On Saturday 8 June 2019, midlands Church Leaders, priests, pastors and people will walk together in prayer and fellowship over the 19 miles between Repton and Lichfield. The St Chad Pilgrimage will take over nine hours to complete, including brief pauses for prayer and refreshment en route.
All five fixed prayer points on the pilgrimage have significant, historic Christian roots:
- St Wystan’s, Repton, our starting point, was established in the 7th Century and was the base of the first four Bishops of the Mercians
- St Modwen’s, Burton upon Trent, is the location of the place of prayer established by the Irish nun St Modwen in the 7th Century
- All Saints, Alrewas, has over 1,000 years of history as a place of prayer
- St Chad’s, Lichfield, is the site of the house of prayer established by St Chad in 669AD
- Lichfield Cathedral, for many centuries the resting place of St Chad’s remains, was founded on Christmas Day 700AD
Since Saturday 8 June is Pentecost Saturday (except for Orthodox believers), it falls within the ‘Thy Kingdom Come‘ novena. This introduces a contemporary ecumenical prayer aspect to the pilgrimage, powerfully complementing its Christian heritage context.
The following midlands Church Leaders will participate in some or all of the St Chad Pilgrimage on 8 June:
- The Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, 99th successor of St Chad as Bishop of Lichfield
- The Rt Revd Jan MacFarlane, Bishop of Repton in the Anglican Diocese of Derby
- The Rt Revd Pat McKinney, Roman Catholic Bishop of Nottingham
- Mgr Tim Menezes, Vicar General in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham
- Revd Rachel Parkinson, Chair of the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District of the Methodist Church
- Revd Mike Fegredo, Regional Minister for the East Midlands Baptist Association
- Revd Adrian Argile, Regional Minister Team Leader for the Heart of England Baptist Association
- Revd Steve Faber, Moderator of the West Midlands Synod of the United Reformed Church
Repton to Burton
Section One of the pilgrimage will cover the five miles (7.7km) between St Wystan’s, Repton, and St Modwen’s, Burton upon Trent. The route covers roughly three miles of public footpaths through undulating countryside to Winshill, followed by pavements next to public roads through Winshill, down to the River Trent in Burton. Participants undertaking this part of the pilgrimage will need to be able to climb seven high stiles. Drinks and toilets will be available at St Wystan’s and St Modwen’s.
Burton to Alrewas
Section Two of the pilgrimage will cover the eight miles (13km) between St Modwen’s, Burton upon Trent, and All Saints, Alrewas. Leaving St Modwen’s, there is half an hour of walking through Burton streets to Shobnall Marina, followed by over six miles along the towpath of the Trent and Mersey Canal to Alrewas. This section could be characterised as flat – but long. All Saints may act as a ‘lunch stop’ for those who are undertaking the entire length of the pilgrimage. Drinks and toilets will be available here.
Alrewas to Lichfield
Section Three of the pilgrimage will cover the six miles (9.6km) between All Saints, Alrewas, and Lichfield Cathedral. Leaving Alrewas, the route follows the canal towpath to Fradley Junction, then encompasses fields, woods and rough terrain to the railway line which separates Curborough and Lichfield. The final part of the walk follows roads/paths to St Chad’s Church and on to Lichfield Cathedral. Walkers on this section of the pilgrimage will need to be able to climb four stiles and to cope with undergrowth and uneven ground in the Fradley-to-Curborough part of the route.
Accepting that it is difficult to be precise about timings, especially in the later parts of the pilgrimage, given the long distances involved and the possibility of as-yet-unknown factors arising on the day, the approximate timings for the pilgrimage are as follows:
- 8.00am onwards – Arrive at St Wystan’s, Repton, for registration and drinks
- 8.45am – Short service to launch the pilgrimage
- 9.00am – Leave St Wystan’s
- 11.00am – Arrive at St Modwen’s, Burton
- 11.30am – Leave St Modwen’s
- 2.45pm – Arrive at All Saints, Alrewas
- 3.15pm – Leave All Saints
- 5.45pm – Arrive at St Chad’s, Lichfield
- 6.00pm – Walk together from St Chad’s to Lichfield Cathedral
- 6.15pm – Arrive at Lichfield Cathedral for refreshments
- 6.30pm – Final service at the Cathedral
- 7.00pm – Depart for home
Since the St Chad Pilgrimage is 19 miles (30.5km) long, and recognising that not everyone is able to undertake this distance on foot, the following three walking options are offered to pilgrims:
- Option 1 – Undertake the whole pilgrimage from Repton to Lichfield (Sections One, Two and Three as outlined above = 19 miles)
- Option 2 – Walk from Burton to Lichfield (Sections Two and Three as outlined above = 14 miles)
- Option 3 – Walk from Alrewas to Lichfield (Section Three as outlined above = 6 miles)
Due to the combination of (a) the lack of administrative capacity within CLASP (b) the desire to keep costs to a minimum and (c) the fact that pilgrims will be coming from a wide geographical area, it will not be possible to organise shared transport to/from any point on the pilgrimage. It will be the responsibility of the pilgrims to make their way to/from the points at which they join/leave the pilgrimage. With the agreement of pilgrims, it might be possible to link them with others who live in their area, to create the possibility of them making arrangements to share lifts/transport.
Please note that parking is limited in Repton, though there are some free on-road spaces near St Wystan’s. There is more (paying) parking availability at Burton upon Trent, though not in the Market Place close to St Modwen’s. Parking in Alrewas is limited. There is a small amount of free parking next to St Chad’s Church in Lichfield. There is no public parking at Lichfield Cathedral, though there are (paying) car park facilities in the city nearby.
The (not-so) small print
Pilgrims must be able to maintain a reasonable walking pace (i.e. 3mph) over a number of hours. CLASP reserves the right to remove pilgrims from the walk on the day, if their inability to walk at the necessary pace is prohibiting fellow-pilgrims from undertaking the walk.
Pilgrims will be arranged in groups of 25-30 walkers, each of which will be led by a leader who has walked the route on at least one occasion prior to 8 June. By registering to join the pilgrimage, participants are agreeing to comply with the instructions of their group leader at all times on the journey.
Pilgrims must be able to climb stiles, have sturdy footwear and have suitable clothing, and carry sufficient food/drink for the journey.
Because of the varied and occasionally-challenging terrain, it will not be possible to accommodate push-chairs and/or wheel-chairs on the pilgrimage.
Because the pilgrimage involves entering church buildings, it will not be possible to bring dogs on the walk. This is to honour the requirements of the participating host churches.
Registered walkers will be covered by Public Liability Insurance.
Professional medical back-up will be available for the duration of the pilgrimage.
The cost of planning and leading the St Chad Pilgrimage have been underwritten by the ecumenical Churches Linked Across Staffordshire and the Potteries (CLASP), with support from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham.
Sincere thanks are given to host churches and to pilgrimage planners George Barbrook, Michael Elsom, Peter Sharpe and Ian Thompson, who have freely given time and energy to plan the pilgrimage. And sincere thanks to Brian Homewood, Richard Jolly, David Mason, Lilas Rawling and David Watkins for acting as group leaders on the day.
While no charge is being made for registration/participation, individuals and/or organisations who wish to make a contribution to the costs of the St Chad Pilgrimage should contact walk organiser Robert Mountford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To register to participate in the St Chad Pilgrimage, in the first instance contact Robert Mountford by e-mailing email@example.com. E-mails are checked regularly, but in busy times, it may take a little time to receive a response.
Registration will be complete only when an application form has been issued, completed, returned, and confirmation received in writing from pilgrimage organiser Robert Mountford.
Completed application forms must be received by midnight on Friday 24 May 2019 at the latest. Under NO circumstances will it be possible to register to join the pilgrimage after midnight on Tuesday 4 June.