A 10-day pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury, following Walking The Pilgrim’s Way by Leigh Hatts (Cicerone), included many ups and downs, both literal and emotional.
There are many glorious parts of the walk, but the one that took my breath away was the hard push up Hackhurst Downs in Surrey, through a gorgeous yew-lined avenue, which then opened magnificently on to Blatchford Down. The splendid views from the top are well worth the ascent.
To get the most of the pilgrimage, make sure you go off-path to visit the many divine little churches along the way, especially 900-year-old St Benedict’s in Paddlesworth (near Maidstone), Kent. • britishpilgrimage.orgKirrily Long
St Conan’s Way, Highlands
Iona Abbey. Photograph: Alamy
Wildflowers, waterfalls and rainbows – there can hardly be anywhere more lovely and more varied to walk than Argyll in June. I walked St Conan’s Way from Dalmally to Iona, part of a planned pilgrimage route from St Andrews. I went with a friendly small organised group and was left with an enduring sense of replenishment. After 100km of walking (six days) and two ferry crossings, we reached Iona, a destination for pilgrims since the seventh century. • britishpilgrimage.orgSarah Akehurst
Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print, and the best entry each week (as chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet) wins £200 towards a stay at one of 3,000-plus Sawday’s properties in the UK and Europe. To enter the latest competition visit the readers' tips homepage
Thank you for your feedback.
St Margaret’s Way, Edinburgh to St Andrews
The Fife Coastal Path near Anstruther. Photograph: Phil Seale/Alamy
Last Easter I followed St Margaret’s Way from Edinburgh to St Andrews. It’s a beautiful and varied route – west and over the Forth Road Bridge, back east along the Fife Coastal Path, then north at Shell Bay, with easy terrain that took four days to walk. My sunrise starting point was St Giles’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, where the warden was kind enough to let me in before hours. I wild camped: in the ruined 12th-century St Bridget’s Kirk, in woods near East Wemyss, and by the loch at Kilconquhar. Cafes in coastal towns served haggis-heavy breakfasts. I stayed in cheap hostels at either end of the walk. • thewayofstandrews.comSam
Via Podiensis, France
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Photograph: Mattia Giovanni Argentieri/Getty Images
I’ve walked many of the pilgrim routes across Europe and they are all beautiful but my favourite is the Via Podiensis, from Le Puy in south-central France to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees. The 700km route meanders south-west through deep gorges, over rolling hills and by fields of sunflowers. The villages and towns are rustic perfection. Accommodation for pilgrims comes in the form of gîtes d’étape (walkers’ hostels) and is basic but cheap (€5-€10) or in gîtes that provide dinner, bed and breakfast for around €30. The walk takes just over a month but can be done in shorter stages.Alison Jilks
St Olav’s Way, Norway
Crossing the Dovre mountain, St Olav’s Way. Photograph: David Tett
This route, really a network of paths, is a great way of remembering Norway’s 11th centrury King Olav II Haraldsson, who was later made a saint. The 643km path leads to the splendid cathedral in Trondheim, which according to tradition you should walk around three times before saying a prayer. Farmers will hail you along the way and share their food or dinner with you and even put you up in their barns if the weather turns bad – as one family did for me. We sat around a campfire at night sharing a plate of moose tacos washed down with forest berry juice – a spiritual and nourishing experience that really helped me on my way.• pilegrimsleden.noNigel
A stretch of the Via Francigena, Switzerland
Chateau de Chillon on Lake Geneva, near Montreux. Photograph: Scott Wilson/Alamy
Hiking in the hills just north of Lake Geneva this year, I came across a small wooden sign near a village saying Via Francigena. Curious, I followed some Spanish monks through the vineyards east of Lausanne. Replenished with their picnic offerings in spring sunshine we rested on the shores of the lake near Vevey. They taught me Spanish phrases; I taught them some English ones. We shared some food, some prayers under the stars and then a big tent before hiking another day together heading towards Montreux and the bend of the Rhône on the condition of mobile phones being switched off. A heavenly hike!• viefrancigene.orgGreta Cooper
Camino de Finisterre, Galicia
Sunset at the Virxe da Barca sanctuary in Muxia. Photograph: Joel Carillet/Getty Images
Because Santiago and much of Galicia are often somewhat busy, committing to any pilgrimage can be a struggle if you are seeking a more spiritual experience. The 30km coastal route between Finisterre (Fisterra in Galician) and Muxía – west of Santiago and so away from the main Camino – is the antidote. This is a microcosm of every Iberian pilgrimage. The coast is never far away, but the route winds over hills, through woods and fields and then gently, oh so gently, descends to Muxía. The setting of its gothic chapel, right on the shoreline, is beautiful beyond words. If you are looking for refreshment over the route, or want to split your walk over two days, the Albergue as Eiras in Lires (dorm bed from €14 including breakfast), which has a good restaurant and is generous with food and attitude for pilgrims, is right on the trail. • pilgrimagetraveler.comAlex Bell
Wool Route, Spain
Caracena canyon. Photograph: Getty Images
The 700km Ruta de la Lana, or Wool Route, is part of the Camino de Santiago that links Valencia and Alicante with Burgos, with the wool from the south once following the same path. It passes through two of Spain’s most sparsely populated provinces, Soria and Guadalajara, and was used by pilgrims in the 16th and 17th centuries. En route are many magnificent Romanesque churches and some outstanding landscapes, including the vulture-rich Rio Dulce natural park, and the glorious canyon of Caracena. Of the larger towns, Cuenca and Sigüenza are both well worth a rest day, and neither is on the overseas tourists’ map. If you want, you can walk another 500km to Santiago on the more popular Camino Francés from Burgos.• csj.org.ukHarriet
Korean food, Spain
100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas
My son was a week late, so my doctor decided to induce labor. I didn’t have that dramatic oh-my-god-my-water-broke TV moment; instead, I laid back in a hospital bed as a resident poked my amniotic sac. I laid there for hours, waiting for my son to descend. But he wouldn’t move and I wouldn’t dilate.
I needed an emergency cesarean section, which was the one thing I never planned for during pregnancy.
Any cesarean mother will tell you that undergoing a C-section is an intense experience. Not only is it major surgery, but we also face a few short-term risks post-surgery that could make recovery even more difficult. (I still have problems with constipation and my son is almost 3 years old.)
I know this personally—and now new research details the long-term risks and benefits of C-sections.
A study published last week in PLoS Medicine found that women who’ve had a cesarean delivery have decreased risks of urinary incontinence and pelvic prolapse (when a pelvic organ drops and pushes against your vaginal walls) compared to woman who delivered vaginally.
On the flip side, C-sections carry higher risks of miscarriage, placenta previa (when the placenta covers all or part of the cervix) and other serious complications with future pregnancies, according to the findings.
But a cesarean delivery's long-term effects aren’t limited to mama.
10 incredible pilgrimages to make in your lifetime
An old friend of ours died recently. I had known Adam since university and my wife, Sarah, and he had been good friends for all the 20 years that we have been together. Too old to die young, he still might reasonably have expected another two decades at least.
“Adam Crick – Teacher Pilgrim Poet” reads the epitaph on the dust jacket of his posthumous volume of poems. An inspirational teacher who deserves far greater recognition as a poet, it was as a pilgrim, in the widest sense of the word, that we wanted to commemorate him.
LevT – Fotolia/[email protected]
A wild swimmer and wild walker, Adam was at heart a nature worshipper, a man of all faiths and none. I cherish a photograph of him standing barefoot outside Canterbury Cathedral after following the medieval Pilgrim’s Way to the tomb of Thomas à Becket. He had also walked one of the four French routes of the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail from Le Puy to Finisterre.
So a pilgrimage of our own seemed the best way to remember him. It was especially appropriate, too, in 2016 – a year that the Pope has declared a Holy Year of Mercy, encouraging pilgrims everywhere to take up their staffs and walk.
The Pope has declared a Holy Year of Mercy, encouraging pilgrims everywhere to take up their staffs and walk
I have always had a passion for Northumbria, and Sarah had never been to Lindisfarne, aka Holy Island, where the Irish missionary St Aidan founded a monastery in the seventh century.
The plan was to visit the island and walk parts of the pilgrimage trails on the adjacent mainland dedicated to St Cuthbert and St Oswald – Northumberland’s two most revered Anglo-Saxon saints – as well as visiting the neighbouring Farne Islands where Cuthbert founded a hermitage.
Adam and I had studied Anglo-Saxon literature together at university and few places rival the Northumberland landscape for bringing alive that parallel universe of heroic quests, oak groves, rushing rivers and clinking goblets in the mead hall. Fittingly, the recent ITV drama Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands was filmed there.
Up on to the high moorland we walked with epic views west over the Cheviot Hills and back towards the coast where medieval castles from Lindisfarne and Bamburgh to Dunstanburgh and Alnwick still hold the line against the creeping tide of modernism. In the woods and meadows, brilliant splashes of colour stained the lush green canvas of copse and field: the bluest of bluebells; the yellowest of buttercups; the pinkest of campion; the hawthorn bushes at their blossomiest best.
On our third day out, we descended the winding track through conifer trees to St Cuthbert’s Cave, an atmospheric rock-lined cavern hidden under the overhang of an escarpment.
It was here that the monks of Lindisfarne are said to have rested overnight with the uncorrupted body of St Cuthbert on the way to Durham Cathedral for reinterment in a shrine.
Religious graffiti, some of it centuries old, had been carved into the sandstone rocks.
A Boy Named "Humiliation": Some Wacky, Cruel, and Bizarre Puritan Names
Puritanism has its roots in the late sixteenth century, after Henry VIII broke ties with the Catholic Church.
The Puritans believed that reforms had not gone far enough and advocated for a church entirely divorced from Catholic ceremonies.
For over a century, Puritans argued amongst themselves, schismed, predicted the end of the world, and still found time to fight the English Civil War and start colonies in the Northeastern United States.
Perhaps their greatest gift to history, however, is their wonderfully strange taste in names. A wide variety of Hebrew names came into common usage beginning in 1560, when the first readily accessible English Bible was published.
But by the late 16th century many Puritan communities in Southern Britain saw common names as too worldly, and opted instead to name children after virtues or with religious slogans as a way of setting the community apart from non-Puritan neighbors.
Often, Puritan parents chose names that served to remind the child about sin and pain.
Many Puritan names started to die out after 1662, when the newly restored monarch, Charles II, introduced new laws that cracked down on nonconformist religions and consolidated the power of the Anglican Church. Despite this, some of the names have remained in common use in Anglophone countries.
I’ve collected some of the best, worst, and strangest names the English Puritans came up with.
Most of these are courtesy of the 1888 book by Charles Bardsley, Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature (seen here on the Public Domain Review’s website), which includes Parish records with details about some of the people who had these names.
To show that some of these names are still in use, I’ve referred to 2012 statistics on names in the UK from the Guardian’s interactive chart of baby names.
20 Puritan Names That Are Utterly Strange
- Dancell-Dallphebo-Mark-Anthony-Gallery-Cesar. Son of Dancell-Dallphebo-Mark-Anthony-Gallery-Cesar, born 1676.
- Praise-God. Full name, Praise-God Barebone. The Barebones were a rich source of crazy names. This one was a leather-worker, member of a particularly odd Puritan group and an MP. He gave his name to the Barebones Parliament, which ruled Britain in 1653.
- If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned. Praise-God’s son, he made a name for himself as an economist. But, for some inexplicable reason, he decided to go by the name Nicolas Barbon.
- Fear-God. Also a Barebone.
- Jesus-Christ-came-into-the-world- to-save. Brother of “Damned Barebone”. I can only imagine this name shortened to “Save.”
- Joy-in-sorrow. A name attached to many stories of difficult births.
- Fear-not. His/her surname was “Helly”, born 1589.
- Die-Well. A brother of Farewell Sykes, who died in 1865. We can assume they had rather pessimistic parents.
- Continent. Continent Walker was born in 1594 in Sussex.
- 12 of the Cruelest Puritan Names (meant to remind children of the pain of the world)
- Humiliation. Humiliation Hynde had two sons in the 1620s; he called them both Humiliation Hynde.
- No-merit. NoMerit Vynall was born in Warbleton in Sussex, a fount of beautiful names.
- Sorry-for-sin. Sorry-for-sin Coupard was another resident of Warbleton.
- 12 Strangely Pleasant Puritan Names
- Desire. In the UK, seven babies were named this in 2012.
- Make-peace. This name was in use at least until 1863; see William Makepeace Thackeray, the novelist.
- Tace. It’s another word for silence, and is of course a female name.
- Kill-sin. Kill-sin Pimple did Jury service in the 1650s.
- 10 of the Sweetest Puritan Names
- Liberty. 129 were born in the UK in 2012.
- Felicity. 302 babies got this name in 2012.
- Hope. 416 babies took this name in 2012.
- Prudence. 13 babies got this name in 2012.
- Amity. 5 babies got this name in 2012.
- Verity. 131 babies were born with this name in 2012.
- Trinity. 69 Trinities were born in 2012. The name saw a burst in popularity in 1999—due to a particular film, I suppose.