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.


9 Responses to “The British Pilgrimage Trust”

  1. Nick Cooke says:

    Dear BPT,

    I suggest it would be useful and important to explore your future working links with the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum, now 3 years in existence and a registered Scottish Charity since last November. We have grown into a network of over 5o organisations and individuals committed to developing off-road pilgrimage travel across all of Scotland, with work on at least three long distance pilgrim walking routes in progress. The revival of pilgrimage here is alive and well!

    See our (very basic) website and leaflet for more information. I provide secretariat support to the Forum on a pro bono consultancy basis.

    SPRF will be holding its third annual Scottish Pilgrimage Gathering at Old Melrose in the Scottish Borders on Friday 2nd October. It would be good for BPT to be represented there.

    Best wishes.


    P.S. David Pott, who is closely involved in the development of the Sannox Christian Centre on Arran, alerted me to BPT last autumn. It has taken me till now to make contact with you.

  2. Hi Will,

    I’ve just made a video using some of the audio when we were in conversation in Castle Street last summer (you’d just walked from Elham). It covers the origins of pilgrimage, the history of Canterbury, and your work in establishing the Trust. This is the lastest episode of my videoblog “The Reality Report” Feel free to spread the link, and keep up the good work!


  3. Jill Hemmings says:

    This is a wonderful initiative . Congratulations. Just heard these two inspiring, beautiful young men singing at the Asylum seekers pilgrimage in Kent ,a truly remarkable occasion. Having walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostella to recover from a broken marriage I know the value of going on pilgrimage and heartily recommend it. Can’t wait to start a pilgrimage in beautiful Britain but accommodation would need to be Camino prices! Pilgrim evening meals too please. Thank you. Jill

  4. Avril Loveless says:

    I’m delighted to ‘stumble across’ you for a number of reasons. We shall meet on the Refugee Tales event in June, as I am one of the walking group and also interested in pilgrimage. I look forward to hearing more. I’ve just made a small donation in your hat.
    best wishes,

  5. Howard Richards says:

    Oops, think it was probably Hayward & Parsons we met, didn’t ask their names.

  6. Howard Richards says:

    Met Will and Guy as they were walking along the Icknield Way in south Cambridgeshire on their way to Walsingham last Sunday. We were metal detecting in a nearby field and they stopped to talk.

    If the benefits of pilgrimage are reflected in these two upbeat, positive two chaps then I think we’ll have to give it a go. A more life-enhancing pair it would be difficult to meet.

    All power to you in this great enterprise.

  7. Prisca Hastings says:

    Please please detail your route to Walsingham, preferably with a map. Walsingham was a key pilgrimage site, and young people including all who are young at heart, need a route from London.

    Happy Easter, and let me know when you hope to arrive in Walsingham.

    Claude Fisher’s book, in Fakenham library, informed me about Walsingham – a place for unity.

    Best wishes,

    Prisca Hastings

  8. Sandra Lanigan says:

    Lovely to meet Will and Guy (and Holly) when they were singing in the High Street of Rye this morning – beautiful melodious harmonious songs to cheer us all on our way. I am hoping to put somethingin the local news online – check out Rye news online in a few days!

  9. Emma Rose Barber says:

    I have just left a small donation. This is truly a wonderful idea and I wish you all good fortune along this important path. I love walking, but have not done the Winchester to Canterbury route and would love an opportunity to join with others in so doing. I have written a thesis on the wayfarer (who I define as another type of pilgrim), as witnessed in a group of fourteenth-century English Psalters, probably illuminated in East Anglia. So I am particularly interested in this endeavour and would like to get involved or be kept informed of progress, meetings, activities etc.
    Oh and I adore your dog, and the singing.
    All good wishes,
    Emma Rose Barber

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