Reflections on a Celtic pilgrimage around Wales, Cornwall and Brittany

Inspired by a couple the author met on her first pilgrimage (recorded in A Pilgrimage Around Wales, Y Lolfa, 2018) and the ‘gentle but firm challenge’ of another acquaintance during her walk asking “How will you stop this time becoming just a distant memory?”, Anne Hayward set about planning a second pilgrimage to preserve the memory of her previous walk around Wales and to build upon her knowledge of Celtic cultures shared by Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. A Celtic Pilgrimage (Y Lolfa) is a record of the reflections, experiences and insights from that journey.

In the spring, summer and autumn of 2016, a year after walking around Wales, Anne Hayward set out on foot from her home in Abergavenny, South Wales. Over almost four months, she visited some of South Wales, the West of England and Brittany’s most holy sites, and ranging from the Moravian Church in Brockweir to Wesley Cottage in Trewint and the ancient cathedrals at Saint-Pol-de-Léon and Tréguier.

As with her previous pilgrimage, Anne carried with her everything she needed and stayed at campsites along the way. In A Celtic Pilgrimage she gives some of the history of those ancient places of pilgrimage and reflects on the spiritual experience of being a modern-day pilgrim. 

“I had never considered that my experiences on my pilgrimage around Wales – which were so exciting and so engrossing – would become ‘just a distant memory’, and I certainly never imagined the first pilgrimage leading to a second!” said Anne Hayward. “As I walked around Wales, I begun to grasp how many of the early Celtic saints of Wales were also associated with Cornwall and Brittany and thought a pilgrimage learning more about Celtic history would be a wonderful way to continue.”

In the Foreword the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, writes “Anne Hayward’s engaging journey is a journey in the footsteps of those Celtic saints, and follows them in spirit too. It’s a journey of discovery as Anne discovers places all too easily hidden and missed by trunk roads and bypasses: the kind of places you can only really reach on foot.”

A Pilgrimage Around Wales was described in The Reader CE Magazine by Hugh Morley as “fascinating and unusual in style. Much preparation and research were put into the pilgrimage before one step was taken from her home.”  

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