All posts by John Chenery

The St Thomas Way Pilgrimage 2020

Dates: Saturday August 15th to Sunday August 30th 2020
Strapline: Walking in a spirit of thankfulness
Route: SWANSEA-Port Talbot-St Brides Major-St Athan-CARDIFF (rest day)-Caerphilly-Newport-Usk-ABERGAVENNY (rest day)-Longtown-Ewyas Harold-HEREFORD

See the St Thomas Way Website  for an explanation of why our strapline is appropriate.  We wil be passing through all the places listed on that website.  The St Thomas Way was not originally envisaged as a continuous walking route but we are making it into one!

Poster and Application Form coming soon!

looking back at the st hilda’s pilgrimage 2019

Do have a look at the web diary where more photos have been added since the pilgrimage was completed. There are now contributions from around 15 pilgrims. (If you have any further photos, it is not too late to select those which add to the story, caption them, and send them in).

You might also want to view the complementary set of photos in Fr Tony’s Flickr album

News of our plans for our 2020 route will be published soon.

3 Day Bank Holiday Mini Pilgrimage (4th-6th May 2019)



Do you need to get in to training?

Do you want to invite friends to experience a pilgrimage taster weekend?

Are you starting to plan your year?

We shall be organising a 3-day pilgrimage at the beginning of May, within the diocese.

Save the date now for a full and fun weekend in the Spring.

More information, an application form and requests for assistance will follow in due course!

Looking Back on the 2018 Buckfast Millennium Pilgrimage

In this message, I am bringing to our attention a few Internet resources that bring back happy memories of the pilgrimage :

Buckfast Abbey Facebook Site – scroll down to 9th September to see their album of photos from the Millennium Celebration Mass, including pictures of the pilgrims, and down to 28th August to see a video of the entire mass.  (You do not need to have a Facebook account to do this).

Tablet Article about the Mass – including interviews with pilgrims towards the end of the article – don’t be put off by the headline

Fr Tony’s Flickr Photo Album

and last but not least

Our Web Diary  Since the pilgrimage, additional photos have been added and I have been through it day by day making sure all the photos appear on the right day in the right order and with captions that make sense.  So if you last looked at the diary during or just after the pilgrimage, do look again;  hopefully It is much improved.  The number of pilgrims that have contributed photos is in double figures this year.  In particular major contribution during the pilgrimage came from Deirdre, Edward, Aidan, Danny, Clare and myself, while since the pilgrimage major contributions from Maurice, Larry and Norbert have been added.  Thanks to them and all other contributors.

I am raising money for the Palace for Life Foundation by going on a sponsored 26.2 mile walk in London.  That doesn’t sound far after walking 195 miles in August, I know, but I do have to do it all in one day, and I have to get to the start at 7am on a Saturday which is what I am looking forward to least!  When I registered there was a choice of joining the fast, medium or steady group, so I plumped for fast which is 5.5km per hour, quicker than standard pilgrimage pace!  The Foundation does great work for disadvantaged children and young adults in South London, for example running a football team for Down’s Syndrome children and running programmes to keep kids off the street and away from knife crime.  So please consider  sponsoring me to aid their work .  I will be very grateful for any donations received.

I think this is the first time I have sought sponsorship for anything since I last did a marathon-length walk over 30 years ago, and certainly the first time that I have had my own just-giving page:

John Chenery, Chief Route Planner

Update 27/09/18:  Thanks so much to everybody who has donated.  I have now exceeded my £300 target!  More donations welcome, however small; they will also be used to do great work by the Foundation.  Still two weeks to go to the big day.

Pat Donachie’s Funeral: Report

30 pilgrims were amongst a packed congregation at St Joseph’s Redhill last week.  Some pilgrims joined the choir and two were wearing pilgrimage tee-shirts.  The tribute, read by Pat’s daughter Rachel, mentioned the love and sense of community that Pat found in, and brought to, walking pilgrimages.  I attach the photo from the front of the order of service.

John Chenery

The Route to Buckfast

Following on from Francis’ “Coordinator’s Article” and the release of the poster and booking form,  here is the “Chief Route Planner’s Column”.

The hall in Kenton has been confirmed, so the route shown at the bottom of the poster is the confirmed route.  The result of some thoughtful debate at the September AGM, I believe the route chosen  is a pleasing mixture of old and new.  The middle section is largely as it was on the 1982 and 1996 Buckfast Pilgrimages, a walk along  or close to the glorious Jurassic coast of Dorset and Devon, featuring Lulworth Cove and Golden Cap.  The route from Kenton to Buckfast is new: instead of heading inland at that point as previously, we only do so after taking in a further section of coastpath, all the way to the outskirts of Torquay.  This will include Dawlish where the Great Western mainline runs right along the sea wall and we have seen on the news how it gets damaged by exceptional storms.  The pilgrimage starts in Salisbury and avoids Bournemouth so that the first rest day is in Wareham and we only hit the coast after that.

It is interesting to look at the routes of the three previous pilgrimages to see how distances have shortened over the year.  In 1980, the 6th pilgrimage ever started in Arundel and went to Buckfast – a walk of 251 miles in 13 walking days (an average of over 19 miles per day).  The monks invited us back for their celebrations in 1982 of the centenary of the rebuilding of the abbey (it was originally completed in 1018 but demolished at the reformation).  Again the pilgrimage started in Arundel.  A ferry across Southampton Water provided a short cut this time but there were still several days over 20 miles long, up to 26.5 miles!  By 1996 the pilgrims were becoming less tough.  The route was shortened by starting in Winchester, but there was still one day of 22 miles and several just under 20 miles.  These days we aim to average 15 miles and never exceed 18 miles and by starting in Salisbury, I think we can just about deliver that!

John Chenery, chief route planner