Pilgrimage walks are launched
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
FOUR new pilgrimage walks, designed to boost tourism, are to be inaugurated at Gainford in a special celebration ceremony in April.
The Northern Saints Trails comprise four routes that have been devised by Visit County Durham in conjunction with Durham Cathedral and aim to rival similar treks in northern Spain and will be launched in what has been designated the county’s Year of Pilgrimage.
The Gainford route, The Way of Life, will start at St Mary’s Well, taking in Ingleton, West Auckland, Bishop Auckland and Binchester along established rights of way and will be the first to be launched in April.
The other routes in Hartlepool, Jarrow and Hexham will be known as the Way of Love, Way of Learning and Way of Light respectively.
Ahead of the opening of the walks, a special celebration ceremony is to be held at St Mary’s on Palm Sunday (April 5) at 3pm, when both the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, and the Bishop of Jarrow, the Rt Revd Sarah Clark, will join the congregation.
Revd Eileen Harrop said: “All four of the walks will be represented at the service and that will be held at St Mary’s.”
Residents and local business owners were invited to hear more about the Northern Saints Trails, at a meeting last month. Ms Harrop added: “Although we are supposed to look at this as a spiritually, we thought it was right to involve the other parishioners who don’t necessarily come to church or practice a faith.
“What was lovely was there were parishioners from Langton, Ingleton as well as Gainford who were interested in learning more.”
Outlining the significance of the walks, people heard from David Pott, who has designed the trails and is the Diocese of Durham project co-ordinator, as well as Craig Wilson from Visit County Durham, Canon Charlie Allan, canon chancellor of Durham Cathedral Keith Taylor, president of Camino Ingles and St Mary’s church warden Geoff Taylor, who is also vice-chair of the parochial parish church council.
Ms Harrop added in designing the walks Mr Potts has paid particular attention to the historical and cultural aspects, which are also important for pilgrims.
She added: “What pilgrims are looking out for are things that have spiritual significance and a sense of place. For example many of our Saxon crosses would have been here when St Cuthbert’s body was brought to safety from Lindisfarne. And after these thousand years they are still here.”
Extra significance has been paid to the timing of the launch of each walk. The first, the Way of Life, has been timed to coincide with Holy Week from April 6 until April 9. The Way of Love will follow on April 21 to 23 at Ascension Tide. The Way of Learning on April 25 to 27 and the Way of Light on April 28 to 31 are on Pentecost.