Pilgrim Paths

A new Pilgrimage Paths walking series in the Bicester and Islip deanery was launched on Sunday 1 May seeking to connect local people with one another and with the history of their 35 parish churches.

Yellow rape seed field with footpath and walkers in the centreThe first group of 60 people, of all ages, took a 4-mile circular route from St Edmund and St George, Hethe, via Hardwick and Cottisford, stopping at several churches on the way including the local Roman Catholic Church. The launch ended with tea and cake in Hethe and a short service and blessing from the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Gavin Collins.

The initiative was inspired by the Revd Dr Sally Welch, Author of Making a Pilgrimage, who gave a talk on pilgrimages at a meeting of the deanery’s synod in 2018.

The Revd Gareth Miller, Area Dean of Bicester and Islip, brought together keen walkers from the local churches to map suitable pilgrimage walks within the deanery. Since then, a small group, chaired by the Revd Diana Glover, Assistant Area Dean, has been putting together more than 15 circular routes in and around the parishes taking in the countryside right up to the Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire borders.

large group of people walking through field with large trees in the backgroundThe routes vary in length from two miles to full-day walks, and cater to all abilities from families with small children to walking groups. Covering both urban and rural parishes including Bicester town, parts of the Oxford Canal, and the Tusmore Estate, the routes take in the contrast of historic churches to a modern church plant.

Each route plan and map highlights key points of interest about the history and significance of each church and offers a prompt for prayer and reflection at specific points along the route.

Diana shares the aims of the pilgrimage walks:

“We hope it will be a way for people to enjoy the countryside and get to know more about the churches in their local area. It’s about making the church more accessible to those who wouldn’t usually go to a Sunday service.

“We all need to take time out in our busy lives to slow down and reflect, to be contemplative, and experience the benefits of nature. Being in touch with creation is a life-giving part of our spiritual journeys and enables us to experience God’s presence in a profound way.”

Route maps are planned to be available from each church in the Bicester and Islip Deanery and from diana.glover@btinternet.com.


Page last updated: 10th May 2022 10:14 AM