Inside, Outside, Ely

The one-day pilgrimage from Littleport to Ely was, for the most part, straight and clear, the path raised high above a canalised section of the Cam. One of the waterways which once carried goods to and from the Isle of Ely, on this day it carried only two boats of coxless fours and their coach … Continue reading Inside, Outside, Ely

Virtually There

On Wednesday, with the help of a little technology, my friend Richard and I made a virtual pilgrimage from Croyde Bay in Devon, around (the contrarily named) Baggy Point and with the air clear and bright over the sea, we were able to see out to Lundy Island, that finger of granite in the Atlantic that points up … Continue reading Virtually There

City Centre Sanctuary

The atmosphere of many grand or old buildings can be cold and austere, but Wakefield Cathedral, which is both old and grand, embraces the visitor as soon as they step through the door. A labyrinth set into the recently re-laid stone floor is an invitation to enter a different frame of mind: the act of … Continue reading City Centre Sanctuary

Gone for a Burton

During the research for my forthcoming book We are Pilgrims one of the most intense weeks was spent amongst the letters, lectures and published works of the explorer, linguist, ethnographer and spy, Sir Richard Francis Burton. Of particular interest was what led him to travel to Mecca disguised as a pilgrim.  His covert participation in the Hajj convoy … Continue reading Gone for a Burton

Feast and Famine

It shows enormous political confidence to build a cathedral; a declaration of the strength of the church, now and for tomorrow. ( We are richly blessed with over 40 English Cathedrals) And even during the decades of building and carving and embellishing, the construction of a cathedral serves an immediate social and economic purpose, raising … Continue reading Feast and Famine

The Glass Bead Game

Sliding up the Suffolk coast and across the fenlands to Norwich on a cold and blustery Monday, my friend Angie was sceptical about walking the one-day BPT pilgrimage from Caistor St Edmund church to the cathedral. “Norfolk has been ruined by roads” she said, so, as friends do, we compromised. Our drive (via the ruinous roads) to and from Norwich … Continue reading The Glass Bead Game

The Power of Song

This week I spent a day walking and talking with Will Parsons, co-founder of the British Pilgrimage Trust and intrepid explorer into that rich spiritual world which lies beyond the surface of any pilgrim path. It was a transcendent experience. Our day’s journey began in the misty morning amongst the yew trees of St Mary’s churchyard, Patrixbourne … Continue reading The Power of Song

Through a Glass Darkly

Stained glass in cathedrals and churches can bring a special light and aliveness into the cool quiet interiors of churches and cathedrals, as well as signalling that the people of the ‘parish’ were, at the time these artworks were commissioned, wealthy enough to pay for their design and installation. Cologne (or Koln) Cathedral is one … Continue reading Through a Glass Darkly

Drought and Deluge

As weather folklore tells us, if it rains on St Swithin’s day ( July 15th ) it will rain for 40 days after. Well in July 2019 it did just that and it’s been raining here ever since. For many of us the persistent precipitation just adds to the metaphorical storm clouds that hung over our … Continue reading Drought and Deluge

Love, Actually

Pilgrimage is a ritual journey which carries with it our hopes, beliefs and much more and while few of us are tramping the old ways on New Year’s Day, many of us will have engaged in some sort of ritual behaviour over the holidays which expresses these same feelings. Lighting Hanukah candles, leaving biscuits out … Continue reading Love, Actually