Following its launch in May this year, the Gower Pilgrimage Way has proved very popular with visitors, both individuals and small groups, who have walked or cycled the route and called in at the seventeen churches in the Gower Ministry Area.
As those who queued for hours to file past the coffin of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Hall will attest though, there is something special about making a journey in company, and the same is true of the Gower Pilgrimage Way.
After a long period of preparation, the first Gower Pilgrimage Festival took place in September 2022. The Festival started on the morning of Sunday 11 September with a blessing from Father Tim at St Gwynour’s Church, Llanernewydd, in the north-east corner of both the peninsula and the Gower Ministry Area, and ended with a Cymanfa Ganu hymn singing service led by Rev. Peter Brooks and Alun Tregelles Williams at St Teilo’s Church, Bishopston, on the evening of Friday 16 September. The sun shone every day, and the pilgrims visited each of the churches in the Ministry Area, where we were given a wonderful welcome and served with drinks and cakes by members of the congregations.
Each day’s walk finished with a service or event at the church at which we arrived, and these included a Celtic Christian Meditation, a Compline service led by Brother Titus from Caldey Abbey, a play for voices on the life of Saint Cattwg, a talk on Pilgrimage by Rev. Sam Aldred and the closing Cymanfa Ganu service. The text of the Rev Aldred’s talk may be viewed HERE.
In addition to local residents, the pilgrims included visitors from Crickhowell, Cardiff, Leicester, Sheffield and Morecambe, and also a gentleman from California who had timed his visit so that he could join us on the pilgrimage! As well as enabling us to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation in this wonderful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the walks provided opportunities for reflection and meaningful conversation.
We were assisted by so many people, helping to lead and steward the walks, providing first aid support, and by ensuring that toilet facilities and transport were made available for the walkers. Louise Rigdon and the volunteers at The Lamplighter Café have supported the initiative from the outset, and it was good to call there for refreshments at the end of the final walk before the Cymanfa Ganu service.
It was difficult to know in advance how popular the walks and events would prove to be, but they seem to have struck a chord with the many people who were involved, and there have been requests to repeat the Festival in future years. We hope that this will be possible, and we would be grateful to hear from anyone who would like to be involved in any way.
Thank you for your support throughout this year.
David and Anne Pope