Day 0 – My boots are ready….

Had all been well, I would have been wandering down Italy soaking up the Mediterranean sunshine, eating gelato, drinking Peroni and swatting mosquitoes. Just about every footpath in Italy is a pilgrimage but there’s a good one from Padua to Assisi and all points south. Hopefully next year.

Instead, I’ve decided to walk up England to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne which is a proper pilgrimage destination. This is what it says on http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/holy-island

Experience the serenity of 12th century Lindisfarne Priory, the epicentre of Christianity in Anglo Saxon times and once the home of St Oswald. This peaceful setting was the birthplace of the Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the world’s most precious books. Ransacked by marauding Viking raiders in the 8th century, the evocative ruins of Lindisfarne Priory includes the famous ‘rainbow bridge’ which spirals skywards with the ghost of a long-vanished tower.

Holy Island remains a place of pilgrimage today. The island is the final destination of long distance walking route and one of Scotland’s Great Trails, the St Cuthbert’s Way.

Yes, those marauding Viking raiders. They ate a lot of chocolate almonds.

I’ve always wanted to walk to Holy Island but I never thought I would. After all, why tackle such a tough and demanding hike over wild and desolate moorland, steep hills and deep bogs without a soul to be seen and knowing that the weather will be truly awful?

The fact is, I live on the E2 European Long Distance Footpath so I only have to finish breakfast on Monday and step outside to start my journey. The E2 goes all the way to Scotland where I can creep along Hadrian’s Wall and then wade across the sea to Holy Island. That’s assuming I don’t give up or disappear into a bog.

There are other dangers too. I will have to walk through a big COVID-19 cloud which is hanging over the middle of the country, or “up north” as we say in Weybridge.

We’ll see a lot of England. My route along the E2 follows these National footpaths:

  1. The Thames Path
  2. The Oxfordshire Way
  3. The Heart of England Way
  4. The Staffordshire Way
  5. The Pennine Way
  6. St Cuthbert’s Way

I’ve put the schedule on the Holy Island page of my website where these blogs will accumulate (https://timgreig.co.uk/holy-island-2020/). I hope that as many of you as possible will meet me and take a little walk along the way. The schedule is driven by the low tide at Holy Island so if I make it, I’ll arrive with wet muddy boots at lunchtime on 21 September. If not, what’s one more failure in life?


35 comments on “Day 0 – My boots are ready….

  1. Excellent to see you have started another pilgrimage Tim. My husband and I were supposed to have been setting off on the Via Francigena last April….but alas, we all know what put a stop to that trip. So now we are hoping to start next April. Good luck, I will follow your posts with great anticipation.

  2. We have started a blog if you are interested. Hoping to finish it next year all being safe and well.

    • Hi Jenny

      It’s great to hear from you and to hear of your plans to tackle the Via Francigena next year. It was best to postpone this year but let us hope Italy is open to everyone next year. I’ll see you there and I’m following your blog. Tim

  3. David Jury

    Hello Tim when you mentioned a pilgrimage to Holy Island I had no idea you were starting from Home ! A brave undertaking in 2020 – good luck and I look forward to following you on this blog – David

    • Hi David, You did a fab walk today and I’ll be down to Exmoor in due course to catch up and walk up to the lake. I just looking at your photos. Let me know if you fancy a stage or two up north. Tim

  4. John Shuttleworth

    The perfect Covid antidote. Happy trekking. I’m sure the English weather won’t disappoint.

    • Huh, the English weather always disappoints. Too hot, too cold, too wet etc. I’ll be thinking of you as I walk past Manchester Utd. Tim

  5. Torin Brown

    A beautiful Pilgrimage Tim. Good luck all the way and I look forward to daily blog updates. Buen Camino.

    • Hey Torin, What happened to our Feb reunion? Nevermind, we can catch up when I’m back. I hope you can find a way to walk with me. Do you know what mud is? Tim

  6. Miyuki

    ティムさん!!you have no idea how this news made me so happy!! I was just remembering your journey and beautiful pictures in Shikoku the other day so I’m thrilled that your new journey starts. I’m so looking forward to follow it! Wishing you all the best💗💗💗

    • みゆきせんせい !! I’m so pleased to hear from you. I am still on a high from my Shikoku pilgrimage. It was the greatest thing I’ve ever done! I want to do it again. And again backwards. How I miss my Japanese lessons. And how I miss Japan. You gave me the greatest gift of talking some Japanese while I was there and I can’t believe it. I made a big book of my pilgrimage and I transcribed the whole of our conversation at IH into the book because you told me so much that I didn’t know. And I have your drawings explaining the temple stamps and my completion certificate in the book too. I hope I can pop into IH to show you one day. In the meantime take good care, ティム

  7. Tassie Kaz

    There’s no such thing as failure if you get out there & have a go.
    Great to know you’re back on the trail…any trail would be a joy this year.
    Oh…& we all really hope you don’t disappear down a bog!
    Sempre avanti 👣 🌏

    • Hey Karen, how are you? I often think about what you told me about Shikoku and I knew there was something special there but I still wasn’t prepared! I still can’t explain it. Everyday I thank my stars that I made it around Shikoku just before the pandemic. Your advice about dealing with large snakes came in very handy too. I won’t need that in England. Stay with me. Tim

  8. Vikki McLean

    Yay! Tim’s off on another adventure that we can all share from the comfort of our desk chairs. Looking forward to your photography and wit, Tim.
    Best wishes,

    • Hi Vikki, now that you are in the UK you will get my blogs at a more civilised time. I will try and find some humour in Britain but it will be difficult! Please have a word with Calum about joining me. I know he won’t be at all interested in the Thames Path but once I get up to the wild moors and hills of the Pennines he will be in his element. And I’m sure he will appreciate wading through the mud at low tide to Lindisfarne. Tim

  9. Wrap up well, it’s only 33 Degrees. Oh, Centigrade! Never mind, plenty of thunderstorms forecast to keep you refreshed along the way… Bon voyage!

    • Yes we have a little bit of a heatwave but after Japan this will be a walk in the park. I’m looki8ng forward to seeing you tomorrow evening in Windsor, Tim

  10. Best of luck, it will certainly be different to Japan, look forward to daily updates. Enjoy x

    • Can you just imagine raw fish in Derbyshire? There is not a single place up north twinned with anywhere in Japan. I just can’t wait to get started in the morning. Stay tuned, Tim

  11. I note that on the weblink you sent that the best way to get there is with a
    convertible roadster – still if you must walk then be safe and stay in touch. Best wishes👍😎🍺

    • Hi Nick, thanks and have you seen the 1965 epic, “Cul-de-Sac” with Jacqueline Bisset among others? If you have, you would not drive over to Holy Island in any sort of convertible. The tide really does come in. Are you coming to Windsor tomorrow?

  12. Wow Stuart, that is inspiring. It’s the sort of thing http://www.richardlong.org/ has probably done. Can you try and do a blog without using Facebook so I can follow you? Maybe you could just email me your postings. It sounds so interesting. Are you still go for Shikoku in the spring?

  13. Amazing, Tim. You have become a true dedicated pilgrim. Who would have thought when I came across you at that village in Spain (can’t remember the name), tired, blistered and frustrated, that you would be bitten by the Camino bug.
    We have plenty of beautiful hikes, but no real pilgrimages on this side of the pond, so I will continue to journey with you vicariously.
    From your map, it looks like a straight shot up the center of the country, so less likelihood of getting lost. I’ll bet there are no yellow arrows!
    Are there pilgrim services of any kind or will you be at hotels? Hope some of your UK cronies are able to join you for bits. I know how much you enjoy coming across other pilgrims. Is there much likelihood of that?
    Give us a heads up when you’re heading into the bogs. In case you don’t come out the other side we can send someone in to pull you out.

  14. Hi DJ, Now I know I’m on another pilgrimage! By the way, the magic of the Camino, we met before that village in Spain. Certainly in Mansilla de las Mulas where I have a picture of you and me and Stevie G. But I remember meeting you between Villafranca and Las Herrerias after your scenic diversion along the top of the ridge and we had quite a nice long chat there and then all the way to Compostela.
    This waslk will have no yellow arrows and every chance of getting lost when the fog descends on the moors. It will be all hotels, I’m afraid. All the same I’m looking forward to seeing what comes… Tim

    • I have that great picture of you and me (and Carola, I think) at the Parador in Santiago toasting our arrival. I would have posted it here, but don’t think I can. Anyway, I hope the end of this 6 week journey brings you the same kind of joy we were feeling on that day.
      Looking forward to following you again.
      Also looking forward to getting back to Europe one of these days. I’m thinking I’ll volunteer as a hospitalera for a bit. Maybe in St. Jean so I can witness the excitement of the pilgrims as they begin their trek on the Frances. I didn’t spend any time there — was dropped off at the Pilgrim office at 9AM and started walking as soon as I had my passport. I’ve heard it’s a lovely village and I’d like to experience it.
      Now…go to bed! You have to be up and walking early tomorrow morning! 🙂

  15. Philippa

    Hi Tim, what great news! As a devotee of British Pilgrimage’s website & descriptions of many walks I’ll look forward to your posts, so please don’t fall into a bog and/or get lost in the fog. Here in NZ pilgrimage in place (local walks) is the order of the day. It’s still winter but we’re hoping to walk further when it warms up. At least right now we don’t have community transmission of COVID but that’s at the cost of strict border controls. Stay safe on your walk!

    • Hi Philippa, I was fearful of missing out this year but then I decided to set off and see what happens. Holy Island will be worthwhile. Great to hear from you. Tim

  16. Kia Ora, Tim. I’m impressed by your planned walk northwards. It looks like a fantastic route. I’ve actually done part of the Thames Path, running from Teddington Lock to Richmond and back to a friend’s place near Strawberry Hill over a number of years and loved it. I’m pining to get back to Shikoku Island and resume my walk but there is a long wait for that freedom. Ganbatte and buon camino. Kia kaha. Vicky W

    • Hi Vicky, I know Teddington Lock to Richmond very well and have walked it a few times this year. I’m looking forward to reading the continuation of your Shikoku blog next year. Ganbatte. Tim

  17. Diana Davy

    Hi Tim,
    Well, the scorching weather you are probably facing on Day 1 could well match that of your postponed Italian trek – sadly I doubt the same can be said for the possible Mr Whippy along the way making up for the missed gelato…which brings to mind green tea ice cream in Kyoto 🙂

    Happy Camino..

  18. Hi Diana, that’s a very welcome memory. I’ve just passed under the M25 so now I’m out into the wilds of England. Onwards….

  19. Rudolf Bösch

    Hi Tim
    Nice to hear about your never ending energy-level 🙂
    Hope you started well to your trip. I will start too in two weeks — but only a short trip of about two weeks in Switzerland.
    Good luck, I am sure, you will do it!

    • Hi Ruedi, so nice to hear from you again. I hope you enjoy Switzerland and keep in touch. It’s my day 1 and I’m out of energy

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