Dartmoor’s New Archangel’s Way Pilgrimage Route Offers A ‘Unique Walking Adventure’
Church bells will be ringing out across Dartmoor for the launch of the brand-new Archangel’s Way pilgrimage route on Saturday 31 July.
Groups of walkers will be setting off from either end of the route at Brentor and Chagford on Saturday morning and will meet halfway at Belstone, for a launch event on the village green which will include music, morris dancing and an outdoor church service.
The Archangel’s Way is a part of a series of pilgrimage routes developed for the new Devon Pilgrim project, which launched earlier this month. It starts at St Michael’s, Brentor, and runs for 35 miles to St Michael the Archangel, Chagford.
Paul Brooks, who will be leading the group walking from Brentor said, “Vast open landscapes, rocky tors, intimate wooded valleys, rushing streams all contribute to the spiritual feel of Dartmoor.
“Add in the historic churches and villages, prehistoric remains and the man-made effect on nature that industrial processes have performed and you have a unique walking adventure.”
At midday, the Devon folksinger, Jim Causley, will play a song he has composed especially for The Archangels Way.
During the day, bell ringers will also sound out the bells in eleven historic places of worship all along the route starting with St Michael the Archangel Church, Chagford, at 9am and finishing with St Michael de Rupe, Brentor, at 7:45pm.
Revd Paul Seaton-Burn, vicar of Chagford, said, “The bells of Dartmoor have rung for centuries from parish to parish to bring people together and to mark moments of national significance, such as the end of war.
“We look forward to hearing the Archangel bells ring out across northern Dartmoor to bring people together and celebrate a new beginning for locals and visitors alike.
“This is just one example where The Archangel’s Way has already begun to build friendships across this beautiful part of Devon and invigorate community life in church and chapel.
“Pilgrimage not only honours our past; it nurtures our future too.”
Christopher Pancheri is a key member of the Archangel’s Way team and is based at the Thirteenth Century church of St Michael de Rupe, a prominent landmark on Brent Tor, which has been a settlement and gathering place since pre-Roman times.
Christopher said “It is a thin place where heaven seems close at hand and is now a Small Pilgrim Place where I provide hospitality, charged with making sure that there is a welcome and refreshment for all who come.
“The Archangel’s Way links our tiny church with many others along the western and northern edge of Dartmoor.
“Its route is not challenging and is easy to follow through beautiful countryside and moorland offering plenty of time to drink in the beauty of God’s creation. For thirty years I have lived alongside it and I look forward to welcoming pilgrims setting out along The Way.”
Lisa Harris who will be leading a group from setting off at Chagford said The Archangels Way is special to her because of “the combination of the wonderful scenery, the exercise, the history, and the wildlife; its all of those things wrapped up which you don’t get in many places.”
Along the route there are indications of how man has connected with the unique landscape through the ages, from Neolithic stone circles and ancient Holy wells to a more recent industrial past.
The Devon Pilgrim project manager, Sarah Cracknell, said that on this particular route she could “feel a sense of connection to people who have travelled before” her.
“Sitting in the Nine Maidens stone circle at Belstone you can imagine that people must have sat around this very spot thousands of years ago,” she said.
“It makes me reflect on how much simpler their lives were, just concerned about the physical needs they had that day and caring for those who lived around them.
“It helps me to have a different perspective on the things that I worry about and reminds me to trust God more and to know that I am loved and part of his perfect creation.”
For more information on the Archangels Way, other pilgrimage routes across Devon and events with Devon Pilgrim, visit: www.devonpilgrim.org.uk.