THREE pilgrimage routes linking ancient spiritual sites and churches in Devon have been launched as part of a new rural project.
The 39-mile Archangel Way, from St Michael’s, Brentor, perched high on its tor, crosses the remote landscape of north Dartmoor to end at St Michael’s, in Chagford. The less demanding 14.5-mile St Boniface Way links Crediton Parish Church to Exeter Cathedral; and the Sacred Waters Way offers eight individual pilgrim routes along the River Dart, from its source to the sea.
The routes are accompanied by reflections, which can be downloaded from the website devonpilgrim.org.uk. The project has been developed by Growing the Rural Church, which is funded by the Strategic Development Fund and the diocese of Exeter.
Each pilgrimage is divided into sections which begin and end at a church, allowing them to be walked over one or several days.
Each church along the route will offer a “pilgrim corner” with prayers and meditations for walkers, as well as a pilgrim stamp to mark their progress on specially designed Pilgrim Passports.
The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Revd Robert Atwell, said: “We associate pilgrimage with the medieval world, but, in our generation, we have rediscovered its grace. People of all backgrounds are walking the ancient paths, and, in so doing, entering upon a journey of the heart. Many of them are discovering that God walks with them in their life.”
There are plans to develop more Devon Pilgrim routes, and to incorporate existing pilgrimage routes in the county. “This is a chance for churches along the routes to offer a Christian perspective on pilgrimage,” the manager of Growing the Rural Church, Sarah Cracknell, said.
“People might not want to go to traditional Sunday services, but maybe a guided pilgrimage walk, a meditation, and some gentle introduction to prayer is actually what they are seeking.”