The British Pilgrimage Trust

Will and Guy en Way

On September 15th 2014 the Trust Deed was executed to form:

“The British Pilgrimage Trust” (The BPT).

Its objectives are to “advance education in and preserve the heritage and traditions of British pilgrimage”.

In other words, we aim to restore pilgrimage to Britain in its best possible form, and to make it accessible to thousands more people.

The Cause

There is a boom in the number of people making pilgrimage globally. The BPT feels a duty to bring more of this pilgrimage ‘market’ to Britain, our ancient green and pleasant land. We want to encourage and guide this burgeoning return of pilgrimage, to help create a sustainable British pilgrimage infrastructure that might endure over a thousand years.

At the Reformation, British pilgrimage disappeared. But like many ‘lost’ British traditions (bushcraft, knitting, baking etc.) pilgrimage has today re-awoken with new resonance for our modern land and lifestyles.

The BPT aims to help this renaissance continue – and grow – into its best and most accessible form.

Reaching Canterbury


The benefits of increased numbers of people making British pilgrimage are clear and manifold:

– To help people – young and otherwise – learn discipline, courage, freedom and joy – and to rediscover their limits and needs, the beauty of nature, and their active place in history and society. We believe people can gain as much from three weeks of ‘proper’ pilgrimage as from six months of jet-setting global ‘travel’ – with a fraction of the ecological and economic cost.

– To help British Churches overcome the current crisis of non-use, by restoring their active role in British life, to make them necessary spaces in the provision of pilgrim requirements – shelter, solace, prayer, historical information, song, water and electricity.

– To re-invigorate village and small-town economies, turning depressed rural areas into thriving hubs of living community enterprise.

– To encourage a health revolution. As a form of moderate exercise, pilgrimage is intense and continuous. Many studies link regular walking with lowered chances of acquiring nasty diseases. A walking nation is a healthy one.

Our Patron

We are very proud to name Rupert Sheldrake as Patron of the BPT.

Rupert is the renowned author of: A New Science of Life; The Science Delusion; and ‘Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home. 


Rupert embraces and values the practice of British pilgrimage, and in lending our Charitable Trust his support, he is helping to ensure the best possible re-emergence of pilgrimage for modern Britain.

Watch his lecture on Science and Spiritual Practises (clips starts at discussion of pilgrimage) HERE.



What Is To Be Done…

The BPT aims to achieve the reinvigoration of British Pilgrimage through the following steps:

– A re-appraisal of ‘How to Be a (proper) Pilgrim’ in book-form, to clarify the best possible methodology of pilgrimage, and to make this practise available to anyone, anywhere in the world, even those with as little as 1 hour to spare.

– The launching of a dedicated British Pilgrimage Trust website, detailing routes and destinations all over Britain, offering technical guidance and support, reviewing pilgrim equipment and helping would-be pilgrims get on the path.

– The exhibition of promotional pilgrimages, involving filming, talks and concerts.

– The development of new takes on traditional pilgrimage routes.  Re-plotting the Old Ways to cope with the modern twists – like motorways – that our ancestors did not face. Mapping these new routes on the website, and also on the ground.

– The creation of an established pilgrimage circuit between Winchester and Canterbury – following the North AND the South Downs – to create a Great British ‘Camino’ that can rival the best pilgrimage routes of the world. We believe that if the Spain can do it, so can Britain.

– The establishment of pilgrim hubs at Winchester and Canterbury, as administrative centres offering basic accomodation and equipment hire.

– The creation of an infrastructure of ‘British Pilgrim Churches’ which are open (perpetually or upon request) to provide pilgrims with shelter and basic facilities. The more people using these great Temples of the British landscape, the more secure they will be, in both the short and long-term.

– The foundation of a network of Pilgrims’ cold-harbours – wild-camping spots owned and administered by the BPT. These Pilgrims’ Acres shall remain perpetually in trust, to provide a non-commerical and ecologically impeccable accomodation infrastrucutre for British Pilgrims on the Way.

– The increase of pilgrim numbers through targeted promotion and grass-roots marketing.

– The creation of a sustainable growth model that can be re-applied in order to rejuvenate other British pilgrimage paths.


Abergevenny Vista

Forever Pilgrims’ England…

If you want to see pilgrimage return to this land, in its best possible form for all the right reasons, please pledge your support today.

Every little helps, but a lot helps loads. As with all charities, donations can only be spent on furthering our objectives.

Phase 1 aims to create a beautiful website of stunning artwork and high-value information, a stable administrative base, a pilot trial of waymarking our new pilgrimage routes on the ground, and promotional drives through film and photography. Phase 1 requires funds of £7000.

If you own land or businesses along the North or South Downs, and you are willing to offer pilgrims low-cost accomodation, please get in touch.

Likewise, if you own or know of property around Winchester or Canterbury that could become a hub for the revival and restoration of British pilgrimage, please contact us.

Together we can create an enduring Pilgrims’ Britain.


William Parsons – co-founder and Trustee of the BPRT


THANKYOU to our generous donors:

The beginning of a venture is the hardest time to offer it support, yet a time when such help matters most. Thankyou to these first donors:

Rob Macfarlane (Bestselling author of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, Chair of Judges for 2013 Man Booker Prize)

Casper Ter Kuile (co-founder of the UK Youth Climate Coalition)

Emma Rose Barber (Historian of Wayfaring – University of Kent)

Julie and Andrew Little (Churchwardens of Wilmington Church, Sussex)

Cox & Jones (BBC Documentary film-makers)

Sophie Wire

David O’Brien

Allan Brown

Paul Yarrow

Terry Yarrow

Karen McMillan

Angela Gurr

Yvonne Crone.


Carmarthen, and the people of Myrddin’s City

window scene

This is the story of meetings made while walking last year, on the oath to Saint Davids (Dewi Sant).

It takes place while Ed and Will were accompanied by Rose, and sees them arrive in Carmarthen, or Caerfyrddin, the City of Merlin.

It tells of Merlin and his Oak, of throwing axes, of Carmarthen Police Force, and of the most beautiful music we’ve ever witnessed in a pub folk-session.


And it has interesting recordings too. So please press ‘more’, and read on…


Our friend Ryan, in the Woods



Ryan Weston. A name that strikes fear into those who watch the Canterbury skies at night. Young women quiver in pale delight, when this monster comes scalloping round the lofty corner.


mr Ryan at ease

Ryan Weston. A pal to us all. When Ed and Will were midst dreadful turmoil this winter, while living in the woods, it was the visit of friends like Ryan who brought the simple smile back to our faces.


Plaw Hatch and the Modern Farm

Plaw Hatch farm is a place where farming still stands for something more than ‘yield’. Food is not something to be ripped from the animals and soil, the result of a bloody war of attrition and siege. Farming is not what happens when an unfair treaty is imposed on nature. All these metaphors are false. May we forget them.


Plaw Hatch farm offers a simpler, kinder alternative to these modern stories of ‘how-farming-must-be’. And if they have managed it, so can others…


Victor Freeman and his War Stories

We met Victor in the Cooper’s Arms, near Crowborough. He was in the Royal Navy during World War II, and enjoyed greatly the sea shanties we were singing that night. “Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy” was his particular favorite. Victor tried toget us singing “Heysborough Light”, but we couldn’t quite follow his melodies. We will look into it further.

HMS Bleasdale -

HMS Bleasdale -

What Victor told us…


Presuming Dr. Livingstone

Our Malawian pop-star pal Kenny, well-met in Canterbury, told us the tale of Dr Livingstone. This story was related over a pot of Early Bird in Simple Simons (now the Parrot).

The accuracy of the story cannot be confirmed, but anyroad, it goes thuswise:
Livingstone was a Scottish Missionary, a man with a great heart, and with the balls of an elephant. As a missionary, he was not hugely successful, being accredited with only one conversion to the Church. But as a hero amongst men, he was (as all heroes) uniquely spectacular.


So what did he do?


Sunrise Celebration

Sunrise Celebration is a festival, and it is a conscious network of hope, technology and music. It is a fine place to learn, about permaculture, eco-technology and lots more, amongst very good people, to razzing music. It is a large village, complete with all sorts of venues, from the Horsedrawn shacks to the rumbling thuds of the Roots stage.  The techno, the swing and the choir all live together happily here.

As an event, it always feels like a festival should, overwhelmingly beautiful and exciting, but friendly and local. It makes for a magnificent and timeless long weekend.

This year a new site, guaranteed to be dry and stunningly beautiful, has been found. It is bound to be a grand affair.

We ended our Southern stroll with a month working for the sunrise Celebration. We were volunteer décor co-ordinators and crew, and had a great time working like furies, trying to manifest an aesthetic from the air and ground.

This work has been continued, and last summer, when the site famously flooded, we had worked for 3 weeks trying to design and assemble the best site-art possible.


Our décor camp, which included our kitchen tent and all our stores, was perpetually stood in a foot of water. This made living tricky, and working for free required all the self-generating optimism our gang could manifest.

But we did it, with struggles that were laughably difficult.

As the last of the giant flowers was dragged over to the stage area, wedged and hammered into the ground, we stood back. All was finished. The décor was up.


Everyone had wet feet, sodden socks, and you were one of the lucky few if there was not a few inches of water inside your tent. It had been sublimely tricky, even to walk around the site and see how things were looking, but especially with a huge wooden piece of central decoration. But we had done it, and there were already thousands of people on-site, with no rain for at least a few hours.

Of course, the moment we felt hopeful, the rain came back harder. A half-hour later, the word went around from site HQ – the festival was off.


We expect it was difficult for everyone, and there was naturally a great sigh of disappointment. But we had no time to waste. Tractors were churning the earth up even more, in efforts to drag the stalls and stages out through the mud. We immediately got on with uprooting all our beautiful work, and trying to get it put away without damage. This took another 5 days in the mud.

It was a beautiful challenge, and a mighty struggle. When we did all take a night to enjoy the music and people who were here for a good time, no matter what, we found the peak of excitement generated by the festival was shining and huge, even after its official culling.



Sunrise. This year, when for the first time we won’t be anywhere near, will be the best event of the festival season. It was so close last year, and many lessons have been learned. We say: Go, go there, with your friends and family, and have a ball. It is educational, healthy, and joyous.


Save Tara

Protecting the hill of Tara from a four lane motorway.

The Ancient hill of Tara is under threat. A four lane motorway is planned to bulldoze right through it.

This is the centre of ancient Ireland, part of a huge complex of incredible sites. The Irish equivalent of Stone Henge.


For the sake of faster transport we are putting at risk our most ancient historical places.

Perhaps they’ll submit plans to convert Canterbury Cathedral into 2 bedroom apartments.


A petition to the Irish government.

More detailed explanations of present situation and how you can help at:

Dig For Victory


Have you heard of Codex Alimentarius?

It is an attempt by the World Trade Organisation and World Food Organisation to control and manipulate the food chain.

The latest in a long line of attempts to make natural medicine illegal will
be imposed on the UK by the United Nations on 31 December 2009, unless the UK Government can be persuaded to reject it.

The WFO intends to change Codex from guideline to rule of law. The suggested implementations would classify all vitamins, minerals, herbs and
supplements as “toxins”, and will require that all foods are irradiated
and “made safe” with a cocktail of pharmaceutical ingredients (not
apparently “toxins”).

This may presage the end of organic agriculture and natural medicine.


Baz, Barnstaple, Cornwall.

Walking out of Barnstaple, we were jolly from our the first busk in some time. The town drinkers had been inspired to start singing, and we spotted them knocking out Aerosmith songs to slightly shocked shoppers. They had good, if slightly rough edged voices. They held the tunes, with animated delivery. As we were walking out of town, they ran after us with their hatful of money, laughing, saying they’d got enough for a cider each. They tried to give us a cut of the money, for reminding them of this old trick, but we said “hold onto it”. We wonder if they took this further, and started learning, arranging and practising songs, or if it was an afternoon’s fun and no more?