A total of 30 pilgrims joined this year’s St Wilfrid’s Way: the fifth Annual Diocesan two-day ‘Camino’ between Leeds Cathedral and St Wilfrid’s, Ripon.
This was thanks to the Government’s and Public Health England’s rulings that ‘Licenced Organised Outdoor Physical Activities’ are encouraged as long as they are organised by a licenced official body such as a registered charity, pre-booked, Covid-Risk-Assessed and with no more than 30 participants at any one time. Fewer Masses and Devotions were arranged this year (although many thanks to Fr Maurice Pearce and Fr William Wright for their kind offers to celebrate Masses at Bishop Thornton and Knaresborough respectively).
Pilgrims are always encouraged to walk as much or as little of the Camino as they feel able, following Stephen Habron’s detailed route booklet, complete with Pilgrims’ Prayers, historical details about the Catholic heritage to be found along the Way and safety information. Although family commitments meant that Stephen was unable to join the pilgrimage in person this year, his son the Cathedral’s Dean, Canon Matthew Habron, kept up the family involvement by celebrating a special Pilgrims’ Mass at Leeds Cathedral on Friday 9 October. This first day of the Pilgrimage was attended by 10 people and after picking up and dropping off pilgrims in Woodhall, East Keswick and Spofforth, the day ended with the Rosary prayed outside the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag in Knaresborough.
The second day being a Saturday was even better attended, with 20 pilgrims joining the route from ‘Finisterre’ (the World’s End pub) in Knaresborough via Ripley and Bishop Thornton to Ripon. The Huddersfield Circle of the Catenians made the Camino and Mass at St Wilfrid’s Church one of their year’s events and they joined several parishioners from Bishop Thornton for the Angelus and Rosary prayed outside St Joseph’s Church.
Owing to the pandemic, National Trust properties across Britain are open, but require pre-booking, so this year a different route was taken past Fountains Abbey. The pilgrims then rejoined the usual route through the Studley Royal deer park, with its stunning vista toward Ripon Cathedral, as they endured the only heavy shower of the whole Camino on the last leg of their physically-distanced yet together-in-spirit journey to Ripon, where they joined the Vigil Mass celebrated at St Wilfrid’s Church by Canon Ian Smith.
Many thanks go to all the clergy who have supported the Pilgrimage in any way; to all pilgrims who joined in any way: walking any of the route, the Masses and Devotions, or simply through encouragement, cheerful support, or giving lifts and kind hospitality to weary members of their households or ‘bubbles’.
We would also particularly like to thank West and North Yorkshire Police and Local Authority Safety Advisory Groups for all their help and advice, as well as the Ramblers, LDWA (Long Distance Walkers’ Association), Sport England and the British Pilgrimage Trust for having liaised so closely with the Government and Public Health England, enabling them to disseminate very clear guidance that such events are permitted and exempt from the ‘Rule of Six’, and allowing the Pilgrimage dedicated to our diocesan Patrons, Our Lady of Unfailing Help and St Wilfrid, to take place for the physical and spiritual health of all in the Diocese of Leeds, for whom we prayed throughout the Pilgrimage.
More photographs from this year’s St Wilfrid’s Way will be coming soon … God willing, next year’s Camino will take place on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 October.