Rosemary Butler, Revd Eileen Harrop - Vicar St Mary's Gainford, Bishop Paul Butler & David Pott set off from St Mary's Well on the Way of Life Northern Saints Trail.

It’s second-time lucky as the Bishop of Durham embarks on walking four of the six Northern Saints Trails with an inaugural pilgrimage service on Palm Sunday in Gainford 28th March 2021. Originally scheduled to happen in 2020, COVID hit, postponing the plans for the Bishop of Durham to walk the inaugural Northern Saints Trails.

Bishop Paul will lead inaugural pilgrimages along The Way of Life, The Way of Love, The Way of Learning and The Way of Light which all lead to the shrine of St Cuthbert at Durham Cathedral. The first commencing on Monday 29th March at 9.30am from Gainford with only Bishop Paul & Wife Rosemary along with David Pott, the Pilgrimage route coordinator walking the route. Along the way, they will be joined by a maximum of 3 other people keeping to a strict COVID secure format.

Two other routes, The Angel’s Way and The Way of the Sea provide links to give pilgrims continuous pilgrimage routes between Lindisfarne and Durham.

The fact that the individual routes are all called ‘ways’ has a particular resonance for Christians because in earlier times the Christian Faith was referred to as ‘The Way’.

Bishop Paul reflected on his own experiences of his annual Prayer Walks around the diocese and the opportunity the four Northern Saints Trails offer. He 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.

A  ‘soft launch’ of the trails took place in July 2020, encouraging mostly local walkers to start using the trails and since then the website has been attracting a good number of visitors. Other preparations are being made prior to a full launch taking place later in the year whenever it is deemed to be safe to do so.


The Way of Life Pilgrimage

Gainford green – 3 pm on Sunday 28th March (Palm Sunday) for an Innaugral Pilgrimmage Service which will be live-streamed on Facebook.

The walk formally starts on the 29th  – concluding 30th.

Monday 29 March

Time Places  Miles Visits
09:30 Gainford Starting at St Mary’s Well DL2 3DS
11:00 Ingleton 3 St John the Evangelist DL2 3HL
13:00 West Auckland 7.3 Manor Stables DL14 9JX
15:15 Escomb 12 Escomb Church DL14 7SY
16:45 Bishop Auckland 13.5 Staying in our homes


Tuesday 30 March

Time Places Miles Visits
09:30 Bishop Auckland Starting at St Anne’s Church DL14 7NJ
11:00 Byers Green 5 St Peter’s Church DL16 7NL
12:00 Whitworth 6 Whitworth Church DL16 7QX
13:15 Tudhoe 8 St David’s Church DL16 6LL
14:45 Sunderland Bridge 10 St Bartholomew’s Church DH6 5JS
16:15 Durham 13.5  St Oswald’s Church DH1 3DQ
17:00 Durham 14 Finish at cathedral

The Way of Love Pilgrimage – May 7-8th Hartlepool to Durham
This will also be undertaken in just two days, taking place on May 7th and 8th. To comply with restrictions, Bishop Paul and his wife will be camping in St Mary Magdalene Church in Trimdon. This will be the first case of pilgrims camping overnight in churches on The Northern Saints Trails and a number of other churches will be offering this special service to pilgrims

The Way of Learning Pilgrimage – May 16-18 Jarrow to Durham

The Way of Light Pilgrimage – May 20-23rd Heavenfield/Hexham to Durham.

Inaugural Service Live Stream

Image Gallery

Pilrimage 2021

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