I met Janet Bradshaw last week. Jan is a vet from Somerset who has just completed her diagonal walk across England from Norfolk to Cornwall, roughly following the Mary /Michael Pilgrim Route with her coloured cob, Lottie. Her blog, Walking With Awen tells the story of her walk. I have been following her blog, so it was wonderful to finally meet up with Jan when she had reached her destination here in Cornwall. I am so grateful that she was so generously willing to share some of her remarkable journey with me.
St. Michael’s Mount / The Holy Island of Lindisfarne
Talking to Jan got me thinking about my own route. I had considered doing the Mary / Michael route but decided to design my own ‘pilgrimage’ route instead which roughly follows another diagonal line across the country from one holy island to another: St Michael’s Mount / Lindisfarne (and once I had zig-zagged into Wales en route, at about 1,000 miles, would be twice as long as Jan’s journey). I was particularly interested to learn that about half-way through her journey, Jan had actually walked within spitting distance of her home in Somerset along the way, deciding not to ‘go home’ for fear it might have been difficult to continue.
Living on the hill that overlooks St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, I had originally planned to make the Mount my own starting point. Then it occurred to me that it would be better to do it the other way around making Lindisfarne, on the borders of Scotland, my original destination, my starting point instead. Flipping my journey on its head would make all the difference and turn the whole thing into a journey of ‘coming home‘. (Reminding me of Simon Armitage’s wonderful book, Walking Home). It would mean rather than starting out from a place of familiarity, my journey would begin at a point of complete unknown, which also corresponds with the concept at the heart of my terra incognito project. The journey would then be one of consistently walking towards more familiar territory the closer I got to home, and thus, metaphorically (and hopefully), to a better understanding of what pilgrimage might eventually mean to me.
In the meantime, the search for my special equine companion continues………