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London to Walsingham Camino - The Pilgrimage Guide

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St Peter and St Paul, Fakenham (pilgrim stamp) or St Anthony’s Catholic church, Fakenham (both tbc) To remedy that, the Confraternity is working with Andy Bull, author of Pilgrim Pathways, to identify the old route and develop a modern pilgrim path that is as faithful to it as possible, while also giving a fulfilling walking experience. We were welcomed at many points along the way. Many of the 22 churches in which we have placed pilgrim stamps invited us to join them for Morning or Evening Prayer, for Mass and – on one memorable occasion, in the village of Withersfield – the most enchanting Evensong I have ever experienced. The village choir was accompanied on a homely squeeze-box like organ and afterwards the vicar, Max Drinkwater, joined us for pilgrim supper at the village inn, the White Horse, where we were staying. I shall be staying with Jim Sollars, a member of the British Pilgrimage Trust, who lives in the village. He has two or three additional spaces. Please let me know if you’d like to stay with Jim. One of the great joys for me, a Catholic, was to discovered the beauty of Anglican Morning and Evening Prayer. They read like meditations, and we started and ended most of our days with them.

Walsingham was by far the most important pilgrim shrine in England until Henry VIII outlawed pilgrimage and the veneration of saints in 1538. It was much more popular than Canterbury. Norwich to Walsingham – 36 miles, 3 days (Google Map Blue Line). Starting at Norwich Cathedral you soon have the Shrine of St Julian, a female mystic of great literary influence, embedded within a city of thirty medieval churches. Perhaps unsurprisingly in the county of Walsingham, there is evidence of a powerful female spirituality not only related to Mary but also St Anne, St Margaret, St Catherine, St Birgitte of Sweden and the writer Margery Kempe. Much of the route to Walsingham passes through the valley of the River Wensum, an region of unassuming beauty. Around the Snoring villages are stretches of high, grain-growing plateau with huge skies, and then you have the wooded valley of the Stiffkey. There are vistas of unenclosed valleys which have changed little since earlier times.

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London to Walsingham Camino guidebook is a full colour guide to walking the re-established pilgrimage route from the Church of St Magnus the Martyr, with its shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham to the Anglican and Catholic shrines at Walsingham in Norfolk. Walking each day set up a rhythm in which the awareness of being a pilgrim grew. As day followed day, the ordinary, everyday world and my life in it shrank in significance, and the life of the spirit and the joyful sense of communal endeavour grew ever stronger.

The Foundation, at 2 Butcher Row, London E14 8DS, which has been caring for pilgrims and others since 1174, is the London to Walsingham Camino accommodation partner in London.But when I told the many people we met along the way that this was a pilgrimage I got a fair few blank looks. Yet, if I said this was a Camino, ‘like they have in Spain’, I almost always got nods of recognition. Often they knew of the film, The Way, in which a character played by Martin Sheen walks to the shrine of St James in Santiago, in honour of a son who died on the eve of his own Camino journey. Something significant occurred in a number of those pubs. Sarah wore her collar at all times. I had wondered how people would react to it, but the reception couldn’t have been friendlier. In several they thought they were meeting the vicar (for the first time, given hardly any of them went to church) and came over to chat. One local asked Sarah if she was a Catholic priest. Another, who was completely unchurched, began in a challenging vein, a sort of ‘what’s it all about then’, but then spoke movingly of his life, his fears and his challenges. You got the sense that he might just pop into a church for the first time in his life, after this. The London to Walsingham Camino guidebook is part of an attempt to change that: to re-establish a walking route which, while being as true to the original way as possible, takes account of the modern realities on the ground. A pilgrim path that offers a wonderful long-distance route, on footpaths and quiet lanes, across the glorious east of England. A truly pleasurable and uplifting walking experience.

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