In May sixteen young people and eight adults from across the Yate and Fromeside Mission Area set off on a 62-mile pilgrimage walking from St Peter’s Frampton Cotterell to the Cathedral in Salisbury.
Each day of the pilgrimage began with breakfast followed by communion before we headed off singing our pilgrim song ‘We are marching in the light of God’. The day ended with an act of worship on the theme of the Fruits of the Spirit.
Day 1 - Frampton Cotterell to Wick (8.2 miles) Parents and friends of the pilgrims walked with us on the first leg of our journey from St Peter’s Church to Bitterwell Lake where we shared a picnic. After lunch we waved goodbye and walked across fields via Pucklechurch to Wick church hall for our first night’s stop where a kind parent provided us with a hot meal. We spent the evening getting to know each other, full of energy for playing games and running around.
Day 2 – Wick to Winsley (18 miles) This was by far the most arduous of days. First we headed over the hills into Bath where we had lunch in Victoria Park, then walked along the towpath to Winsley for our second night. During this day great friendships were built as we helped and encouraged each other along, helped by chocolate stops and a cold refreshing drink in a pub garden by the towpath!
The long walk tired us out, so the young people worshipped from their sleeping bags as we did a form of the Ignatian Examen!
Day 3 – Winsley to Dilton Marsh (11 miles) We began our third day with communion in St Nicholas Church. After a lunch stop in Rudge we continued to Dilton Marsh where we were bowled over by the generosity of the people who not only provided showers (in old shipping containers) but also cooked us breakfast the following morning. They had never had pilgrims in Dilton Marsh before! That evening we shared an agape meal which was an amazing experience for us all.
Day 4 – Dilton Marsh to Codford St Peter (12 miles) After breakfast we were joined in the church by Reverend Caroline for our communion service. We then headed to Sutton Veny and a leisurely lunch of baguettes and chips in the Woolpack pub. At the end of the day in Codford St Peter the young people still had enough energy to run about and write a song together, which they performed for us.
Day 5 – Codford St Peter to Salisbury (16 miles) Reverend Ian joined us for the home stretch. In order to finish the pilgrimage together the groups set off in a staggered start to ensure that we would all arrive together.
Our friends from Fromeside provided lunch at Wilton before the last leg of our journey. Imagine our delight when we spotted the spire of Salisbury Cathedral. We held our final act of worship in a side chapel, drank champagne from the chalice, and laid shells that we had carried from St Peter’s at the foot of the altar. With a great sense of achievement and joy we headed off to Pizza Hut for a celebration dinner. The pilgrims then caught the train from Salisbury back to Bristol Temple Meads – a much quicker journey!
What will the young people remember from the pilgrimage?
Chocolate, Malcolm singing to wake them each morning, camaraderie and mutual encouragement, the difficulty of the walk (particularly the blisters!) but also their walk with God as the day was punctuated with worship that became part of their rhythm of life.
Rev Gail Thomas, Curate, Parish of Yate