Virtual pilgrimage UPDATE

DAY 24


We have accomplished 191.13 miles today, which is more than enough to complete our journey back to Nottingham a week early! We have covered 4000 miles, travelled through a variety of places, and raised £1585 so far on Justgiving (and as I know there are donations coming in, I think we can be confident that the church has raised somewhere in the region of £2000 for Christian Aid this year).


The first stge of our journey today takes us from Hunstanton to Walsingham (19.7 miles) and completes another leg of our pilgrimage.



Walsingham has been a place of pilgrimage since the 11th C, since Richeldis de Faverches had a vision in which the Virgin Mary instructed her to build a replica of the house of the Holy Family in Nazareth in honour of the Annunciation. It was an important place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, with relics including a vial of the Virgin’s milk. Even into the Tudor period it was significant: Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn both made pilgrimages there, as did Erasmus. The shrine was dismantled in 1537, with the connivance of its prior, who received a pension for his collusion. The shrine was then in abeyance until the 20th C, when a new statue arrived with papal blessing. Since then, the shrine has grown, and now has both Catholic and Anglican shrines, and even an Orthodox presence.

Graham and Catherine visited today:


At the Slipper Chapel…

they elected not to walk the last mile barefoot.

At the Anglican Shrine Church, they were surprised not to find any of you – so assumed you all made an earlier start than them!


Inside the elaborately decorated Shrine Church is the reconstruction of the Holy House…

and, within that, is the image of Our Lady of Walsingham. For more details on the shrines see here: and here:


Outside, the garden with the Stations of the Cross is very peaceful.


From Walsingham to Ely, via Swaffham (50.2 miles):
Swaffham is one of the many locations for The Man Who Became Rich through a Dream folk tale (Aarne-Thompson type 1645). In this version,  a pedlar from Swaffham who dreamed for several consecutive nights that if he waited on London Bridge he would eventually hear good news. He travelled to London, and waited for several days on the bridge. Eventually a shopkeeper asked him why he was waiting, and the man told of his dream. The shopkeeper laughed, and replied that he often dreamed that if he went to a certain orchard in Swaffham and started digging, he would find buried treasure. The pedlar returned to Swaffham, and found the treasure. The church is also very elegant, with late medieval carvings and a chestnut roof. However, shareable photos are hard to find, so if you’d like to know more, follow this link:


On to Ely, another cathedral city: here the cathedral arrived before the town. It was founded by Etheldreda (also known as Audrey), daughter of Anna, king of East Anglia in 673, after two celibate marriages. When her second husband Egfrith wished to consummate their marriage, she left him and became a nun under her aunt Ebbe at Coldingham, and then went on to found a double monastery (men and women) on the Isle of Ely, which was her dowry. Etheldreda’s foundation was destroyed by the Danes some 200 years later, and refounded as a Benedictine house in 970. Etheldreda had a shrine in Ely, destroyed in 1541, when the Benedictine house was disbanded and the church refounded as an Anglican cathedral. The current building took 116 years to complete – not even William the Conqueror could make it go faster. Like so many other buildings we’ve visited, George GIlbert Scott helped restore it in the 19th C. If you’d like to join worship here remotely, the services can be found on the cathedral’s YouTube channel: The poet Wendy Cope is among Ely’s current inhabitants: here is her poem celebrating the first decade of women priests in the Church of England:


Here are Jim W’s photos from a recent visit:



Ely to Cambridge (21.2 miles).
From Ely we need to travel to Cambridge, it seems only fair having been to Oxford (it was easier for Cromwell to have the monarch executed than it was to found a third university at Durham). The area around Cambridge has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and appears in Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Viking accounts. The oldest surviving college is Peterhouse (founded 1284) but some of the best known colleges are later foundations, notably Kings College, whose chapel was started by Henry VI, finished in the reign of Henry VIII and now features on Cambridge City Council’s logo.


Photo by Jose Llamas on Unsplash.


If you’d like to listen to King’s College Choir, try here: Cambridge University Library is a copyright library, which also has open shelves: this is a swots’ paradise. Most elegant is the Wren Library in Trinity College, although the urgent instruction for readers not to lick their fingers was slightly alarming.


Cambridge is also the location of Westminster College, the training college for the URC:


From Cambridge on to Rutland Water (55.9 miles) – an opportunity for water sports and walking. This is the reservoir in England with the largest surface area, although Kielder Water has a larger capacity. It was first flooded in 1976.

Here is Normanton church, which survived the flooding of the reservoir:

Photo by Karen Cann on Unsplash


Rutland Water to Oakham (6 miles) is a small distance:
Oakham is the county town for Rutland, which has yet another church renovated by George Gilbert Scott (All Saints). The town also has a curious custom with horseshoes:  members of royalty and peers of the realm who visited or passed through the town had to pay a forfeit in the form of a horseshoe. This unique custom has been enforced for over 500 years, but nowadays it only happens on special occasions (such as royal visits), when an outsize ceremonial horseshoe, specially made and decorated, is hung in the great hall of the castle. There are now over 200 of these commemorative shoes on its walls. Not all are dated and some of the earliest (which would doubtless have been ordinary horseshoes given without ceremony by exasperated noblemen) may not have survived. The earliest datable one is an outsize example commemorating a visit by King Edward IV in about 1470. The horseshoes hang with the ends pointing down; while this is generally held to be unlucky, in Rutland this was thought to stop the Devil from sitting in the hollow. The horseshoe motif appears in the county council’s arms and on Ruddles beer labels. Recent horseshoes commemorate visits by Princess Anne (1999), Prince Charles (2003) and Princess Alexandra (2005).[8]


Oakham to Nottingham (31.7 miles) This is our final destination! Well done everyone!


Here is Christian Aid’s prayer for this week:

God of Pentecost,
renew your spirit within us
so we may show your love to one another
and see your kingdom come. Amen.



Thank you for your commitment and contributions!





Read about our whole journey so far on our Vitual Pilgrims’ Progress pages.