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News Update February 2024


You will have seen yesterday’s announcment that bookings are open for our 2024 pilgrimage. If you followed the link, you will have learnt that this year we have a new online booking form. This collects all the required information that previously went on the paper forms, but does not include the actual payment. Rather, instructions are given for how to make payment via online banking (preferred) or a good old fashioned cheque. Many thanks to our webmaster Aidan for setting all this up.

Please get your booking in early or else you might be disappointed . We are putting more effort into publicity this year to try and attract new pilgrims. Once capacity is reached, bookings will be closed.


We have also now released our posters for this pilgrimage: the main poster, an inkjet-printer-friendly alternative poster, and an image for social media. Please distribute these to groups you think might be interested in our pilgrimage, electronically or physically.


We have come up with the some words as a suggested entry for parish newsletters, walking group newsletters etc. The idea is to make it easy for newsletter editors; they don’t have to come up with their own words but can use the words in the following paragraph:

All are welcome to join the Heart of England Walking Pilgrimage from Worcester to Peterborough, 10th to 25th August 2024.   The route takes in Worcester, Coventry and Peterborough cathedrals, Rutland Water and much splendid countryside.  There are rest days in Warwick and Market Harborough.  The organisers are the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton ecumenical walking group who have run an annual pilgrimage since 1975 in different parts of England and Wales.  Come with us and experience walking as part of our travelling Christian community, whether for a fortnight or just an afternoon!  The cost is £350 to walk with us all the way, or £33 per night to book a shorter spell (£31 per night for 7 days or more, 25% discount for under 21s).  To find out more and book your place, visit

Please send these words out to suitable newsletter editors or webmasters that you know! Feel free to adapt them to suit the particular audience.


We have introduced two categories of posts. Yesterday’s “Bookings are Open” post was a public-facing post and as such it is listed under Announcements on the home page of the website. The post that you are reading now is an internal-facing post and is not listed under Announcements; rather you have to click on Latest News to see it. This has been done to counter feedback received that our website appears to be too introspective, highlighting news that is interesting to past pilgrims but not to prospective new pilgrims. Both categories of posts continue to be emailed to all subscribers when published on the website.


All the halls were recce’d and booked before Christmas. Congratulations and thanks to the team of Bruce, Penny, Richard and Chris. Meanwhile Bruce is claiming a day route planning record . He walked Worcester to Inkberrow in October. Is this the earliest ever? Bruce did this at risk, though, as the day had not been allocated to him yet!

Joan Gale Funeral Details

We have been informed that all are welcome at Joan’s funeral which will take place on Mon 22nd Jan at 12 noon at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium (Balcombe Road, Crawley, RH10 3NQ) followed by refreshments at Reigate Baptist Church (Sycamore Walk, Woodhatch, Reigate RH2 7LR).

There is a funeral notice here.

Maurice advises that pilgrims arriving by public transport can catch a train to Gatwick Aiport, and then Metrobus number 3 at 1131 which starts from the A23 stop outside Gatwick South Terminal and gets to the Crematorium at 1142 in time for the funeral ceremony.

Joan Gale RIP

Pilgrims will be very saddened to learn of the death of Joan Gale. On the 27th of December, Maurice Hickman informed us as follows: “Some very sad news was related to me by a former pilgrim who lives in my parish, Anne O’Donnell.  She told me that Joan died this morning in East Surrey Hospital.  Apparently unbeknown to me she had been unwell for some time.”

There is a funeral notice here.

Joan first came on our pilgrimages in the early 1990s as one of the burgeoning Redhill contingent. She remained a regular into the 2010s and introduced several of her friends to the pilgrimage. She was one of those pilgrims who was the life and soul of the party. In recent years she was no longer walking with us but continued to come and meet the pilgrims, most recently on the final Sunday morning of the Bristol to Arundel pilgrimage 2023, when she joined us for coffee after mass, and she seemed in fine fettle then.

Here are some photos to remind us of the good times Joan shared with us:


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



Eastbourne Reunion: Invitation and Booking Form

The invitation / booking form for the reunion is now ready. This is our first 2-night Autumn reunion since 2019. The walk includes Beachy Head and the lunch venue is an old pilgrimage favourite, the Tiger Inn at East Dean. Since the reunion is only 3 weeks away, please respond to the invitation as soon as possible if you are coming. The form is to be filled in by hand and posted, but please email also to say the form is in the post. Also please email if you are planning on going on the walk only. We hope to share the fun and fellowship of the reunion with past, present and future pilgrims.

Pilgrimage Reunion 20th-22nd October – Eastbourne – Hold the Dates

John (not me!), Gary and Maurice are kindly organising a pilgrimage “reunion”, based in John’s home parish of Christ the King, Eastbourne. This will be the traditional pilgrimage reunion format of 2 nights in a hall, with a walk and evening meal on the Saturday. All are welcome, especially those who have not been on one of our pilgrimages before!

Hold the dates for now and the details and booking form will be available as soon as possible.

Extraordinary Meeting of Pilgrims, held 5pm, Wednesday, 16th August 2023

Pilgrims gathered informally at St James’ Church, Devizes (Rest Day on the Bristol to Arundel Pilgrimage). Attended by 25 of the 33 pilgrims registered at Devizes, including members of the committee.

Purpose: To discuss volunteers required for 2024 and future pilgrimages.

Fr. Anthony opened the meeting with a short prayer.

Introduction (by John Chenery (chief route planner) & David Fletcher (coordinator). The 25 June committee meeting raised concern that more support was needed for future pilgrimages. The pilgrimage was led by volunteers who had held posts for a very long time, and new volunteers were required to fill vacant posts. In the meeting there were 6 who had previously been Coordinator for the usual 4 year term (1 year as deputy, 2 yrs as coordinator, plus 1 year as deputy again). The deputy post has been vacant this year and there is no planned continuation for 2023-24, nor in our 50th Anniversary year 2025. John is at this September AGM proposing to stand as Coordinator for 2023-24 – it’s the first time in a 48 year history that a Coordinator has stood a second time. Aidan Simons is similarly considering 2024-25 in our Anniversary year.

Those gathered continued the discussion, which is summarised in the main comments below:

What’s the problem?

We have a shrinking organisation team in a climate of growing public interest in pilgrimage. (We need to grow our small active team to replace those retiring and accommodate a growth in numbers of walking pilgrims. Our special time on pilgrimage is made possible by our pilgrim community working together as volunteers. Providing an enjoyable time together on a spiritual journey, where the journey is just as important as the destination. To continue this journey together we now need more volunteers).

Is 4 years too long a post for coordinator? (It is not ideal for everyone, and we need to look at how we can achieve continuity in different situations).

How do we get the message out about our pilgrimage?

Is the best way to get growth by personal invitation. (We all need to bring pilgrimage into our everyday conversation).

Why do we not do more traditional mailings by post? (Cost is a factor).

Why do we not print posters for parishes? (Cost is a factor).

Why are the 2022/23 posters expensive to print? (We will provide a printer friendly version next time).

Do posters work? (They are intended to signpost people to the website to get more information and book their time on pilgrimage. There is little evidence of posters found posted in halls we have visited. Getting a short note in the local newsletter can be more beneficial).

Do we tap into the Dioceses we will pass through? (The Diocese of Arundel & Brighton is in the ‘DNA’ of our ecumenical walking pilgrimage, but we need to target and reach out to others too, where we have been and plan to go).

Do we follow up and thank churches after our visit? (Yes we do).

Could we send out a 150 word text to parishes visited to invite them to join us and check our website for details? (A good suggestion, and for churches and chapels along the route and in the regions we intend to go next year, Also, churches can be asked by pilgrims to give a personal notice/invitation from the lectern at the end of church Mass/service).

Can we organise and coordinate outgoing messages? (Yes and we would like somebody to fill the vacant post of Communication & PR office at the AGM).

Should we change our format?

Should we plan for growth by using more popular routes? (We do consider all routes, popular, lost routes and new ones. Join us online at the AGM on 24 September to see where in England and Wales we might be walking in 2024).

Is 17 miles a day walking too long for many? (It can be for some, and we strive to aim for 15 miles or less. In reality the location of appropriate accommodation can dictate the length of the day’s walk. In most circumstances there is public transport if you wish to walk a half-day or miss out a day altogether).

Would we consider a shorter annual pilgrimage of say 7-10 days? (Yes, we will. But that’s also available now, simply book for a day or stay any time with us from 1-15 nights).

One week away walking is more easy to book early in the calendar than two weeks, with family and other commitments. (You can book one week now, but we also get the idea that a shorter pilgrimage might be attractive to more pilgrims).

Why do we choose August for our two-week walking pilgrimage? (We often are able to take advantage of schools offering hall accommodation in the summer. We avoid the busy time of Easter).

Why do we not do one day walks? (Our Southampton to Rye pilgrimage 2021 was a successful series of day walks without overnight accommodation, and we have also had mini-pilgrimage walks with overnight accommodation for those wishing to reunite for a shorter time. These mini-pilgrimages are usually organised by volunteers, and we hope to announce one for later this year, but would you be willing to organise one another time?).

Will a shorter trip be more expensive? (Our wholly not-for-profit pilgrimage is based on the expectation of adequate numbers joining the pilgrimage for the full duration to offset the cost of planning, hiring halls, preparing meals; and also vans hired for cooking equipment, supplies, and forward luggage facility. Pilgrims booking longer stays helps meeting costs, and we have a range of booking options for shorter stays. We also have a grant available for young persons joining us).

Should we encourage sleeping in their own tents? (No, but we have organised large tents recently for our community where built accommodation cannot be found in rural areas).

Can we research hostels and B&Bs for those wanting R&R from walking? (The idea needs a team member to research, can you help in one of our accommodation teams planning for next year?).

Are we encouraging new and younger walkers?

Should we encourage new young pilgrims to come and join us for a short stay. (We do and recognise not all young people attend church. We have contacted universities as well as churches).

In the early years the pilgrimage was popular with younger walkers because it was a fun holiday in a safe environment, for those happy to sleep on the floor but not always engaging in the spiritual journey. (Sleeping on the floor is not so popular in all ages, ‘indoor camping’ has improved the experience, but there are B&B options in places we pass through if that suits you. We are an ecumenical Christian community of the Roman Catholic Church with other Christian denominations, and we welcome non-church walkers not yet ready to begin their journey of faith).

Younger people are not so keen to walk on a pilgrimage, but where are the 25-40 year olds? (We have a few young people with us who might encourage their friends, and to accommodate groups we will need a larger supervision team. Do you have the necessary safeguarding skills? We think post university and ‘empty nesters’ might be encouraged more, but can you also help us get the invitation messages out?).

Do we need community youth-worker connections to grow the pilgrimage? (We contacted all university chaplains in England and Wales this year, with posters linking to our website. We need to do more and send 150 word texts to make passing the message on easier).

Can Instagram be a way of connecting new and younger people? We think so, but can you also share these messages with your friends on your preferred social network app?

Are we linking up with other walking groups?

Could we publish in ‘Ramblers’ to link up with those wanting to walk with us for charity causes? (We can look into this suggestion).

Could we also consider linking with the ‘Christian Walking Club’, ‘Walk for Christian Aid’ and other fundraising ventures? (We can look into this suggestion).

What help is needed?

How can I get involved with the 2024 pilgrimage? (Come and join us at the AGM on 24 September or contact us through Contact the Pilgrims! | Pilgrims Live!

Is help required for finding accommodation and Booking of halls? (Yes, part of the team is stepping down and we need your support).

Why do we need cooking equipment? (For preparing pilgrims breakfast, packed lunch and evening cooked meal. Our equipment is taken to pilgrimage each year, and we need a second van for transport. A volunteer oversees the storage of equipment, and over the years we have amassed a large quantity of equipment which needs review. Is this something you can help with?).

How do I join the team? (Contact the Pilgrims! | Pilgrims Live! and let us know you are interested. We can then talk it through with you and find out what suits you, what is needed and provide you with support, shadowing, etc. You can see all the roles in our AGM Agenda on Latest News | Pilgrims Live!).

And finally,

As a recent newcomer, why did I not learn about our pilgrimage earlier? (Hmm…?)

Our special pilgrimage needs to continue. (Amen).

The discussion closed about 6.30pm with thanks to all contributors, and in short prayer.