Church bells rang out across Dartmoor for the launch of the brand-new Archangel’s Way pilgrimage route on Saturday, 31st July.
The Archangel’s Way is one of a series of routes developed for the new Devon Pilgrim project, which launched earlier this month.
It starts at the picturesque 13th century St Michael de Rupe church on Brentor, a church often described as Devon’s own version of Glastonbury Tor, and runs for 35 miles to St Michael the Archangel, Chagford.
Paul Brooks, who helped devise the route, said: “Vast open landscapes, rocky tors, intimate wooded valleys and 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 and you have a unique walking adventure.”
Last Saturday, walkers gathered for a launch event at Belstone, halfway along the route. Music, morris dancing and an outdoor church service were enjoyed by the large group of people who attended.
The Devon folksinger, Jim Causley, performed a song he has composed especially for The Archangels Way.
The Way was celebrated throughout the day with peals of Devon call changes being run at all the eleven churches and chapels along the route, starting off at 9am at Chagford, led by Chagford Tower Captain John Bint. The team were hoping to finish at Brentor in time for sunset.
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.
‘It was a joy to hear 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 lives near its start at Brentor.
He 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 is not challenging and offers plenty of time to drink in the beauty of God’s creation. I look forward to welcoming pilgrims setting out along it.”
The Devon Pilgrim project manager, Sarah Cracknell, said that on the 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 their physical needs 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.”
For more information on the Archangels Way, other pilgrimage routes across Devon and
events with Devon Pilgrim, visit: www.devonpilgrim.org.uk
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