Barbara at Ely Cathedral, 20 March 2016, on her 2,000 mile pilgrimage

My name is Barbara Foster and I have set myself the challenge of walking between all the 42 Anglican cathedrals of England, my route joining them together into a single interconnected web.

 

My pilgrimage is a sponsored venture in aid of Freedom from Torture, a national charity

which enables survivors of torture to rebuild their lives through a range of therapies,

specialist medical care and practical support. I chose this charity because I believe that torture must be the worst thing in the world. Being a relatively small organisation, I have been able to make personal contact with their staff, and I know that any funds raised are making a real difference to the lives of torture survivors seeking sanctuary in the UK.

My fund raising page can be found at www.justgiving.com/Barbara-Foster

and any contributions would be very welcome.

 

The pilgrims arriving at St Albans Cathedral

 

The pilgrimage was completed on 25th July 2019 with 30 friends joining me for the final 11 miles to St Albans Abbey.  Yes, that was the date officially declared the hottest day ever in the UK but I suppose a pilgrimage should be a challenge after all.  Thank you so much to the many people who supported me that day and a huge thank you to everyone who has donated to Freedom from Torture.  The total exceeded £4,500, far more than I expected to raise and I know that the charity is very grateful for this boost to their funds.

 

I have walked along Hadrian’s Wall (to link Carlisle and Newcastle), across East Anglia and the Fens, (from Norwich to Bury St Edmunds then on to Ely and Peterborough), followed the Thames from the source to the Barrier, then onto Rochester and Canterbury. Going west from the source of the Thames I have crossed the Cotswolds to reach Gloucester then continued to five more cathedrals to reach Lichfield. I follow ancient trackways, cycle tracks, canal towpaths, bridleways and footpaths the length and breadth of England. I often travel solo, but travelling companions for all or part of the journey have been welcome.

1st April 2015. En route to Canterbury

 

24th July 2017. Inside Wakefield cathedral, about to walk round the labyrinth before setting out for Sheffield.

 

27th July 2017. Sheffield Cathedral

 

The doves in flight over Salisbury cathedral nave

 

An appropriate lane between Lichfield and Chester

 

Nearly at Derby for the 3rd time! 

 

7th July 2016. Inside Wells Cathedral

 

With friends on arrival at Blackburn

 

Being welcomed at Liverpool cathedral

 

The old boots were leaking

 

And here are my new boots!

 

My route up to the end of 2018

 

2018 Update

 

My first trip this year was from Birmingham to Lichfield, mainly following canal towpaths (in the rain) but delighted to meet up with friends on arrival.  In April, I had a longer trip, still using towpaths; this time it was the Leeds/Liverpool canal which took me, and some of my relatives who supported me, from Bradford to Blackburn, both lovely cathedrals embedded in their communities. 

 

Next was a two day walk from Winchester to Salisbury, where the art installation by Michael Pendry was absolutely breath taking. The hundreds of white origami doves with their messages of peace, hope and new beginnings chimed with my appeal on behalf of torture survivors.

 

Over the hot summer I walked from Sheffield to Southwell  then on to Lincoln, from Lichfield to Derby and also along the Cotswold Way to join Bristol to my route to Gloucester. Two long walks in the autumn were from Blackburn to Liverpool, and from Lichfield to Chester via the 90 mile Two Saints Way.  By this time a new pair of boots was needed as my old ones were falling apart!

 

June 2019 Update

 

The year has gone according to plan, with Derby now linked to Southwell and Leicester, so all my routes north, south, east and west are joined.  At Easter I walked to Manchester cathedral arriving there on Easter Sunday having already got up early to celebrate communion on top of moors near Blackburn as the sun rose. 

 

At the end of this month I will be returning to Birmingham and calling at the Midlands Arts Centre (where Freedom from Torture have a stall for refugee week) before a two day walk to Coventry, my 41st cathedral.

 

This just leaves the last leg of my pilgrimage to do.  As I have already made my way from Chelmsford to Welwyn Garden City there is just the 11 miles to St Albans still to go.

 

30 or more friends are joining me on July 25th for that final pilgrimage which will end with Choral Evensong at the Abbey.

 

The entire pilgrimage which I began in 2014 will have covered about 2,000 miles and sponsorship for Freedom from Torture has reached £2,600.  I hope it will top £3,000 before I finish...in other words, about £1.50 a mile!

 

Please visit www.justgiving.com/Barbara-Foster 

if you would like to make a donation.

 

I would be very pleased to hear of anyone else attempting to visit all the cathedrals on foot.

Contact me at barbara@barbarawalks.co.uk