Pilgrims set off from the Dartmoor beauty spot of Brentor to the chorus of the church bells, as they began their walk along The Archangel’s Way for the launch of the new pilgrimage route on Saturday 31 July.
Others ran and walked from Chagford, Sourton and other points along the route to join the celebrations at Belstone, which included a service on the green, poetry, music, and entertainment from the Cogs and Wheels Morris Dancers.
The Devon folk singer, Jim Causley, performed the song he has composed specially for The Archangel’s Way.
The Rev’d Paul Seaton-Burn, vicar of Chagford, who led the service, said, “We had a really uplifting service at midday which involved local people and readings and poetry as well as prayer and music.
“It’s been a really lovely chance to be together, to sing together and to eat some excellent cake and tea and even burgers together so it’s been a really good day.”
The Archangel’s Way is a part of a series of pilgrimage routes developed for the new Devon Pilgrim project, which was launched earlier this month by the Diocese of Exeter’s Growing the Rural Church team.
Starting at St Michael’s Church, Brentor, it runs for 35 miles across Dartmoor to St Michael the Archangel, Chagford.
The walk is broken down into 5-7 miles sections and each church along the route has a stamp available to fill in a pilgrimage passport.
Route guides and passports can be downloaded to print from home via www.devonpilgrim.org.
While friends, individuals and established walking groups like the Tavistock Ramblers chose to walk to Belstone on Saturday, ten members of the Chagford Running Group made it from their start point 10 miles away in just an hour-and-a-half.
Rachel, founder of the Chagford Runners said, “It was lovely. We stopped at all of the churches.
“The bells were ringing as we came through and it was lovely to see all the history, everybody out talking about what they remembered about some of the churches. It was really nice.”
Sarah Cracknell, the Growing the Rural Church Project Manager, said “It was such a joy to celebrate the launch of the Archangel’s Way. The local team worked tirelessly to make the day happen.
“After the restrictions of the past 18 months, it was wonderful to see so many people coming together to connect with each other and to celebrate a new pilgrimage route that will give people an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve lived through and how we might want to live differently going forward.”