Sacred Steps Podcast

2: Interview with Pilgrim Pathways author Andy Bull

Episode Summary

English author and columnist Andy Bull ( joins Author Kevin Donahue ( to discuss Andy's new book - Pilgrim Pathways - exploring twenty weekend walks across England's ancient footpaths. A Kent native, Andy shares his local insights on one of Kevin's upcoming pilgrimages: England's Pilgrims' Way from London to Canterbury. A companion to the book Sacred Steps: A Pilgrimage Journal by Kevin Donahue, the Sacred Steps Podcast walks virtually alongside authors and pilgrims, connecting a community of pilgrims from across the globe. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for the Sacred Steps Podcast, please visit or email

Episode Notes

Podcast Homepage -


English author and columnist Andy Bull ( joins Author Kevin Donahue ( to discuss Andy's new book - Pilgrim Pathways - exploring twenty walks across England's ancient footpaths. A Kent native, Andy shares his local insights on one of Kevin's upcoming pilgrimage walks: England's Pilgrims' Way to Canterbury.


Pilgrim Pathways - Available from Trailblazer Guides and Amazon


England's Pilgrims' Way from London to Canterbury

The Pilgrims’ Way (also Pilgrim’s Way or Pilgrims Way) is England’s ancient pilgrimage route linking both Winchester and London to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at the Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, England. Followed by kings and fabled in literature such as the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, the modern route follows the historic Roman road and parallels the North Downs Way. From Canterbury, some may continue pilgrimage to Rome along Europe’s Via Francigena. To learn more about these pilgrim pathways, please visit Kevin's blog online at





Andy Bull is a keen walker, journalist, and author who has written travel pieces for The Times, the Daily Telegraph, The Independent, the Mail on Sunday, and The Tablet. When he wanted to go on a pilgrimage that could be completed in a weekend and found no suitable guides were available, he realized he would have to find a route for himself. He found 20, and Pilgrim Pathways is the result.

Andy has also published two travel books on America, guides to English trails for mountain bikers, and local history books drawing on his Kentish roots. His next project is a book on Britain's Great North Road.


MEET THE HOST:  Kevin Donahue

Husband. Father. Backpacker. Pilgrim. Author.

In 2019, Kevin Donahue set off from his home in the United States to begin a pilgrimage journey spanning both years and miles, walking across continents to the ancient end of the world, to kneel at the tombs of eight Apostles. Available for Easter 2022, Sacred Steps: A Pilgrimage Journal, is Kevin's first-hand account of the people and places found along the way to inspire questions and enlighten answers about faith, hope, and love.



Sacred Steps: A Pilgrimage Journal

Available from print and digital booksellers for Easter 2022, Sacred Steps: A Pilgrimage Journal is the first-person account of a reluctant pilgrim navigating the eternal questions of faith while walking along the world’s revered paths. The book follows one man’s journey through Portugal and Spain on the Camino de Santiago, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean connecting California’s Missions Trail, across England’s ancient Pilgrims’ Way, and onward towards Rome via Europe’s forgotten footpaths on a journey of soulful discovery. More than a travelogue, Sacred Steps: A Pilgrimage Journal is a first-hand account of a pilgrim's journey and the people and places he finds to inspire questions and enlighten answers about faith, hope, and love.


Episode Transcription

Announcer  0:08  

Walking virtually along the world's most revered footpaths, and connecting the global community of pilgrims, it's the sacred steps podcast available on YouTube and your favorite podcast app broadcasting from the shame air studios in Florida. Here's your host pilgrim, backpacker, and author, Kevin Donahue.


Kevin Donahue  0:37  

Buen camino pilgrims and welcome back to the Sacred Steps Podcast. on this show, we're walking virtually alongside pilgrims and authors connecting a community of pilgrims from across the world. I'm your host, Kevin Donahue, backpacker, pilgrim and author of sacred steps a pilgrimage journal.


On this episode we're talking to author and backpacker Andy Bull, his new book pilgrim pathways, details 20 short walks across the English countryside to sacred sites, shrines and cathedrals in Scotland, England and Wales.


Stay tuned after our interview for details on our upcoming episode, and subscribe to the podcast so that our episodes download automatically to your phone or device.


And now on with the show. Let's welcome Andy Bull to the sacred steps podcast.


Andy Bull  1:32  

Hi, Kevin. Great to be here.


Kevin Donahue  1:33  

Lovely to have you, Andy. I'm so excited about your new book, pilgrims pathways. And I'm glad that glad that we could talk about it on the show today, because this is an area English pilgrimage where I have a great interest. And there's a lot of story to tell. So I think if you don't mind, maybe give our audience just a quick overview of the book and these weekend escapes that you've outlined.


Andy Bull  1:59  

Sure, well, so there's a couple of things to be said, I suppose about pilgrimage in the British Isles. And one is that there's a historic context, which is that we had a guy called Henry the Eighth you might have heard of, and having previously been defender of the faith and a great friend of the Pope, he fell out with the pope over marital issues. And essentially, the Reformation came, and Henry and his men and Cranwell went around the country and destroying everything they could, of what they considered by then religious idolatry, all the pilgrim pilgrim points, all the shrines all the places, which for centuries and centuries, English, Welsh, Scottish people had been going to. And it was a very important part of everyday life, everyone hoped to go on a pilgrimage of some kind, as today, every Muslim will hope to go to Mecca. And he wiped it out from the 1530s. It was illegal, it was illegal to be a Catholic, it was legal to revere the saints, a whole tradition, a whole way of life, a whole important spiritual aspect of the lives of the people of this country, were destroyed. And it wasn't really until the 19th century. And when a couple of things happened, you had the it was no longer illegal to be a Catholic, which was kind of handy because I happened to be a Catholic, so that was good. And it was also that people, all sorts of people, people, I suppose, of all faiths, and none started to think about pilgrimage, and to rediscover it, the shrine started to get uncovered. All the remnants were found shrines were rebuilt, pilgrimage started again. So that's like the historic aspect. The other thing is, I have been interested in pilgrimage for quite a long time. But I found a real problem, which is that, like a lot of people, I have quite a busy life, lots of commitments, it'd be very hard for me to get away to do a full length pilgrimage, and lots of pilgrimages are pretty long, you know, the Via francigena, from from London, down to Rome, pretty long. It's got to be over 1000 miles. The, the, the compostella route, not sure quite how long that is, but it's long. There are many old pilgrimage routes in in England, which are also there and have been rediscovered. But again, they're very long. So what I felt I needed was a pilgrimage I could do in a weekend. So I started to look at the sites that there were at the roots that there were and to see what I could do to create a kind of edited highlights, which will still count as a pilgrimage they'll still be pretty tough. He's still walking 2030 miles, it's still you know, strenuous, vigorous, and that they go to the most amazing places either to some kind of fantastic conclusions. So a saint shrine, often within a cathedral. Other times are much more obscure place and then along the way that would be old pilgrim shrines. Holy crosses, holy wells, other places. Have reverence or which date back to before the Reformation that people could rediscover and and when I started looking I found pretty quickly found 20 of them, and was able to interest a publisher in it and, and we did it. And it was originally going to be weekend pilgrimages, but the kind of COVID situation has meant that we understand a lot of people are very nervous about being away from home too long, staying away from home too long. So I've also adapted them so that they can also be done as day walks. And very often you can get in on public transport, get in on a train, do the walk, train home. So I've hoped that I've tried to make it as relevant and appropriate and easy to follow in the current pandemic situations as we can.


Kevin Donahue  5:47  

Brilliant and we're talking with Andy bull. his new book is pilgrim pathways from Trailblazer guides, I will put the links to Andy's new book in the show notes. Andy, I am so excited because as you said, there are a lot of paths through the UK and your book outlines through England, Scotland, Wales. So if you're interested in taking some of these trips, journeying to the UK, or if you live in the British Isles, these are great weekend. And as Andy said, even same day opportunities. Take a look at the guidebook, because he's mapped out the GPS tracks, you can simply download them to your device and follow along. But these are just experiences to take in. And I'm so fascinated with the ones you chose because, as you said, You found a lot of routes and there are a number of shrines, monasteries, Abbey's and temples and cathedrals that you could have chosen. So I'm wondering if you could maybe highlight one or two of your pilgrim paths that stand out that our audience may want to focus on either for their accessibility, their historical nature or the spirituality of these walks.


Andy Bull  7:04  

Absolutely, Kevin, so stop me if I go on too long, but I'll run through a couple and see how you do that is


Kevin Donahue  7:10  

normally my problem. Maybe you stop me if we go on to.


Andy Bull  7:15  

Yeah, so there's, there's there's one that I'd like to mention particularly and it's in West Sussex. It goes from a town called hazlemere, to another town called Chichester, and it goes through amazing countryside down land, the South downs. And there are two interesting aspects of this pilgrimage. One is there is a connection with William Blake, now, particularly for UK readers, Blake's very resonant character he wrote a poem called, which was which ran and did those feet in ancient times walk upon England's mountain green. And it goes back to a myth, a legend that there has been for centuries and centuries, that Jesus as a young man may have come to this country crazy though it sounds with his tiene de la, Uncle Joseph and Ira mafia. Era Joseph we know was a tin dealer and the West area of England was a big tin area. And we believe and there are various other legends that are come to one of the other walks about now Blake was winning walking in there that our pilgrimage goes through, started thinking about that looking at a particular Hill, he started thinking about, you know, could it be could that myth be true? And then the the, the poem got put to music by a guy called Hubert Perry and it became a hymn called Jerusalem. You know, there's another line from Blaker, and was Jerusalem builded here in England's green and pleasant land, and that's very resonant, very resonant for for a UK audience. So that's one aspect of this pilgrimage. The other is a guy called St. Richard and his shrine is at Chichester at the end of the walk. And he was the, the monk and the abbot at Chichester was martyred for his beliefs and there's a very well I think pretty well known prayer that he had that you that some some listeners viewers may remember. And it's got three lines in it which are again very resonant they go, may I know the more clearly love the more dearly follow the more nearly and the thing about this, this this route is you get on the old pilgrimage route to St. Richard shrine. This was before that before the Reformation before Henry eights time. This was the third most popular pilgrimage in England almost forgotten that Richard apart from people knowing the lines of that of that prayer is almost completely forgotten. Blake is known about but Blake got the got the idea and did those feet from a hill called the trundle which is overlooks from the top of the hill you can see and Chichester. And then along the way, you know, we stop at pilgrim churches. Very Ancient section pilgrim churches, other places, sites of reverence some of them pre Christian, because what you do find with these things is that before they were Christian sites, they were pagan sites, Celtic pagan sites, Druid sites. And what happened quite a lot was when Christianity came, if there was a point at which a particular God, pagan god was being, being praised, being being prayed to, you planted church on top of it. So it's a kind of acquiring, acquiring the places the significant places to people and significant in their, in their their lives of faith and belief.


Kevin Donahue  10:38  

There's a lot of stories about the of different places where the purpose of the sites have evolved through different ways. You have you've outlined that in the book and one that I think our audience, especially in Europe, and those from the States who may be considering traveling to the UK may be very interested in reconnecting with is what you have identified correctly as the English camino. Can you talk a little bit about thatroute?


Andy Bull  11:10  

Absolutely. That this this is very interesting. So this room, this is in county, Durham, in the north of England, and it goes from a very small village called Escom up through Durham, wonderful city, my favorite city in the country and on to a place called Fincher Priory. And the point about that and why it's called the English camino is that if you go back to the 12th century, there was a guy called godrich, who was a sailor, he on his voyages all around the Mediterranean and further afield. He also combined them with pilgrimages. We know he went to Rome, and we believe he went at least twice to Santiago. And when he came back to the UK when he finished his his days at sea, he was given by the monks at Durham, he was given a place to create a pilgrimage sorry, a shrine or a, you know, a place where, where a holy person hermit would live, he was given a hermitage on the river north of Durham. And a tradition developed that if you did the English community, this route that I've mentioned, going from Fincher down to Escom, if you did that route, and then you went as an English as an English Program, to compostella, you got 25 kilometers off the total that you needed. So it was like doing your first step. And very recently, and about four years ago, a group develop called the, I think they called the financial, the financial community, they decided to restore this and they have done and sure enough, if you're an English Program, and you do the English kameda, you still got your 25 kilometers off towards your route, when you finally get finally get to Spain.


Kevin Donahue  12:49  

Well, and that's an important note for those who are considering pilgrimage to Santiago de compostella. Because in order to obtain the compostella, you need to complete at least 100 kilometers. So here's an opportunity within England to go ahead and complete 25 of those and is recognized by the cathedral and Santiago for its spiritual nature and for the connection it has to Santiago. So even if you're not doing the Camino de Santiago, this English portion is a really great way to celebrate the faith of the Camino. And then I was touched by and and really interested in the St. Andrews way, which you said along the coastline from Fife, because there are some, some some caves and such that are better holy caves from the hermit.


Andy Bull  13:48  

Yeah. Well, the big draw here is St. Andrew, so the patron saint of Scotland, and there is a town city rather called St. Andrews. And the story there is that I mean, this is a myth, but it's a wonderful myth, which is that sin rule came in the year 347. So quite a long time ago, with relics of St. Andrew, and he was shipwrecked and landed on the coast at where St. Andrews is now and established a church and then and then later a cathedral. And that became the key pilgrimage place in Scotland. It was a massively massively important but to get there and it's quite it's remote. As you mentioned, it's along the Fife coast. Now the five coast is incredibly rocky coasts. You've got north of Edinburgh, rocky coast. I mean it's it's a tough, proven route. I have a lot of warnings about don't go when it's high tide because you will not get through certain bits of it. So that that aside, the in about the 11th 12th century, the Earl of Fife decided to try and help pilgrims so he established a ferry which would take them when they're coming from the south from Edinburgh and so take them across the Firth of Forth seven miles from North America. And they would land at a place which became known as Ellsbury. And my, my pilgrimage starts elsewhere. He was bringing over by the way, 10 15,000 pilgrims every year. And this is we're talking five 600 years ago. This was a long time ago. So anyway, so you get to Earl's ferry, and then you go around the coast. And what you find is that you get and you come to points where there are a whole string of kind of Celtic hermits who since become saints. So one of the first places you get to is a place called some some moans. And Samoan was, again, a hermit, he had a little hermitage, just in a you know, cave or a rocky premonitory out on the coast. But there was a king, king David, the second of Scotland was suffering from some terrible mortal wounds after a battle, and he couldn't, he couldn't heal them. And he went to this place prior to that moment, and was cured. And after that he built the church there. You got around this, a couple of just mentioned what other because I can go about this. So then there's a wonderful little fishing village called pittenweem. And, and there was a, there was a there's a cave there to a saint called sin, Fillion. Now you get to pittenweem. It's a lovely fishing village, you can picture a little windy streets, there's this huge lump of rock, it looks like a massive piece of popcorn with a little door in it, and that was st Filene's cave, and that you can go there, but it's locked up. But you go to the coffee shop in the village asked to borrow the key, hopefully buy a coffee while you're there, go in, and it's just this amazing place. And there are others I could tell you, there's about another three or four incredible ancient places along the way, you know, again, probably pre Christian in our origin.


Announcer  16:43  

The conversation continues momentarily. For information and links from the show, visit sacred steps know someone considering pilgrimage share this episode as a text from your device. Thank you for listening. To support the show, please leave a star rating in your podcast app. And now the sacred steps podcast continues.


Kevin Donahue  17:11  

If you're just joining us, we're talking with Andy bull, his new book, pilgrims pathways, we're detailing some of the routes across England, Scotland and Wales. It's a great guide to single day or short camino experience through the traditional English pilgrim pathways, two to three day trips. So if you're coming into the UK, this is a great way to add a day or two of adventure to your experience while you're in the British Isles. And he's written several other books, we'll link them in the show notes. And please check those out. But columnist and author Andy bull joins us on the sacred steps podcast outlining his new book. One. Andy, I want to talk to you about some artifacts, because this is so fascinating to me. It just speaks so much to the English tradition of pilgrimage. And I I wonder if you could talk about any of the type of tokens and shrines trinkets that people may have taken home with them from any of these pilgrimages?


Andy Bull  18:19  

Yeah, well, so like you have the, the the shell that you've got from the the compostella, you had different badges for different pilgrimages. And there was actually quite a practical reason for this because they're often very often going to the shrine of a saint. And what people started doing was chipping bits off them. And that wasn't good because you if you're getting 15,000 people a year, and they all chip a little bit off, there's not going to be a lot left of the of the of the shrine. I'm going to hold one up to the camera now if, if if you can see this, and so this is one that I bought in Westminster Abbey, so Westminster Abbey is our finest church. It's the finest English church and it the shrine there is to St. Edward the Confessor, who was the second to last Saxon King This is going back before we had the last time we were invaded in 1066 when the Normans came over and started rebuilding all our churches. Okay, we've got long memory, we don't forget these things. And we don't make that happen again,


Kevin Donahue  19:13  

we haven't forgotten that happened.


Andy Bull  19:14  



Kevin Donahue  19:15  



Andy Bull  19:17  

as well on that, but we'll draw a veil over that. Yeah, so so that that's one that I you can buy in the in the shop there. And it's still a great thing to do. And you also now get pilgrim passports quite often, and not as many as I'd like to see. I'd love to see more of those coming. Yeah. And I can mention something about the shrines themselves. I don't know if you're interested in that.


Kevin Donahue  19:36  

Well, I just before you go, before we go into that I do want to mention to everyone who's who's listening, so the the cathedrals this year, and you know, frankly 2020 has been a a year of plans dashed for many during the global pandemic, but 2020 was to be the year of the English cathedrals and so Throughout the English network of cathedrals, there is a pilgrims passport that has been published by the Anglican Church. And so you can reach out and get this passport in any of the cathedrals. And as you're visiting them, whether you're making a backpacking type pilgrimage, or you're just going through and coming to, you know, a motorcar type transport or whatever it may be, we want you to, to go ahead and and get these passports and mark your progress as you go. So the cathedrals and the the shops are happy to stamp them for you, and mark your pilgrimage. And I'm sorry, I didn't mean to talk over you there, please.


Andy Bull  20:45  

No, no, no, not at all. And it's also worth adding to that, Kevin, that many, many of the shrines which were destroyed in about the last over the last century have been restored, they've been revived. So pilgrimages come back, and it's not just you know, Catholics are more conscious of it, I think. But Anglicans, people of all faiths, and none. The the Orthodox Church in this country also, you know, it's it's a it's a it's a, it's a tradition that a lot of us are choosing to reclaim whether whatever we believe we're choosing to reclaim


Kevin Donahue  21:14  

Yeah, well and great point, because there are a lot of faiths practice throughout the UK. And I'm, I'm sort of this hybrid because I grew up in the Methodist Church. So we have that English Methodist tradition of Wesley's okay. Yeah, it I, I'm been excited about this book, I have pored through a lot of the pages. I'm planning if everything goes well, to be in the UK, and to begin pilgrimage in London, making my way to the shrine of St. Thomas Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral. And I know you're familiar with this route. So I want to talk a little bit about the English pilgrims way. For those of you who are listening and are interested in this route, I'll link it in the show notes. So please pop over because we have an outline of some itineraries. And Andy, maybe talk about I'm going from London, but this route also extends a bit more traditionally further.


Andy Bull  22:15  

Well, there is and that's that's a new, I mean, first of all, the program is way Yeah, it's the most famous probably because of Chaucer. So you know, 14th century English author, who decides that to write a book in which he goes with a group of pilgrims and they tell stories as pilgrims did. And they start from Southern which is on the south coast, south bank of the Thames in the centre of London. And they started traditionally from an inn called the tabard now, the tabloids not there anymore. But a very, very similar in quoted, George is, these are kind of galleried ins, if you can picture, you go into a courtyard, there's a building all around you. It's got balconies all around it rooms above little bars in the George's most fantastic pub. And that's the closest you can get to a kind of program experience that,


Kevin Donahue  23:02  

but I'm the I have to stop you. Because what I hear you saying is, during my pilgrimage, it would be traditional for me to stop in at the pub, and maybe have a pint before I go is this is that is that in keeping with the pilgrimage tradition? I need to do this because I can so Andy Bull sent me....


Andy Bull  23:24  

Yeah, it absolutely is. I mean, you know, Chaucer has a lot of fun that about the people why they're going and you know, and questioning their motives. And let's face it, a lot of them had, you know, suspect motives, they were hoping to buy time out of purgatory and, you know, some Southern wanting cures, they wanted something. And some of them are quite rich, and they want to have a great time. But even the ordinary person it would be, it will be a celebration. I mean, I was in Turkey once and I and we were in a couch and we and a massive brick queue of cars was coming towards us on this remote road. Massive true and I said what are they doing? They're going to crash into it and he said they're coming back from Mecca, they're very happy. And I suspect Pokemons went you know, they were very happy they were doing an amazing thing, something they might only do once in their lifetime. So it should be a joyous event. And there's nothing more Jewish to me than a pint of English beer in a nice pub and possibly a plate of fish and chips so you definitely should do that.


Kevin Donahue  24:17  

I will definitely be doing that. I'm going to be going from from London so I'll be starting right there and helped me because you know my American tongue gets in the way we would expect to say Southwark Cathedral but it is Suffolk Suffolk Cathedral Sol, Sol,


Andy Bull  24:34  

Sol, UK.


Kevin Donahue  24:35  

I'll work on that one. Yeah, the other I've got really well I know I'm gonna make it to Canterbury but also this there is a route of this pilgrimage that starts actually in Winchester, right?


Andy Bull  24:50  

Okay. Yes. So there is another branch of the of the the traditional programs vary from Winchester, which is about halfway along England along the south coast. Just Justin Land. So that was another branch for those who weren't coming, obviously via London but a lot of people came to London and then went down some of the some of the which the pilgrims wouldn't have got to London, they would have gone along a row, a range of high hills to the south of London, some would have gone by boat, but anyone who was coming either from London or from the north of England, as many, many of them would, would get to London, and then they would all group together and they would go down from Southern.


Kevin Donahue  25:28  

Yeah, I'll be walking essentially that route along the Thames making my way to a very traditional pilgrim Cathedral in Rochester. Where, if you're interested in the Rochester Cathedral, you know, many of the English cathedrals have a pilgrims door. It's one that does have a pilgrims door. And you feel such a great connection with the history because you can see the stones themselves have been worn as pilgrims, for almost 1000 years have made these pilgrim pathways and routes to these holy and sacred places. This route connects to the north downs way. And it takes us through Andy's boyhood home in bed, so give us a bit of perspective on this walk. Because you know, it's so very well.


Andy Bull  26:22  

Yeah, well, yeah, it's something that I've known. I mean, we went to live quite near Rochester. I mean, watch us as a town in a kind of innovation versus the nice bit. There's a lot of horrible towns and I live in one of the horrible towns but I was on the edge of town, the countryside and as you say the route goes from Rochester, it picks up the North down. So this is chalk downs, you're walking high. So it would have been a good route in bad weather and we get a little bit of that here. Good in winter. And it's now it's now Elaine actually there is a there's it's a it's a tarmacs lane called the pilgrims way and it runs right along the downs it goes through various villages and I lived in a village quite close to it. So I just just familiar with it. You know my first knowledge of the the idea of pilgrimages was seeing those those road signs as I cycled on my bike around that area. But you will find as you go along that road, you'll find old pilgrim hostelries, which there would have been every few miles ins. And we're hoping that Arthur COVID ins will open again, that's a little we're a little worried in this country about a big part of our tradition that that's under threat because of this, because they'd been making no money for most of the year. But you will find these amazing places, you'll go through all the villages, I think chillum is on it. I'm not so familiar with that end, but there are lovely little villages going all the way down to Canterbury.


Kevin Donahue  27:36  

Absolutely. And for more details on the pilgrims way, we'll link it in the show notes below. But as you what you mentioned, one of the little pubs in ins, you know, you come from Rochester, and you make your way down to the north downs way and connect from the river and coming through, you pass the Robin Hood pub there so aptly named, these historical references, right, but it's a great place, great spot to get just a bite. As you go. You make your way on in through. And there's the black horse in my favorite I got to stop in because it's so aptly named the dirty habit pub, which is a great play on words, for those who may be making pilgrimage, and our priests are probably rolling their eyes as they're hearing this but the dirty habit pub is definitely one to stop it as you're going through all the way up to Canterbury, reach the Canterbury Cathedral, the shrine of St. Thomas Beckett. And from here pilgrims have some choices, because my plan is to continue on. And I'll walk to Dover and then onward towards Rome, as you said, it's one of those epic epic pilgrimages that I hope to complete the via francigena. And there are options also for pilgrims who may just be taking transit to Canterbury. You can take the train from London directly to Canterbury and then you can continue on. So there are pilgrimages that actually begin in Canterbury or connect Canterbury, and one of them is up through the Northwest and you want to talk a little bit about in your book and I'm sorry, I know we're keeping you a little long....


Andy Bull  29:18  

Yeah, absolutely. Well, this is quite interesting, because you know, as you say, if anyone's heard about pilgrimage in the UK, in England, they will know about the the pilgrims way from London to Canterbury. And it was a very famous pilgrimage until, you know, so it's, but there is there is an older pilgrimage. There's a pilgrimage that in the 600 years is 600 years older than that tradition, and that is the pilgrimage for St. Central Gustin now St. Augustine is the man who from Rome, Re christianized, Southern England, and we think that Christianity was probably a minority faith during the Roman occupation which has ended in the sort of the fifth century But after that England became pagan. So, in, in the in in the year 597, St. Augustine was sent from Rome to christianized, England and he came to Kent and he landed at Ramsgate. The first thing he had to do was convert the king, king ethelbert who was a pagan, if he did that, he'd be okay. Now he had a he had a card to play. Albert's wife, Bertha was French and she was Christian. So he had a kind of in. So when you get when you get to Ramsgate, you get you get a route where there is a place called St. Augustine's cross where he did his first his first sermon, and you you go up through to Canterbury along the way, you get some amazing again, amazing churches and it's a wonderful route. You come to a place just outside Canterbury called fordwich. Where there is a Romanesque to and the local story is that that is St. Augustine's two there's no proof to it. But it but it but it's a belief and it's just an A little a little village church. And when you get to kantrovitz you say there's the cathedral. But there's two other things. Because when, when Augustine and his monks got to Canterbury, they first prayed in a church that Bertha prayed in St. Martin's church, that church is still there, you can still go to it. It's the oldest church continuously occupied church in the English speaking world. It's remarkable. It's a fantastic place. And then you get between that and Canterbury Cathedral is St. Augustine's Abbey which he built and where he was buried we don't know what happened to his body but but it but it was completely destroyed by Henry so August is a kind of forgotten saint because when you think about it, you know the worship got sent David the Scots have got so dad, we settle Gustin until very recently, not really thought about but then what happened was and if we if I take you back to rounds get to the start. There was a guy a Victorian architect called Augustus Pugin, AWS Pugin, who was an incredibly influential in the Catholic revival in this country, and in rediscovering traditional Gothic architecture and he built many hundreds of churches, not just Catholic Anglican churches as well. But he built himself a house, on the cliffs at Ramsgate, overlooking St. Augustine's cross, and he named after the saint. And in only in 2012, it was decided that we needed a National Shrine for St. Augustine, because of his importance in our in our Christian tradition, and there wasn't one. So they established one, not at Canterbury, as you might think, but in Putin's church at Ramsgate. So one of my walks, is I go from Ramsgate, and link up at Canterbury, but you could if you're coming to Canterbury, and you're thinking of going further on, you could always reverse things, go on down to Ramsgate. And then you will be on the on the oldest, one of the oldest, you know, pilgrimages ways, as I say, 600 years older than the Beckett pilgrimage. Once you're at Ramsgate, you can get a trainer on the coast, Dover and pick up your route again.


Kevin Donahue  33:09  

That's fantastic. We're talking with Andy Bull, author of pilgrim pathways from Trailblazer. We'll link the book in the show notes, because clearly, there are some exciting and historical routes that he has identified. He narrowed it down somehow to 20. In short walks, one day, and weekend type walks that you can do throughout the UK, to have your pilgrimage experience and really see some of these historical sites that have so influenced the English pilgrimage, tradition and faith walks throughout the last 1000 years. Andy, before we go, I just want to ask, you're quite an avid Walker. And obviously have had some some time on your hands to get out and try to try to keep your sanity. Any any trips, planned, any walks that you haven't gotten to do that are on your bucket list, as it were, over the next few months or half year?


Andy Bull  34:17  

I now I will I will I work 400 miles when I was doing the book over about a year, which was fantastic. And it made me fit and all the rest of it. But what I find though, is anywhere I go, I start discovering things because I think we've got 48 cathedrals, I've covered maybe 15 of them in my walks. There's a lot more cathedrals all of them had pilgrim roots to them. So yeah, there's a number that I'm very, very interested in. There's one on the Isle of Wight which is a small island off the south coast. And it my family tradition it from there if you go back enough generations, and I went there just a few weeks ago after when we had a quick a brief response from lockdown. And there's a wonderful Abbey that's been restored there and a lot of very interesting very interesting things. So I will I'd love to go and explore that. And as I do find, you know, for instance, I've got a London pilgrimage. If you go to a place, lots of people come to London, and there's lots of things to see in London, you might want the theater you might want, you know, art galleries, and royal palaces, but you can come as a pilgrim go to any of these places as a pilgrim, and it will be a new place to you.


Kevin Donahue  35:19  

This is the Sacred Steps Podcast, our guest is Andy Bull. His new book pilgrim pathways is available from Trailblazer guides. Andy, thank you so much for joining us. It's been delightful to hear so much about these routes throughout England, Scotland and Wales into begin to set new pathways on our bucket list.


Andy Bull  35:43  

Well, that is really kind of it's been great to be here. And I really do wish you well on your pilgrimage in the UK and I know you've got others planned and I think you're planning a book as well. So you know, Godspeed to you.


Kevin Donahue  35:54  

I appreciate it so much, Andy, buen camino be well. I hope to be speaking with you again. In a moment we'll talk about our next episode, but I am so grateful to have Andy Bull, author of pilgrim pathways on the sacred steps podcast, please be sure to check out the shownotes where we'll link his book below.


On our next episode, we're talking with camino pilgrim Johnnie Walker from Santiago, Spain. This year Gianni took prayer requests from the community of global pilgrims and walk them across the Camino Frances as we'll see share his emotional story on this camino in the age of COVID on our next episode, so be sure to click subscribe, so that podcast downloads directly to your device. I'm your host Kevin Donahue author of sacred steps of pilgrimage journal. Until next time, be well stay safe and buen camino.


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