The second day was promising to be warm! The eight expected pilgrims met up again at the Scaling Dam Centre. The paths were dry and found to be where the book said they would be. We ascended to the top of Beacon Hill (with wonderful views north, south, east and west) and paused for a photo-opportunity. Downhill to Danby, making good time so that we arrived at Danby Church in time for a very welcome cup of tea from the welcoming people at Danby.
Once there we met up with four more pilgrims led by Paul Rathbone, who had followed down the hill from the Beacon and eventually caught up with us. They remained with us a short while longer and eventually we made it back across the River Esk only to be caught by a talking statue who lectured on the fish to be found in the river. The Moors Centre at Danby were selling welcome refreshments and we finished our second stage at the centre with prayer.
The Pilgrimage began at 11am at St Hilda’s Hinderwell.New Archdeacon Samantha was there as well as the Bishop of Whitby, Paul and Rural Dean, Barry. Bishop Paul reminded us of the great legacy left to us by St Hilda and urged us to think of the legacy we would leave for future generations ….. as well as a lot of other important stuff. The service was meant to be outside by the side of Hilda’s well, but rain stopped play and we had to be inside with some well water for the renewal of our Baptism Vows. However the sun came out in time for the blessing of the new ‘St Hilda’s Way’ and the rousing strains of ‘Guide me O Thou great Redeemer.’ We could also have our picnic by the well before having a photo shoot of all 29 people who
had come to start this new footpath off to a great start. The setting off was in sunshine. The grass and trees verdant and everyone in good spirits. Some found the going more difficult than others, which is always the case in the pilgrimage through life, but the group of pilgrims good humouredly waited, ate, chatted and generally seemed to have a good time.
We arrived at Scaling dam in quite a breeze but managed to pray the pilgrimage prayer at the end of the day before departing to eat and rest. As the next day is a Monday our numbers tomorrow is expected to be rather less than today.
This week we have received hot off the press, the copies of ‘Walking St Hilda’s Way’. The book will be available from TIC in Whitby, Scarborough and Filey, from churches in the Whitby area, from the NY Moors Centre at Danby and the Gateway Centre at Staithes. Hopefully there will be some Media interest and we are getting all geared up for the Launch on 28th June – 3rd July. We have been very pleased that those who have seen it appear to like it and it only costs £5 with profits going to Christian Aid and the Whitby Churches Mission Fund.
Soon the book will be available online at Amazon, so keep looking.
We have made it to Carlisle and been welcomed at the cathedral by the Dean and Canon Warden Jan. We had a very good Evensong at the cathedral, the girls’ choir sang superbly well and it felt a fitting climax to the walk. Just so you cannot say we have not done a ‘Corner to Corner’ we did manage to stagger northwards and cross the border to Gretna Green the day after by the shortest (though safest) route.
Thank you to those we met yesterday – Kathie and Alice whom we met on our final mile; Carrie and Alex who walked with us along the main shopping street; Senga (who took a photo for us) at the Cathedral; Angela and Alan (who also took a photo); at the Cathedral Judith and Kath; at the shop in the Cathedral Irene and Barry. From today’s walk, Campbell and Alison (Christian Aid workers for the Annan district); another Alan who took our final photo at the border; and also Hi to Julian at the ‘News and Star’ in Carlisle.
Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog.
Final Statistics for those who might be interested in such things
Miles to Carlisle Cathedral 609 to the Scottish border 620
(John has re-checked all the mileage and now makes it 623.4 miles which is a tiny bit over 1000 km – he is dead chuffed!)
Total number of kissing gates 304
Scrabble games won Nancy 20 John 20 Draws 3 (one real and 2 stalemates)
Amount raised to date Online £1158 Offline £ 2950.05 Total £4108.05
Recognised Footpaths used
North Downs Way
Grand Union Canal Walk
Oxford Greenbelt Way
Heart of England Way
North Cheshire Way
Cheshire Ring Canal walk
Breath of Fresh Air Path
Lancashire Coastal Path
C2C cycle Way
Grand Union Canal
Weaver Navigation Canal
Trent and Mersey Canal
Cathedrals, Abbeys and churches
St Mary the Virgin, Hastingleigh
St Luke Charlton
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Mark’s Dedworth
Christchurch Oxford Cathedral
Wesley Memorial Chapel Oxford
St Mary Magdalene’s West Knighton
Wesley Church Chester
St Andrew’s Longton
St Mark’s Burscough
St Mark’s Natland
Border Kirk Carlisle
Our route towards Carlisle over the past few days, has been in two halves.
The first half was the ascent and descent over Shap. We mostly followed the Miller’s Way, which was named after John Carr who traversed this route to Carlisle before starting his factory manufacturing Carr’s Water biscuits. The majority of the Way is well marked, stony and wide and very reminiscent of the West Highland Way. The path is never very far away from the A6 and towards Shap the railway line surprisingly makes an appearance. The hills are majestic though seemed, to us, a little bleak as the skies were overcast. On the way down we followed the River Lowther. As wet approached Penrith we entered the grand Lowther estate founded by Sir Hugh de Louther in 1283. This contains a fairytale castle, its own estate church and family Mausoleum and acres of parkland. The castle and estate is now open to the public and very nice it is too. The most famous Earl of Lowther was another Hugh (1857-1944) who was known as the ‘yellow earl’. Yellow was the colour of the Lowther flag and all his carriages and cars were yellow. He was the first president of the AA giving them the distinctive yellow colour.
The second half of our journey took in the Eden valley. As we were blessed with sunshine, the contrast with the bleakness of the Shap hills was immediate. Part of our path was by the side of the river and we passed Lacy’s caves. These are artificial caves 6-chambered inter-linked, excavated by Lt Col Samuel Lacy in the eighteenth century. One idea (given to us by a fellow sight-seer) was that he paid someone to dress up as a cave man to startle his guests. Another idea was as an entertainment venue. A third was as a wine store. Whatever their original use they are certainly well worth a visit. Further along, the route passes through bluebell woods and for us, was boggy.
Last Sunday we were very well received by the congregation of the Border Kirk (in Carlisle, even though we had not yet walked to Carlisle) They were having one of their thrice yearly Communion services for Easter, and we felt very privileged to share in the worship with them. Their minister David Pitkeathley, was most welcoming, Janice looked after us very well and the congregation very generous in their support of the project. We came away feeling uplifted and ready for the last week of walking.
As always many people have encouraged us on our way, stopping and talking with us and giving us donations. So Hi to Peter the probation officer who helped us out with a lift from Shap; Peter we met on Kendal station; Paul and Sheena met in Lowther caravan site; Darren, Adam and Ian who gave us a rousing cheer near Maybergh Henge; Jan in Penrith near the bus station; Sarah from Ravenbridge met at Langwathby bridge; Paul the postie also met at Langwathby; Jim and Peter (St Helen’s Ramblers) and Mandy, Clare and Rosie, Lucy and Peter all met at Lacy’s caves; Anne and Jane in Kirkoswald village shop; Frances walking her dog in Coombs Woods; Gary and Christine (with the bike) all met on the Settle to Carlisle train; Terence, who rescued us when the train had failed; Pat and Jean the walkers met near Wethereal. Thank you to each and every one of you, for giving us encouragement and interest.
This week’s statistics
Amount raised so far Online £883 Offline £ 2928.05 Total £3811.05 (we have had more promised but cannot count it yet!)
Miles walked this week 60 total so far 608
Kissing gates 18
This week’s Scrabble Scores Nancy 3 John 1
The Lancaster canal has been our companion, on and off, for much of this week. This is a canal which was built to link the coalfields near Wigan with the limestone quarries at Lancaster and Kendal. Because of its cargoes, it became known as the black and white canal. It was designed by a man called John Rennie and has no locks at all between Tewitsfield (just north of Lancaster) and Preston. This means that aqueducts carry the water across depressions in the land like the one caused by the River Lune. We followed the Lune to the aqueduct and then climbed up to view the river from the top. Most impressive.
Lancaster is also the home of the ‘centroid’ of the UK. This is the central point of our country (including all the islands and Northern Ireland) This point is very near to the Ashton Memorial, built by a wealthy industrial magnate in the Georgian era. From this high point, on a good day, you are supposed to be able to see Blackpool Tower. Its was very hazy when we were there – not really worth the photo from the top.
The canal took us to Hest Bank and the Lancashire coastal path. This coastal path over looks the dangerous sands of Morecambe Bay where the unwary can be drowned in quicksands. Needless to say we did not venture forth.
Once we reached Tewitsfield, the canal could no longer be used by boats, but the tow path continues on and off all the way to Kendal. Waterfalls cascade down the locks, and further on, there are lonely bridges shorn of their purpose. It seems odd to think of all that endeavour going into the canal, then the heyday, the decline and finally the land being re-used by sheep. There are plans afoot to reclaim the canal along this northern stretch, but it will take a lot of work and money.
So, canal walking is now at an end – the hills beckon!
On Easter day we were greatly welcomed to a beautifully decorated church of St Mark’s church Natland, They were most generous in their support. Thank you Angela their vicar (excellent Easter Day service) to Martin and Elspeth, who fed us sumptuously afterwards. Hello, too, to others who met us on our route and gave us their time and interest. Hi to Faith, met a Garstang; Deborah, Alison, Sophie, John and twins Sam and Ruby (also met a Garstang); Tim and Avril on their boat ‘Have Time’; Carol and David on their boat ‘No Problem’; Joe, Jane and Clare at the Stork Hotel near Glasson; Gemma and Cameron cycling on the path to Lancaster; Marion (who is looking for a challenge for her 60th birthday – do try a long distance path Marion- Kris (from Canada and Ruth met on the Lancashire Coastal path; Barry, Yvonne and Sonnie on the Lancaster Canal path; Bob who walked with us and Lesley his wife; David running; and Neil met by the River Kent in Kendal. Thank you all.
This week’s statistics
Amount raised so far Online £785 Offline £2666.05 Total £3451.05
Miles walked this week 54 total so far 554.5
Kissing gates 6
This week’s Scrabble Scores Nancy 1 John 2
Easter Eggs (John) 3 small ones
Cumberland ham and eggs 2 portions
Our walking this week has been dominated by the water systems of what was once all Lancashire, but now has been divided into two metropolitan counties and one ‘normal’ county. We crossed over the Manchester Ship Canal last weekend and continued to try to work out which waterway we were following as we progressed sometimes north, sometimes east and sometimes west! As one of the heartlands of the Industrial Revolution, Lancashire became well endowed with canals to get raw materials to the factories, and manufactured goods to Liverpool for export. The paths alongside are flat and easy to walk along and not get lost, but the mind boggles at the amount of work they would have taken to construct and the devastation to the landscape they, and the industries they served, brought in their train.
On Sunday we received a wonderful welcome from Christchurch Aughton near Ormskirk. John knew Jeff from his scouting days and also the vicar Ross from school days. The congregation seemed to enjoy John’s Palm Sunday sermon illustrated with chocolate cake and the church were most supportive. Thank you Jeff and Ann for a lovely Sunday lunch and Ross and the church for all your encouragement.
On Monday we walked to Wigan – famous for its pier. On the way we came through Pennington Flash. This was an area heavily mined for coal, so much so that the land subsided quite steeply on the south side of the canal. The hollows filled with water or ‘flash’. Now the mines have closed the lakes are now being reclaimed for nature and recreation and are extremely attractive. They are well used by the local population for walking and cycling as well as observing the birds which have colonised the lakes. In the country park at Pennington Flash, we met Norman and his two dogs. One was called Lottie and she was remarkable. She could understand a number spoken to her between 5 and 10 and count by barking that number. She could also do other tricks and we were most entertained watching her.
After Pennington we joined the Leeds Liverpool canal path and walked along it to Wigan and saw the famous pier. It seemed very small, but information boards filled us in on the past workings of the bargemen, miners and the lasses. The canal has recovered from the devastation of the past and provides a most attractive way through to Burscough where the Rufford arm turned us north so we could follow the Douglas River as far as Tarleton, through the very flat farming countryside.
As always we have met some very interesting people who have shared something of their stories, or listened to some of ours or given us donations. So this weeks ‘Hellos!’ go to all those met in Pennington Flash country park – Norman, David, Beverley, Tony and Ryan; to David and Jenny walking by the Leeds Liverpool canal who described how it used to look, to Terry and Peter and Dawn and Gary met near Parbold, Janet and Granville at Lathom; Laurie and her story of perseverance and courage met near Much Hoole, Katrina on the Ribble Way; Tony met on the canal at Bilsborrow and Andrew and all the congregation met when we joined them for the Maundy Thursday service at St Andrew’s Longton especially all the Christian Aid committee members, treasurer Richard, Cath who made us most welcome and gave us a lovely tea (northern style) and her daughter Karen and granddaughters Elsa and Agatha. Thank you too to Elaine who runs the Martin Farm cottages and who did our washing in her machine. Martin Farm Burscough is a good place to stay. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.
This week’s statistics
Amount raised so far Online £705 Offline £2193.05 Total £2898.05
Miles walked this week 60 total so far 500.5
Kissing gates 19
This week’s Scrabble Scores Nancy 3 John 1
Lancashire cheese 300 g
This last week we have definitely moved region, heard the scouse accent lots of times and begin to feel we are in the North of England. Our route through much of Cheshire has been along the Sandstone Trail. Cheshire is divided into east and west by a sandstone ridge. A trail along that ridge has been formed which runs for 34 miles from Whitchurch to Frodsham. The first third of the trail is fields leading up to the ridge, but the rest provides some magnificent views over the surrounding countryside. One high point is the peak of Old Pale. This is in the Delamere Forest. It has a modern stone circle denoting which counties can be seen from this high point and how far away they are. Cheshire is given pride of place in the centre with the biggest stone – but the counties listed are Lancashire (9 miles) Yorkshire (40 miles) Derbyshire (28 miles) Staffs (17 miles) Shropshire (15 miles) Denbighshire (11 miles) Flintshire (10 miles). It was very exhilarating walking along with the Clwyddian hills and the Snowdon range on our left and the Pennine range on our left. The Dee estuary was prominent. Near the end of the walk, just above Frodsham is a wonderful view over the Mersey estuary – depicting all the industrial regions as well as the great expanse of estuary and countryside. Both Liverpool’s cathedrals were clearly visible. The path leading up to the view was also dramatic, weaving around great Old Red Sandstone outcrops.
In contrast to the ridge walking, we have also enjoyed the city of Chester. One of the street advertising boards drew in people laughing at the humour. Last Sunday, Wesley Methodist church gave us a great welcome. We had time to talk to their young people’s group during the service, they really seemed to take on board just how difficult things can be for women in some parts of the world. Hello there to Mark, Andrew, Vicky, Luke, Rebecca, Catherine and Mikey. Thank you for your support for us. Later in the week, Chester cathedral Evensong was our port of call with a visiting choir composed of Ruthin St Peter’s church and Dover Community church (the choir school having closed for the holidays). Thank you Edward, Canon Chris, Mary and Canon Peter and (who led the service) for your welcome and prayers – and to Chris and Barbara Humphries, who gave us great hospitality after the service.
Hello to Jean, the Triathlete looking very fit; to the United Utilities walking group; Irene (Christian Aid organiser) met in the Spar shop in Tarporley; to Gill and Hugo met near Fisher’s Green; the Wirral Ramblers on the Sandstone trail; Callum, Mikey and Grandad (not forgetting Rowley the dog); Mandy and Derek from Chester (hope we encouraged you to get long distance walking); the group from Whitchurch and Macclesfield; Ian from Frodsham who directed us most helpfully. Hi to Clifford (on holiday on a narrow boat); Janet and Tony (who offered us a lift – which we declined!); Irene from All Saints church Daresbury; Peter in the Ring o’Bells at Daresbury; Katy, Harriet and Lillian by the Bridgewater canal; Maura and Jim also by the canal; John at Stockton Heath; Elizabeth near Thelwall; Jonathon near Lymm training for the Mountain Marathon and Christine at the Warrington Interchange.
This week’s statistics
Amount raised so far Online £665 Offline £1728.55 Total £2393.55
Miles walked this week 45.5 so far 440.5
Kissing gates 56
Trig points 1
This week’s Scrabble Scores Nancy 0 John 3
Cheshire cheese 300 g