Chelmsford Cathedral
2020 Year of Pilgrimage


2020 is part of the Association of English Cathedrals Year of Cathedrals and the Year of Pilgrimage. 

In its most basic definition a pilgrim is a person who journeys, especially a long distance, to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion. Pilgrimage within religious traditions (not only Christian) have been undertaken for thousands of years. The idea of pilgrimage itself is resonant with meaning – as people we are pilgrims not only in the physical sense of travelling to a sacred place, but the journey of faith itself is a pilgrimage. Why? Because we are going somewhere and we are seeking something. What might it be? ‘My heart is restless until I find my rest in you’ says St Augustine. We are people of desire and of longing and therefore we undertake multiple journeys in order to be fulfilled. The travellers on the road to Emmaus were not on a pilgrimage, nevertheless on their journey they discovered something new about God: their eyes were opened. We undertake pilgrimage as an act of commitment to having our eyes opened.

The Year of Pilgrimage was designated by the Association of English Cathedrals for 2020, they could not have predicted that 2020 would be defined by lack of movement, restriction and confinement to homes. Is pilgrimage possible now? As we have seen, it very much is, as pilgrimage is about a journey of the heart.

Pilgrim Route to Chelmsford Cathedral from Pleshey

Our pilgrimage route was tested by Cathedral staff on a very wet and windy March day.  It starts at Pleshey Retreat Centre and is a combination of paths along the Essex Way and some tarmac path walking.  The Pilgrimage Trust, who chose the route, state that it is 6.5 miles but it is actually nearer 8.5 miles! If you want to make the route slightly shorter, you can go directly to the Cathedral along New Street. 

We've made two videos.  One is a snapshot of the route and the other of the whole pilgrimage. Click here to view the whole route.  It was walked again in May once lockdown restrictions were eased and I can report there is no longer any standing water and the fallen trees have been cleared from the path! 

For full walk instructions, please click here.  Please feel free to print them off and take them with you when you walk.  Again these have been tested but we take no responsibility for you getting lost!  The paths are fairly flat but as with any footpath, do be careful and trainers or walking boots are recommended.  Please note at times during the walk, you will be walking across fields, football pitches etc, but please look out for the marker posts and take a slight detour if needed.

Guide to Pilgrimage leaflet is available here.


A Pilgrim’s Prayer


Pilgrim God,

You are our origin and destination,

Travel with us, we pray, in every pilgrimage of faith, and every journey of the heart.

Give us the courage to set off,

the nourishment we need to travel well,

and the welcome we long for at our journey’s end.

So we may grow in grace and love of you

and in the service of others.

through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

(from Pocket Prayers for Pilgrims, John Pritchard)


We are gathering your pilgrimage stories and will be adding new encoounters throughout the summer.  Simply click on the words in blue to read Pilgrimage Journeys.


Gallery Gallery

Click a thumbnail for the full size picture