London to Walsingham Pilgrimage
St Mary's Church Saffron Walden is on the resurrected London to Walsingham Pilgrimage route and where visiting pilgrims can stamp their official passports which can also used on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain.
Before Henry VIII outlawed pilgrimages and the veneration of saints in 1538, the route from London to the shrine at Walsingham in Norfolk was the most popular pilgrimage in England.
This resurrected route has been given official recognition by the Confraternity of St James, better known for their organisation of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. That means any pilgrim who walks at least 25km of it will be able to use that 25km towards the total of 100km that must be walked in order to get the official credencial on reaching Santiago.
The 178 mile route is in13 stages, each averaging about 14 miles, and passes through Saffron Walden, and St Mary’s is one of the 19 churches that now has its own pilgrimage stamp (see above) that pilgrims can use to stamp their passports en route. Passports can be ordered from the Confraternity of St James - www.csj.org.uk
Andy Bull (author of the London to Walsingham Camino) will be walking the full route 11-25 April 2023. Anyone interested is invited to walk with with him along any part of the route. Details and a provisional timetable can be found here. The Saffron Walden to Withersfield section will take place on Sat 15th April and is 14 miles and will take about 5 hours.
Andy Bull has written a 192 page comprehensive guide to this route called the “London to Walsingham Camino – The Pilgrim’s Guide” published by trailblazer-guides.com and also available from bookshops and Amazon. This guide has a forward by the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who has walked to Walsingham twice, and says “I am delighted that the route from London to Walsingham is now better established and therefore more available for other pilgrims and also drawn into the network of pilgrimages under the umbrella of the Confraternity of Saint James. Walsingham is England’s Nazareth, the place where we encounter, in a fresh and homely way, the truth of the incarnation that in Christ, God has come among us. When we walk to Walsingham this truth is amplified and magnified; we discover that the incarnate God is with us every step of the way.”
Stage 4 describes the walk between Stansted Mountfitchet and Saffron Walden and Stage 5 is from Saffron Walden to Withersfield and is shown on this map on the right, taken from the guide. You do need to purchase Andy Bull’s guide to be able to follow the route. It has a map of each stage and has detailed walking instructions. Click on the map to enlarge.
The whole route which can be found in the guide is shown below.