Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Aidan & Edmonton.

Day 20: Wooler to Fenwick.

Distance: 12.3 miles (340.4 total).

Duration: 5 hrs 9 mins.

Lowest Temp: 0ºc.

Weather: A green and pleasant land? I think Mr Blake must have been holidaying in Scotland.

Highest Alt: 580 ft.

Archdeacon Watch: After complaining of a near-death experience during the morning session he rallied after Midday Prayer and a Mars bar.

Young Tom’s departure was much like his arrival, and he slipped away from us in the dead of night. Actually it was about seven in the morning when he got a cab to Berwick, but as far as The Archdeacon and I are concerned that’s the dead of night.

Today’s was one of the more challenging legs weather-wise, and the meteorological conditions took a significant turn for the worse about halfway through the day, some five minutes or so after The Archdeacon had breezily asserted, 'It’s definitely clearing up now.’

Apologies for yesterday’s fairly downbeat post. The good people of All Saints, Edmonton must be beginning to wonder if they need to start advertising for a new Vicar, I’ve been sounding so morose about this pilgrimage ending. Today I’ve been feeling considerably brighter, and I’ve got St Aidan to thank for the change in my mood.

Walking today’s miles, which have brought us virtually within sight of Lindisfarne, I began to wonder how St Aidan felt as he grew ever nearer to Bamburgh Castle, and ever further from Iona and the people he knew. I guess that we’ve firmly established by now that I’m not particularly qualified to peer into the minds of Saints, nevertheless I’d like to imagine that at this point in his journey St Aidan was feeling those often twinned emotions of anticipation and apprehension: he had travelled across the country at the request of Oswald, King of Northumbria, and it was to be his mission to found a community on the pattern of Iona on this far shore, there was a lot for him to look forward to; but at the same time he was leaving behind so much that was familiar to him.

Some people have questioned what I can possibly hope to find in the lives of the Celtic Saints that might be of use where I serve in North London: at first glance there would appear to be a great deal more than miles which separate Iona and N9. However, the world those Saints worked and worshipped in was very similar to the context I serve in. Theirs was a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-faith society, and they often had to profess their faith in the face of opposition. When Aidan went to Northumbria he was going to a people whose language he did not even speak. He went to them and he walked with them.

I don’t suppose I’ve even begun to figure out what Iona, and Columba, and Aidan, and Lindisfarne, and Cuthbert, and that whole era of Christianity has to offer to the community I serve, but I do believe that those two worlds are much close than they might at first appear.


  1. Wow - the last night of the pilgrimage. In some ways it seems to have been a long time since I said goodbye to you at the beginning of your journey - endless nights of just a hot water bottle to keep me company probably haven't helped - but in other ways it seems to have flown past.

    I can't wait to get up to Berwick tomorrow, and meet you and Paul for the final leg. I'm somewhat apprehensive about the ending of your pilgrimage and how bumpy the return to reality may be for you. However I also know that whilst this is the ending of one pilgrimage, you'll be looking at the next stage as the start of new one, and after that one the start of another one. Hopefully I can be as good a companion on the pilgrimages to come as The Archdeacon, Young Tom, your Dad, and all those others who have made the last three weeks so special for you.


  2. I'm sure tonight's Spurs result will have lifted your spirits even more. My James was there, having been mysteriously converted from Man U. He now declares himself a Spurs supporter and is looking forward to them beating Fulham in the next round. Getting him to All Saints will be harder, but even St Aidan had his challenges.


  3. Stuart,
    My son, Connor, and I were also at the Spurs v Bolton replay, and I think it only fair to highlight the match for you in your absence from the Lane, as you do with this life-enhancing pilgrimage! :-)
    Spurs kept possession very well. Completely run the game, making Bolton look very ordinary. For me, Gareth Bale was Man of the Match. He completely run the Bolton 'right side' ragged, and he looks like he's becoming the player we all thought he was when we signed him from Southampton. Bentley flatters to deceive. Kept giving the ball away with fancy flicks. Super Pav was confident. Modric is just different class. Dawson marshalled the defence well, so overall, Spurs played good football, controlled the game from the start, just a shame that Bale isn't English! LOL

    From Harry Redknapp's Blue and White Army!!!

    Garrett x

  4. We are almost as disappointed as you, here in the Sherborne Area Office, that this pilgrimage is coming to an end. Our morning routine of putting the kettle on and then reading the blog will have to be replaced by doing some actual work. Loved the day to day enties, both funny and sad and those that gave an insight to what you must be experiencing on the walk. When's the next one?

  5. Enough about Spurs. My spies tell me Adelaide United defeated the Asian Champions (Korean side Pohang Steelers) 1-0. Connection? Said spy is ex-All Saints lad who went to Australia, taking the spirit of All Saints with him.
    When the pair of you reach Lindisfarne you can state, twice a day, that the mainland is cut off from the Priory. For the uninitiated, that's when the tide comes in and turns Lindisfarne into Holy Island.
    BTW it should have been Nancy Sinatra's boots, not Jane Fonda's. Getting my ladies mixed up. Old age beckons?