Writing the article sparked a keen desire to walk the Way myself. I'm a fairly fit walker and while I'm not a Christian, I am fascinated by the lives of these 7th century Saxon saints and their interconnecting stories. Werberga was the Christian sister of the pagan Mercian princes Wulfad and Rufin who secretly converted to Christianity after encountering Chad when they were out hunting. (Their father, the pagan King Wulfhere of Mercia and his Christian wife Queen Ermenilda, had agreed to raise their daughters as Christians but their sons as pagans.) When Wulfhere learned of his sons' conversion, in a fit of rage, he had them slain at or near Stone, where their grave, marked by a cairn of stones, gave rise to its own pilgrimage.
|David Pott leading the first pilgrim party round|
Castle Ring on Cannock Chase, April 2012
The route runs on existing rights of way and shortly before setting out, I recconnoitred some of the cross-country sections both on my own and with my husband, Simon. But now, an admission - I did not always keep to the route exactly. Constraints of time plus the need to find suitably located overnight stops meant that I cut out the detours to many places of interest plus the Salt - Stafford section.
My initial idea was to walk it completely alone, but having so much enjoyed the company of friends and family who had joined me for the 55 miles of the Leeds-Liverpool canal I did last May, I decided to maximise the social experience and find as many walking companions as possible. To all of you who walked with me - and to all you met up with me or offered me hospitality en route, and especially to Simon, who not only provided transport but has ended up walking most of the Way himself, I cannot thank you all enough for making my pilgrimage walk a truly moving experience. Now read on...