👣 Due to last minute changes we switched our rest day to yesterday where we enjoyed peaceful Johnstonebridge and did lots of wholesome regen activities like card games and jigsaw puzzles – though some thrill-seeking pilgrims also ventured down to the river Annan for a dip! ⛄
Today we had a cold but sunny day up yet more of the Annandale Way to Moffat through some stunning scenery! We are staying at St Andrew’s and St John’s churches and being looked after by the Churches Together group here.
👣 Day 44: Today was a drizzly day along roads and the beautiful Annandale Way – we are constantly grateful for the privilege we have of being outside close to nature for such long periods especially with the incredible changing colours of Autumn. We are super grateful to St Mungo’s Church in Kettleholm for allowing us to shelter there for our lunch break! We have now arrived in Lockerbie where people from the local churches have collaborated to provide us with yet another delicious meal as well as breakfast for tomorrow! 💚
👣 Day 45: We continued on up the Annandale Way to Johnstonebridge Centre. Our path led us through an incredible piece of woodland (pine, we think) straight out of a fairytale! Whilst this type of habitat is great for moss and fungi and we loved exploring it and having our lunch amongst the moss, it’s good to remember it is inhospitable to most native wildlife. 🌲
As we arrived in Johnstonebridge we were met by a film crew from Sky News! It’s great to get more publicity as we get closer to Glasgow!
👣 After a night at the Richard Greenhow Centre in Gretna we set off in the rain. This didn’t last long however and we were in a great mood, spotting a deer and a rabbit as well as meeting a curious horse during our break and admiring the dew-covered cobwebs on the bushes. Tonight we’re staying at Ecclefechan Village Hall where some pilgrims cooked up an amazing dinner with beans – we underestimated the generosity of all our hosts when buying supplies before we set off, so now we have a lot of beans to get through in the next two weeks! 🥣
👣 We’re in SCOTLAND!!! 🏴 Yesterday our rest in Carlisle was excellent with an amazing lunch event at St Cuthbert’s Church, Carlisle organised by Churches Together in Carlisle & District full of excellent speakers including some of our pilgrims. In the evening we attended a thought-provoking Christian Aid film discussion event at the Methodist Church. Today we set off excited to cross the border! After stopping to reflect on the nearby DSDA Longtown munitions depot and pray for peace, we arrived in Gretna singing ‘Loch Lomond’ and ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’! 🎵 For some pilgrims it’s their first time in Scotland but no matter how many times we’ve visited, we’re all looking forward to this next stage of the Camino and the final 100ish miles! 💪
👣 The general mood was one of peace today as well as anticipation for our rest day tomorrow here in Carlisle! We wound our way along the River Petterill (where we saw a kingfisher and our four legged pilgrims took the opportunity for a swim) via Scalesceugh Hall & Villas where a serendipitous meeting with site manager Bruno got us safely through the woods. After spending some time leafletting in the city centre we arrived at Wigton Rd Methodist Church Hall which was full of welcoming church members bearing lasagne and ‘fruit pizza’. 😁 Before making ourselves at home we headed back out to the Carlisle – City of Lights sound and light show where the theme this year is humans’ relationship with the Earth – perfect timing to reflect on this before COP26! ✨
👣 Our bodies were a bit surprised by a 12 mile day today! We made good time though and arrived safely at Low Hesket Village Hall where everyone was lovely and very excited by the Coat of Hopes! 💚
Our other picture today is of this morning’s mandala – each day pilgrim Jen collects bits of nature she finds along our route and then creates mandalas for our listening circles and briefings. It’s been really cool to see how the wildlife has changed as we progress up country and through the Autumn! 🌿🍂
👣 After a spontaneous evening where some pilgrims were offered beds in a yurt by local farmer Andri, we had a short walk this morning to Penrith where we are now staying at the Quaker Meeting House. We passed the alleged location of King Arthur’s Round Table which was conquered by pilgrim Rachel! We took the afternoon to rest which included swimming, showers, coffee and napping, as well as replenishing underwear that has been lost in one of the many washing machines between here and London. This evening we attended the latest stitching stop for the Coat of Hopes where an amazing 55 new patches were presented ready to be sewn on. On the Coat Facebook page you can see the livestream of the event. It’s amazing to hear the stories and thought behind each patch! 🧥
👣 Yesterday we had a great walk over to Crosby Ravensworth where we stayed at Crosby Ravensworth Village Hall and appreciated an offer of showers at a local campsite. In the evening we had an impromptu barn dance courtesy of pilgrim Carolyn who brought her fiddle and bagpipes! Even pilgrims need to let their hair down sometimes. 🕺💃
This morning we squeezed in a visit to Crosby Ravensworth C.E Primary School before setting off again in the sunshine. We met several farmers along our route today who were really supportive and keen to share their experiences and the impact of the climate crisis on their local area. We have now arrived at Lowther Parish Hall and Play Area in Hackthorpe for a quiet evening. As we get well into the second half of the pilgrimage, our daily mileage is a little lower giving us more downtime but perhaps that’s a good thing considering many of us are quite behind on sleep by this point! 😴
👣 A super muggy day in which we stumbled over at least 30 stiles and drystone walls! It’s great to see everyone lending each other a hand. We were welcomed into the lovely All Saints Church, Burton in Lonsdale for a break. We have been offered beds by an incredible couple near Kirkby Lonsdale who are taking care of all our needs! A few pilgrims have gone to the nearby church to meet with people from the community. We are three days into a 10-day stretch without a rest now and some of us are already quite exhausted! 😅