Edward Morrison reports on a sponsored walk along Hadrian’s Wall from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway
On Sunday night, after taking 47 Horden pilgrims to Walsingham, the thought of walking 85 miles from Wallsend to the west Cumberland coast the very next day did not fill me with joy. I remembered my Duke of Edinburgh expeditions: tired feet, aching shoulders, Alpen bars that tasted of meths and getting lost. But this expedition was different – not for status or personal satisfaction, but for God, for Our Lady and for righteousness. It was to raise money to allow the children of St Helen Auckland and Horden to attend this year’s Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage, to deepen their faith and to meet other young Christians.
An early encounter
Our first day of walking was a little surreal, as most of it was through Newcastle city centre. We bumped into a pair of itinerant Roman Catholic preachers, one of whom carried a large cross, and the other with a coffin strapped to his back. They had been roaming the country for 21 years trying to bring people to Christ, relying on nothing but God’s grace for much of the time, and it was humbling to meet people who really do leave everything for the sake of the gospel, and so good to meet them at the beginning of our journey.
Fifteen miles later we reached our first stop of Heddon-on-the-Wall. Bushed, we wolfed down dinner and had an early night. Our second day was beautiful, walking through the wheat fields dotted with poppies in glorious sunshine. Our destination was Chollerford, and on the way we stopped to say Vespers at St Oswald’s Church in Heavenfield, where St Oswald defeated Cadwallon in AD635, bringing Christianity to Northumbria.
Day three began with Mass as usual, which we offered every day for various intentions including our sponsors, pilgrims and congregations, before setting off for Once Brewed. The day was long, hard on the feet and at times wet, but the views were stunning on this high part of the wall, especially looking over Crag Lough at Housesteads. After briefly getting lost, we arrived at a rather depressing youth hostel, but soon found a lovely pub which served delicious pork belly, a perfect consolation.
Arriving in Carlisle we visited the only Catholic parish in the Diocese of Carlisle, the beautiful St Aidan’s Church. We were humbled by the dedication of the laypeople there, keeping such a stunning church so immaculate and beautiful. We will continue to keep the people of St Aidan’s in our prayers, that they may thrive and be a great witness in that part of the world.
At Carlisle we were generously hosted by Mrs Peta Leigh in the village of Great Broughton, after which we completed our last leg to the sea at Bowness. With half a cider each, bought with our last few coins, we toasted the end of a great journey, one which will ensure that this summer our young people will join with others at Walsingham in Running for Righteousness. ND
Edward Morrison was walking
with Fr Grant Naylor
They will be accompanied to the
Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage
by the Editor