May they find joy and hope

The Bishop of Norwich, The Rt Revd Graham Usher, said:

“I walked the Walsingham Way last year at the end of the first lockdown.

see the earlier post

As I walked the lanes and fields of Norfolk there was an inner unwinding from the tensions of the pandemic. As I approached Walsingham I was conscious that I was in step with countless others through history, singing with Mary that ‘my spirit rejoices in God’. I hope that many people will put on their walking shoes and set out. May this new pilgrim route help them find joy and hope.’”

Feast of Julian of Norwich

On this wet and windy 8th May thoughts of a summer pilgrimage come to mind.

……….. the Wherryman’s Way may be walked as a pilgrim path in its own right, tracing Christianity’s development from 7th Century mission stations on the coast to the modern cathedral city Mother Julian called home.

And it can be undertaken on the water by boat….

During Lockdown

We look forward to welcoming visitors to the Walsingham Way when it is safe to travel. For the time being:

Stay Home – Protect the NHS – Save Lives

In the meantime use these pages to travel in heart and mind, through the heart of Norfolk, to England’s Nazareth. A warm welcome awaits. For the time being stay local, keep safe and discover pilgrim paths where you live. Are there places you can walk in or to?

  • Of personal, local, or national historical importance.
  • To “Consider the birds of the air and the flowers of the field’;
  • Walk by the waterside
  • Somewhere above the hurlyburly.
  • Perhaps, with a view.
  • To watch the sunrise and set,
  • Or contemplate the night sky,
  • That give a perspective on life.
  • Where prayer has been valid’
  • Thin places that bring you close to the mystery some call God.
Here’s some Norfolk Pilgrim made earlier

St. Fursey (of Burgh Castle?)

Fursey was an Irish saint and visionary, mentioned by Ven. Bede, who left  hearth and home to become a perpetual pilgrim for the love of God. Fursey was one of the earliest Christian missionaries in East Anglia.  The site of his monastery/mission station is disputed, but he associated with the Roman fort of Burgh Castle, on the banks of the River Waveney on the south side of the marshes that surround Breydon Water.

Leaving others to continue the mission in the Kingdom of East Anglia, Fursey travelled to France and established a monastery at Peronne where he was buried.
Dr. Nick Groves’ translation of his life is available online –   Fursey’s Vita  . You can discover more about St. Fursey at  Fursey Pilgrims 

The walls of the Roman fort at Burgh Castle, once a thriving 8th Century minster, can be seen from the Walsingham Way as pilgrims pass the Berney Arms.

Fellow pilgrims may find Fursey’s lorica a help as they journey on:

The arms of God be around my shoulders
The touch of the Holy Spirit upon my head,
The sign of Christ’s cross upon my forehead,
The sound of the Holy Spirit in my ears,
The fragrance of the Holy Spirit in my nostrils,
The vision of heaven’s company in my eyes,
The conversation of heaven’s company on my lips,
The work of God’s church in my hands,
The service of God and the neighbour in my feet,
A home for God in my heart,
And to God, the Father of all,
my entire being. Amen

Progress to Report

As I write, the finger posts and signs are in production. We fully expect our long held aspiration – to create a safe, walker friendly, waymarked, pilgrim’s route between the Medieval City of Norwich and the shrine at Walsingham, 37 miles through beautiful, unspoilt, Norfolk countryside – will be a reality on the ground for the Spring and Summer of 2021.

Before any formal launch in the Spring, this blog site will step down to allow space for a new Walsingham Way website. In the future, the new site will provide the central unchanging content and this site on-going copy. Including details of other Norfolk pilgrim routes.

Among them a leg between Great Yarmouth and Norwich extending the Walsingham Way to the East Coast. In 2019 the Walsinghasm Way project added a layer of interpretation to the already existing Wherryman’s Way and a small section of the Angles Way, to create a pilgrim route we named – The Norfolk Saints Way. *

The Norfolk Saints Way

There maybe other routes too. During the past summer, ideas about a St. Withburgh Trail, linking Dereham with Holkham via Walsingham created some interest. In an update in March 2020, Rev’d Canon Peter Doll our projects leader, wrote about others working with “the Cathedral and the Walsingham Shrines to develop routes from other directions”; among them ” a ecumenical group in King’s Lynn and another looking at a route from Canterbury to Walsingham via Tilbury.

* During the winter we will aim to migrate important information on the temporary Norfolk Saints Way to this site.

A Green Destination for Green Pilgrimage

For many the must have element of a pilgrimage is walking through nature. For such people, it can be better to travel than to arrive. Church buildings and rituals get in their way, rather than helping their exploration of the holy.

Walsingham provides an alternative – the Abbey Grounds. The ruins of the abbey, suppressed in 1538, are set in gardens where a qietly flowing chalk stream divides the formal from the informal. Beyond the stream, there are woodland walks, bird song fills the air and in early spring it is Snow Drop heaven.