It was another wonderful year, on the 11th Annual Lancaster Diocese ‘Big Walk’! A group of 16 gathered at Castlerigg Manor on the evening of Friday 4th September, to begin our walking pilgrimage to Cleator Moor. It was probably the most international Big Walk yet, with walkers from Belgium, Germany, Poland and the USA, along with others from the diocese. On the Friday evening we shared social time, had a time of Adoration and quiet prayer in the chapel, and celebrated Aoife’s birthday with an epic game of Sardines!

The next day started with Mass, along with a lovely English breakfast to fill us up for the day ahead. From there we set off in a minibus to Honister Slate Mine, where the walking would begin. We hiked from the slate mine, to the top of Haystacks, with beautiful views all the way. Lunch was eaten on top of Haystacks in the sunshine, whilst we enjoyed each other’s company. We then descended down into the Ennerdale valley, and continued our walk along to Low Gillerthwaite field centre, where we would spend the night.  We had a period of walking in silence, having an opportunity to just appreciate the beauty around us, and listen to God’s voice along the way. Some people took the chance to swim in some natural pools along the way – the water was freezing!

We arrived at Low Gillerthwaite in the late afternoon, having time to relax before enjoying an amazing home cooked meal made by the ladies from Cleator – burgers, chips, salad and lots of delicious desserts! The evening was spent doing a quiz, sitting by the log fire, and stargazing – we finished the day with night prayer all together.

The next morning we were woken at 7.15am by Fr John’s voice booming across the corridor! We then had breakfast and made lunches, before setting off on the next part of our journey. Sunday’s scenery was not quite as dramatic as the previous day, but brought us alongside Ennerdale Water, and through some lovely countryside. Whilst walking along the lakeside, we had the opportunity to take an ‘Emmaus walk’ in pairs. Fr John shared the story of Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and then we had time in pairs to share about our own lives and faith journeys. It was a blessed time to share with one another; especially being able to talk to people we might not usually have a chance to speak to.

We made our way through the valley, and then at last we could see Cleator Moor in the distance. There was a quick stop to change into our Big Walk polo shirts, before making our final walk to St Mary’s church. People greeted us with clapping and ‘Well dones!’ – It felt great! We joined with many others from around the diocese for Mass, and it was a great celebration. From there we said our goodbyes, with new friendships having been established, and old ones rejuvenated. Bring on Big Walk 2016!