so tablets stopped. Liver function worse. Got to get on and enjoy slow but active life for as long as possible”. And in late August she told me she was off to Lourdes. She’d always been a great supporter of Handicapped Childrens Pilgrimage Trust (HCPT) as in this picture from 1981.
It’s reunion weekend! Hope to see lots of you in Dorking and the Surrey Hills. If you’re coming, please post some pictures (usual methods – if you can’t remember ask John or Aidan). If you’re not coming you can follow us on the diary at http://www.thepilgrims.org.uk/2019/reunion.php. If you’ve not booked but want to join for the walk tomorrow, please let Louise know (as per the invitation).