Hiker on top of a hill

Walking with saints

Feed mind, body and spirit with a pilgrimage along these 10 historic trails we’ve created in collaboration with the British Pilgrimage Trust – and discover the story of England at our historic sites along the way.

Image: Odda's Chapel

Tewkesbury Abbey to Gloucester Cathedral

Distance/duration: 14 miles/1–2 days

Start/end point: Tewkesbury Abbey to Gloucester Cathedral

English Heritage sites visited: Odda’s Chapel; Blackfriars, Gloucester; Greyfriars, Gloucester

Make pilgrimage between two titans of medieval architecture, strolling through inspirational meadows alongside the River Severn. Stop at the historic Boat Inn which has been run by the same family for over 450 years, and visit ancient churches, chapels and spiritual sites. You can see the oldest Saxon font in the country and admire Tudor screens, tithe barns and beautiful stained glass windows. 

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The exterior of Wenlock Priory in Shropshire

The Abbesses’ Way, Shropshire

Distance/duration: 20 miles/2 days

Start/end point: Wenlock Priory to Shrewsbury Abbey

English Heritage sites visited: Wenlock Priory, Langley Chapel and Acton Burnell Castle

You begin at magnificent Wenlock Priory, once a great pilgrimage site of 8th-century abbess St Milburga’s relics. Visit Much Wenlock’s holy wells of St Milburga and St Owen before ascending the ridge of Wenlock Edge. Revel in the rolling Shropshire landscape, before descending to Langley Chapel and Acton Burnell, with its Church right next to a castle built by a bishop. Then by field and road to St Eata’s Church, Atcham, before the final approach via the River Severn and Rea Brook to Shrewsbury Abbey, where part of the shrine to the 7th-century abbess St Winefride survives.

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Nine Ladies Stone Circle, Derbyshire

Peak District Old Stones Way, Derbyshire

Distance/duration: 38 miles/3 days

Start/end point: Carl Wark Hill Fort to Minninglow Hill

English Heritage properties visited: Nine Ladies Stone Circle and Arbor Low Stone Circle

High on the Pennine moorlands south west of Sheffield, the rock fortress of Carl Wark stands proud, overlooking the destination of Minninglow Hill, 25 miles south. It was once the resting place of prehistoric chieftains in their chambered cairns. This route takes in the old stones of the Nine Ladies, and Stanton Moor’s sacred groves that come alive on Midsummer Night with local festivities, Robin Hood’s Stride and Arbor Low, the Neolithic ‘clock’ whose massive recumbent stones are aligned to midwinter sunrise and midsummer sunset.

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Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire

St Hilda’s Way, North Yorkshire

Distance/duration: 22 miles/2 days

Start/end point: Danby train station to Whitby Abbey 

English Heritage properties visited: Whitby Abbey

St Hilda’s Way celebrates the life of St Hild, Anglo-Saxon princess, spiritual leader, arts enthusiast and peacemaker, by visiting places dedicated to her in the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside. In 664 she hosted the famous Synod of Whitby as the first abbess of the double monastery of Streonshalh, now known as Whitby Abbey. You follow the River Esk, Yorkshire’s only salmon river, to finish at Whitby Abbey. Make your way to the start at Danby by the railway which follows the pilgrimage route along the Esk valley back to Whitby, allowing easy transport back to the start of each day’s pilgrimage.

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The ruins of Bury St Edmund’s Abbey

St Edmund’s Way, Suffolk

Distance/duration: 22 miles/2 days

Start/end point: Thetford Priory to Bury St Edmund’s Abbey 

English Heritage properties visited: Thetford Priory, Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Bury St Edmund’s Abbey

You begin at Thetford Priory, an important medieval monastery near the Priory of the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre, who aided medieval pilgrims to Jerusalem. Next is the medieval stone Barnham Cross that marks the boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk, and along the Icknield Way through the King’s Forest to West Stow, a reconstructed 5th-7th-century Anglo-Saxon village. A succession of four beautiful Suffolk churches follows before you arrive at Bury St Edmunds, with its ruined abbey standing side-by-side with the cathedral, where you can hear its choir sing evensong.

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Image: Beeston Castle

Two Saints Way, Cumbria

Distance/duration: 15 miles/2 days

Start/end point: Bunbury Parish Church to Chester Cathedral

English Heritage properties visited: Beeston Castle, Chester Roman Amphitheatre, Chester Castle: Agricola Tower and Castle Walls

Part of a longer route (which actually begins at Lichfield Cathedral), this section of the Two Saints Way starts at the picturesque village of Bunbury. Enjoy panoramic views over the Cheshire Plains at Beeston Castle, before walking alongside the Shropshire Union Canal to the Roman city of Chester. 

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Looking across the bridge to Finchale Priory, County Durham

Camino Ingles, County Durham

Distance/duration: 3 days/20 miles

Start/end point: Escomb Church to Finchale Priory

English Heritage properties visited: Auckland Castle Deer House and Finchale Priory 

You begin at the Saxon church of Escomb before reaching Bishop Auckland. The Castle houses paintings of Jacob and his12 sons by Spanish painter Francisco de Zurburan. Walk through the Weardale valley via Binchester Roman Fort before arriving at Durham Cathedral, the shrine of St Cuthbert. From Durham walk the Weardale Way to the ruins of Finchale Priory, where 12th-century hermit Godric made one of the earliest pilgrimages from England to Santiago in Northern Spain. This is a recognised section of the Camino de Santiago, starting at the port city of A Coruna.

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The ruins of St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury

Four pilgrim routes, Canterbury, Kent

Distance/duration: between 7 and 12 miles/1 day each

Route one: Old Way (Patrixbourne start, 8 miles to Cathedral)

Route two: North Downs Pilgrims Way (Chilham start, 7 miles to Cathedral)

Route three: Augustine Camino (Faversham start, 12 miles to Cathedral)

Route four: Via Francigena in England (Sheperdswell start, 11 miles to Cathedral)

Canterbury was where St Augustine first settled, on a mission from Rome to convert England to Christianity, and where Thomas Becket, the 12th-century Archbishop, was murdered in the Cathedral. The city has welcomed pilgrims for over a thousand years, attracted by St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral and St Martin’s Church – the oldest church in the English-speaking world – and its many other ancient churches, saints, holy springs, and, latterly, Chaucer’s tales.

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The remains of Winchester Palace in London

The Royal Route: the Tower of London to Westminster Abbey, London

Distance/duration: 1 day/5 miles Start/end point: Tower of London to Westminster Abbey

English Heritage sites visited: Winchester Palace, Jewel Tower, Chapter House & Pyx Chamber and London Wall

Delve into England’s history through the streets of the modern city. Pick out holy wells and ancient stones, places of sanctuary and peace, the tombs of saints and the haunts of sinners, from the scrum of the modern city. Linking the two traditional power centres of London, the City of London and the City of Westminster, you follow the ancient way from the Tower of London (believed to replicate the lost palace of the Kings of Troy) through the City, to Westminster, in the shadow of the great Abbey church.

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Housesteads Roman Fort at Hadrian's Wall

The Hadrian’s Wall Pilgrims’ Way, Northumberland

Distance/duration: 2 days, 23 miles

Start/end point: Housesteads Roman Fort to Corbridge Roman Town

English Heritage sites visited: Housesteads Roman Fort, Chesters Roman Fort and Museum and Corbridge Roman Town

From Housesteads Roman Fort, follow the Hadrian’s Wall Path to Carrawburgh Roman Fort, before walking on to Chesters Roman Fort to discover artefacts from the well of the water nymph Coventina. From there you come to St Oswald’s Church, Heavenfield, on the site where Oswald erected a cross at which he knelt before the Battle of Heavenfield. Finally you pass 7th-century Hexham Abbey, before reaching your destination of Corbridge, with its 7th-century church and Roman Town.

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