Bishop Paul launches Northern Saints Trails
By Trevor Brookes - Editor
THE Bishop of Durham launched the Northern Saints Trails with an inaugural pilgrimage service on Palm Sunday at Gainford village green.
Then on Monday, Bishop Paul Butler started the first pilgrim walk from the village church at 9.30am.
Only the bishop, his wife, Rosemary, and David Pott, the pilgrimage route co-ordinator, began walking the route, accompanied by a maximum of three people, keeping to a strict Covid-19 secure format.
They will trek all the way to the shrine of St Cuthbert at Durham Cathedral.
The pilgrimage route from Gainford is called The Way of Light and is one of six such walks.
From Gainford, it passes through Headlam, Ingleton and West Auckland as it heads towards Bishop Auckland and then Durham.
The six Northern Saints Trails are based on ancient pilgrimage routes and portray the region’s saints and their stories, set against a backdrop of the North East’s attractions, landscapes, places to eat, drink and stay.
The fact that the individual routes are called “ways” is said to have a particular resonance for Christians because in earlier times the Christian faith was referred to as “the way”.
Bishop Paul said: “I think the big thing is it encourages people to take a bit of time-out. To walk, to discover things about themselves, about other people, about communities but above all about God.
“So for me, walking these routes is a means by which people have an opportunity to spend some time discovering the living God as they discover themselves and the people around them. One of the things I love about the new routes is that they are short enough for a large number of people to do them.
“We’re also going to work on ways of sharing in those walks even if you can’t do them – that’s the next stage for us.”
The walks were due to be launched last year but Covid-19 led to the plans being postponed. The Palm Sunday service will take place on Gainford green at 3pm and will be live-streamed at www.facebook.com/durhamdiocese