North West Wales

Pilgrims end North Wales Pilgrim's Way at Bardsey

The Very Reverend Chris Potter and Sue Last tackle the elements on the walk
Image caption The Very Reverend Chris Potter and Sue Last tackle the elements on the walk

The first pilgrims to walk the North Wales Pilgrim's Way have arrived at Bardsey Island after their 11-day trek.

Thirteen people completed the whole route from Basingwerk Abbey in Holywell, but others joined them along the way.

The route turned out to be 150 miles (241km) - 23 miles (37km) longer than estimated.

The Very Reverend Chris Potter, dean of St Asaph Cathedral, said the group had a "sense of fulfilment".

He and his wife Jenny helped devise the route after being inspired by a pilgrimage to Spain.

The walkers reached the island, which is reputed to be the burial place of 20,000 saints, at 10:00 BST on Thursday.

The pilgrims "waymarked" the route using the symbol of a Celtic cross, which means anyone will be able to follow the pilgrim route at any time of the year.

Mr Potter said: "We've walked through the worst of weather and the sweetest weather, through towns and cities, hamlets and villages, along pavements and grass and there's been an incredible welcome from parishes along the way."

Before the group began their journey with a 5m (8km) walk which passed nearby St Winefride's Well, known as the Lourdes of Wales, the Bishop of St Asaph, the Right Reverend Dr Gregory K Cameron, gave them a blessing.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who is from Swansea, is patron of the new path which passes St Beuno's, near Tremeirchion, Denbighshire, which was built in 1848 as a place of study for Jesuits.

Image caption The Bishop of Asaph blesses the pilgrims en route to Bardsey Island

The route follows places connected with St Winefride, who, according to legend, was beheaded and then brought to life by St Beuno. It also includes the giant yew tree at St Digain's Church, Llangernyw, Conwy, said to be the oldest living thing in Britain.

One of the walkers, Ron Williams, said: "A pilgrimage is not usually my sort of thing but I've really enjoyed it and got something out of it."

It is hoped the Pilgrim's Way will also help to boost tourism in rural areas, taking walkers beyond places like Bangor city centre and past its cathedral.

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