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Isaac is walking the Camino

Pilgrims from a few year’s back will remember Isaac who walked with us over several years either side of 2010 (and will recall his sparring with Peter Doran). Isaac has sent the following request for support for a charitable venture he is undertaking…

Hello pilgrims past and present, 

This summer, starting from the second weekend of July, I shall be walking the 800km of the Camino de Santiago, starting from Saint-Jean-Pied-du-Port, to raise money for a charity with whom I volunteer in Paris. This organisation, Utopia 56, works to support refugees and other displaced people in France in a political climate that is otherwise indifferent at best and outright hostile at worst– especially as in Paris the forces of the state move with brutal rapidity to ‘clear the city’ in the run up to the Olympic Games. We offer advice on applications for asylum, French lessons, recreational activities and, most importantly, tents and other materials.

These are people who have travelled thousands of miles in perilous conditions, and who are thrown from pillar to post upon arrival in what they believe will be a safe haven. In making a pilgrimage along the Camino, I hope to, at least symbolically and spiritually, walk with those who make much more dangerous and urgent journeys to safety. Any donations would be deeply appreciated, with the proceeds going to support the work that Utopia 56 does. 

You can make a donation at this link here:

You can find out more information about Utopia 56 here (in English or in French):

Thank you very much in advance.

Yours, in pilgrimage, 


Call for Route Planners for 2024 Pilgrimage

Our accommodation team have done sterling work and halls are booked for all of our 2024 pilgrimage from Worcester to Peterborough via Coventry. So it’s time to start planning the walking routes between those halls, for which we need volunteers!

If you would like to plan a day’s walk on the pilgrimage, please let me know as soon as possible. I have a few names already, but don’t assume you are on my list!

The list of days is shown below. The shaded days are already allocated. You can express a preference for day or area, but it’s not guaranteed.

Most days are similar in length (12-15 miles) but the days either side of Market Harborough are likely to be shorter.

If you’ve not planned a pilgrimage day before, you may like to team up with an experienced planner first time around.

If you’re a regular route planner but ant a year off, let me know so I wont hassle you further!

Any questions, do get in touch.





Sun 11th



Mon 12th



Tues 13th



Weds 14th or Thurs 15th



Fri 16th



Sat 17th


Husbands Bosworth

Sun 18th

Husbands Bosworth

Market Harborough

Tues 20th

Market Harborough


Weds 21st



Thurs 22nd



Fri 23rd



Follow the Pilgrims from Bristol to Arundel

The start of the 2023 Pilgrimage, from Bristol to Arundel, is almost upon us! This Saturday, 12th August, we gather in Bristol before setting out for Arundel, to mark the 150th Anniversary of Arundel Cathedral and its links with Bristol and Bath.

As ever, you can follow our “Live” diary at

The diary also contains details of where we’ll be when (also found in CAJUFAD) should you wish to come and meet us or join us as a day pilgrim.

Our route is also available on Google Maps

Messages of support and encouragement are always welcome through CONTACT THE PILGRIMS on the website.

Pray for us as we make this pilgrimage, as we will for you.

Henriette Van Zaelen RIP

We have learnt of the death this week of Henriette Van Zaelen; she was suffering from lung cancer.

Henriette has walked with us for many years; she was also an active member (with other pilgrims) of the St Francis Ramblers.

Ramblers Obituary
This obituary appeared in the September issue of South East Walker, which is distrubuted to all Ramblers Association members in the South East

Fr David Russell, RIP

We have recently learnt of the death of Father David Russell, pilgrimage chaplain from 2000 to 2017.

Father David was a “late vocation” and worked (as a teacher (I think) before training at the Beda College in Rome. On ordination in1978 he was appointed curate at St Joan of Arc, Farnham (the “cradle” of our A&B pilgrimages). Fr David joined us on the Pilgrims Way Pilgrimage in 1976, and then on the 2nd Canterbury Pilgrimage in 1979. I can visualise him walking through the forest near Benenden in Kent but the earliest photo I can find is in the procession to Arundel Cathedral at the end of that pilgrimage.

Fr David also took part in the 1980 St Joan of Arc Pilgrimage, a spin off from our pilgrimage, to celebrate the Farnham church’s golden jubilee.

Fr David had various posting around the Diocese, including St Leonards on Sea, but eventually settled in a flat in Portslade from where he supplied other parishes, often taking up residence for a number of weeks while the parish priest was away. Despite several attempts, David never passed his driving test (on the final attempt his car was driven into on the way to the test centre) so getting to these parishes made him an expert in train and bus travel.

In 2000 Fr David re-joined the pilgrimage as Chaplain, and served in that role until 2017. He strove to balance the needs of an Ecumenical pilgrimage and the rules of the Church, pushing the boundaries and getting his knuckles rapped more than once. He felt able to take risks to best serve his “mobile parish”. It didn’t always work, but David was genuine in his efforts to minister to the pilgrims,

During his time as chaplain Fr David was less and less able to walk with the pilgrims, and joined the support team, hitching a ride with the van, caterers or drinks car. He was the instigator of the group that played Scrabble in the evenings whilst others went to the pub (Fr David had given up alcohol at this stage).

Following a nasty fire in his flat in Portslade, Fr David moved to a convent in Littlehampton. Having lost his address book in the fire he rather lost touch with people, but was always interested to hear about the pilgrimage and the pilgrims.

Funeral details are yet to be announced.

May he rest in peace.


Debbie Ellis (née Davies) RIP

We are saddened to report the death of Debbie Ellis (née Davies) on 25 February 2023.

Debbie became instantly famous on her first pilgrimage in 1980 when she lost a contact lens on the lawn at Midhurst Convent and had the whole pilgrimage searching for it (in vain).

Debbie participated in several pilgrimages in the early 1980s and continued to drop in for several years, as well as being part of several pilgrim-centric groups (e.g. the boat trips).

Debbie’s funeral will be on 29th March at 4.15pm at Leatherhead Crematorium (Randall’s Park). Debbie requested bright colours only, as she wishes it to be a happy celebration of her life .

A get together to celebrate her life will be held at The Blue Ball pub
Walton on the Hill directly after.

May she rest in peace.

A host’s view of pilgrimage

On this summer’s pilgrimage from Swansea to Hereford we were given a very generous welcome by church communities in Wales, for which we are most grateful. Helen Murphy, from St Catherine’s Church in Caerphilly, sent us an article she had written about our visit with permission to share it on our website. It is reproduced below,


According to my records, it was 2nd November 2019 that Father Mark sent me an email from a group of pilgrims enquiring if they might hire St. Catherine’s Church Hall for one night in August 2020.

Over coffee, after the service held on Sunday 3rd November 2019, the congregation of St. Catherine’s unanimously welcomed the prospect of pilgrims staying in our Hall. But who were they?

Well, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton for the last forty-seven years has organised an ecumenical pilgrimage where up to one hundred people at a time walk to a Holy Shrine. For example, in 2019, this led them to visit the Shrine of St. Hilda which meant walking from Lincoln to Whitby. If you can walk up to fifteen miles a day, like the company of other people, don’t mind stopping at pubs for lunch and sleeping in church, scout or village halls and want to grow closer to God, then a pilgrimage could be exactly right for you! To find out more, go to

But that was in 2019; this is 2022 and in between the World has suffered a Pandemic which, in its way, has been as terrifying and devastating as any Medieval plague. And during this time, Sue Adilz, from the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, and I have kept in touch by email and finally, on Friday 19th August, the pilgrims were here! They had started their pilgrimage at Swansea and their ultimate goal was Hereford Cathedral.

Forty people arrived in Caerphilly. Most of them stayed at St Helen’s Community Hall but twelve pilgrims slept in St Catherine’s Hall. Two vans laden with catering equipment and the pilgrims’ luggage always go ahead to set up ready for the weary walkers’ arrival at their home for the night.

John and Tineke, a Dutch lady who comes over specially to take part in these pilgrimages are in charge of this vanguard. The catering was done at St Helen’s which has a super kitchen and on the morning of Saturday 20th August, a prayer meeting for the pilgrims was held at St Catherine’s. It was a dreadful morning with the rain coming down like stair-rods; some of the pilgrims looked half drowned before they’d even left Caerphilly on their way to Newport and their next stop! Before they left, all those present stood to say the Celtic prayer from Northumbria which we, at St. Catherine’s, always say (or sing when allowed) at the end of every service. It begins: May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you, May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm…” – it was such an apt prayer for these people on this very wet, Welsh day!

To mark their stay, the pilgrims gave a small wooden cross to each person in the congregation who had come to pray with them so Janice, Daphne, Deryn and myself all received a cross which we will always treasure. Canon John from St Helen’s was also present, but he’d been given his cross earlier.

So that’s the background to the pilgrims’ stay but who were they honouring? The answer to that goes back to the 13th century.

In 1275, Thomas de Cantilupe, who had been Lord Chancellor of England under Simon de Montford, became Bishop of Hereford. He had become a trusted adviser to Edward I, but apparently, he was a feisty character, and he wasn’t afraid of putting the greedy Norman barons in their place. For example, when Gilbert de Clare of Caerphilly Castle fame, built a ditch, which can still be seen on the Malvern’s today, to try to filch hunting rights from the Bishop, Thomas de Cantilupe went to Law to win his case. Thomas even argued with the then Bishop of Canterbury, John Peckham, who was insisting on his right to visit the Hereford Diocese. This led to Thomas being ex-communicated. He had to travel to Italy to request that Pope Martin IV absolve him – which he did – and then Thomas promptly died! It is said that his body was then boiled with his flesh being buried in Orvieto, Italy, his heart returned for burial at Ashbridge, Buckinghamshire and his bones interred at Hereford Cathedral. So loved was Bishop Thomas that in Medieval times, his shrine was second in importance to that of Thomas a Becket’s in Canterbury Cathedral.

In 1320, Thomas, Bishop of Hereford was made a saint. In our modern times, his life has inspired Mother Theresa and more recently, Melissa Gates.

That answers why our pilgrims are going to Hereford but why does their pilgrimage start in Swansea?

In 1290, William Cragh, who, depending on which side you were on, was variously called an outlaw, a rebel, and a warrior. He was to be hanged by Lord William de Briouze in front of Swansea Castle for his part in the rebellion against the Norman baron led by Rhys ap Maredudd in which he apparently killed thirteen men. However, the gallows on which William Cragh was to be hanged collapsed twice before the deed was finally done. Lady Mary de Briouze must have been distressed by all this because she prayed to Thomas de Cantilupe to restore William Cragh to life – and her prayers were answered. As a consequence, William Cragh vowed to walk barefoot all the way to Hereford Cathedral, still with his noose around his neck, and accompanied by Lord and Lady de Briouze. William Cragh left the hangman’s rope at the shrine.

Our pilgrims have stopped at all the places associated with that journey which not only includes Caerphilly but also Margam Abbey though Father Mark was on holiday when our pilgrims visited it.

All this weekend, after meeting John and Tineke and Sue and their friends making this journey, I have had a hymn going round and round in my head: John Bunyan’s “Who would true valour see”.

This wonderful hymn ends with the words:

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away;
He'll not fear what men say;
He'll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.

And I have no doubt that the pilgrims from Arundel and Brighton Diocese shall indeed life inherit.

Helen Murphy
St Catherine’s Church, Caerphilly

St Thomas Way Pilgrimage Diary – now live!

Our first full pilgrimage in 3 years gets underway tomorrow, Saturday 13th August. Indeed some pilgrims have already made their way to Swansea to avoid rail strikes.

If you aren’t able to join the pilgrims this year you can follow progress through the web diary at

If you are on the pilgrimage, make sure you know how to submit photos and comments (via Twitter, e-mail or upload) to share your experiences and photos.

Best foot forward!.

Mini Pilgrimage – Final Details and Diary

We now have a diary page for the mini pilgrimage at

This page includes the itinerary (on the right hand side) and, at the foot of each day, within the “Walk Stats”, you will find a link to download the GPX file if you want to follow the route on your GPS device or compatible phone.

The diary is still empty (apart from some test photos!) and will remain so until participating pilgrims post content. If you are participating, that means YOU! There are 3 ways to submit content:

  1. Using Twitter, tweet a photo and a descriptive text (keep it short!) and mention @Pilgrimage2012.
  2. Go to and follow the instructions. You’ll need a password which will be shared verbally.
  3. Send an e-mail to deardiary at with a photo attached and the caption in the subject line. Photos submitted this way may not appear in the diary until later in the day.

For those not participating, the diary should start to be populated once we gather on Friday evening / start walking on Saturday.