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My pilgrim curriculum vitæ (updated)


Pilgrimages are walking Zen; step by step the practitioner makes his or her way through blue sky temples and white  cloud monasteries. Conducted in the traditional manner – on foot, in old-fashioned garb, carrying no money, accepting whatever comes – pilgrimages are among the most demanding, and therefore most rewarding, of all religious disciplines. ~Martin Roth and John Steven (1985) Zen Guide p. 108

A pilgrim is naked exposed vulnerable isolated. He or she is a person with courage and determination. When the going gets tough the tough pilgrim gets going. The characteristics of today’s pilgrims.

I enjoy walking – especially repetitive long-distance walking. I became interested in the Camino de Santiago de Compostela from reading some articles. My wife and I became members of the Confraternity of St James and attended an open day with knowledgeable speakers and experienced and budding pilgrims all keen to share information and ideas. We decided to become pilgrims and pored over maps of France and Spain and chose Le Puy-en-Velay, France as our starting point. We negotiated with our employers for extended leave, assembled our equipment, and in 2000 made our way to Le Puy-en-Velay. We attended Holy Mass and the kindly bishop sent us on our way with his blessing.

I have a stirring that leads me to want to walk in the footsteps of earlier pilgrims and experience holy places. During my time on the road I’m changing and experience lightness and freedom despite the hardships and uncertainties (particularly the availability of nice nutritious vegetarian food), and the routine of repetitive long-distance walking and daily chores. I explore new horizons.

2000, From the Cathedral of Le Puy-en-Velay, France to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela to finish at the Faro de Finisterre. The route GR65 (Grande Randonee) passed through Conques, Figeac, Cahors and Moissac before reaching St Jean-Pied-de-Port in the foothills of the Pyrenees, and in Spain through Roncesvalles, Pamplona, Puente la Reina, Estella, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Astorga, Ponferrada and Sarria before it reached the City of the Apostle James.

concha of st james

2002, From Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire, England to Le Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France. The route passed through Portsmouth and by ferry to Cherbourg, Barfleur, the Normandy coast, to Saint-Mere-Egise, and Genets on the north shore of the bay that was crossed with a guide to the iconic Le Mont Saint-Michel.

In the Middle Ages Barfleur was one of the chief ports of embarkation for England.
1066 – A large medallion fixed to a rock in the harbour marks the Norman departure from Barfleur before the Battle of Hastings.
1120 – The White Ship, carrying Prince William, only legitimate son of Henry I of England, went down outside the harbour.
1194 – Richard I of England departed from Barfleur on return to England following his captivity by Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor.
6 June 1944 – Normandy Landings

2005, The Saint Cuthbert’s Way from Melrose Abbey to Lindisfarne (Holy Island) off the coast of Northumberland.

2007, The Camino Portugues from the Cathedral of Porto, Portugal to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

2010, The Cami de Llevant runs from the Cathedral of Valencia via Albacete, Toledo, Avila, Toro, Zamora, Ourense to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela to finish at the Faro de Finisterre.


Walking the Cami de Llevant: a Spanish Coast to Coast:

2013, The Way of the Soul that leads to Jerusalem. The journey began from my North London home in 2008 and crossed: England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Vatican City, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Republic of Cyprus, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Israel, Jerusalem.

The routes to reach Jerusalem
1. From my home in Winchmore Hill, London to Trafalgar Square to link with St Martin in the Fields’ annual pilgrimage from Trafalgar Square to Canterbury Cathedral, Kent


2. The via Francigena is called the Way of the Heart. It is the way of Love, but not human love, but Divine Love, whatever the term means to you. The via Francigena is an ancient route between Canterbury and Rome, passing through: England, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Vatican City.


This route follows more or less directly in the footsteps of Sigeric the Serious, Archbishop of Canterbury (989-994). He travelled to Rome in 989 to receive his cope and pallium (a circular band of white wool with pendant, worn by archbishops) from the hands of the Pope, as was customary for that period. Sigeric on his way home recorded the places he passed through identifying them as ‘submansiones.’ The manuscript of that journey is kept in the British Library and became the focus of academic research that resulted in the re-creation of this modern-day pilgrimage route. The Archbishop’s description of the route proved accurate although the 10th century names differed in many instances from their contemporary ones.

The crossing of France began at Calais and in parts the route followed the Western Front. The name the Germans gave to a series of trenches that ran 700 kilometres from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border.

One enters the Vatican City by walking through St Peter’s Square. It leads to St Peter’s Basilica. Within the territory of Vatican City are the Vatican Gardens which account for more than half of this territory. The gardens, established during the Renaissance and Baroque era, are decorated with fountains and sculptures.

3. The Via Appia is the first and most important of the great roads built by the Ancient Romans: Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano to Bari, Italy on the  Adriatic Sea to cross by ferry to Durrës, Albania.

4. The via Egnatia was constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Starting at Durrës, Albania on the Adriatic Sea, the road follows the river Genusus (Shkumbin), over the Candaviae mountains and thence to the highlands around Lake Ohrid. It then turns south, following several mountain passes to reach the northern coastline of the Aegean Sea at Thessalonica having passed through Macedonia. From there it runs through Thrace to Istanbul, Turkey. I was ill prepared for the grandeur and scale of the landscape.

I struggled with my fear during this section of the route. I followed Shoma Morita’s teachings to accept and recognise these emotions by not ignoring or avoiding them, but welcoming them. Of course, at that time, that was easier said than done.

I recall arriving at Florina, Greece with a huge feeling of relief and comfort after my slog through Albania and Macedonia. The remaining route to Jerusalem appeared a doddle (which it was not). The route continued the via Egnatia south to Thessalonica and, from there, east through Thrace to the Turkish border and onto Istanbul, Turkey.

5. The five-island-hopping route: Samos, Patmos, Kos, Rhodes, Cyprus. Leave the via Egnasia at Kesan to head south in Turkey. Whereas, the via Egnasia continues to Istanbul, Turkey.

6. Crossing the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to the Republic of Cyprus. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus: Kyrenia – Nicosia 27km; The Republic of Cyprus
Nicosia – Lythrodontas 32km; Lythrodontas -Tochni 32km; Tochni – Limassol 35km.

There is regular ferry traffic between Alanya, Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Whereas ferry and other sea services from Limassol, Republic of Cyprus to Haifa are uncertain and require some research.

7. From Haifa, Israel to Jerusalem. This route extends the sea crossing from Limassol, Republic of Cyprus to Jerusalem.


Confraternity of Pilgrims to Jerusalem: the Way of the Soul:

2014, The via de la Plata. From the Cathedral of Seville, Spain to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

2015, (pending) 1) The Camino Francés is called the Way of the Sword. It’s the place where you battle your fears and face your demons. From St Jean-Pied-de-Port, France to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain; and 2) St Martin in the Fields’ 25th annual pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

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