RAMBLERS and pilgrims can now enjoy a new scenic walk through East Lancashire from one of England’s older Christian sites to one of its newest Cathedrals.
The 8.5-mile trail starts at the Ribble Valley’s Whalley Abbey, founded in 1296 by Cistercian monks.
The Church of England in Lancashire is trailblazing a new national pilgrimage initiative with its walking route from Whalley Abbey to Blackburn Cathedral.
It then winds its way over Whalley Nab past Bowley Scout Camp and through Great Harwood via St Bartholomew and St John’s Church.
The walk then follows the Leeds-Liverpool canal before ending up at Blackburn Cathedral, consecrated in 1926.
The new trail is part of a national Church of England initiative 2020 Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage.
It is the second such route to Lancashire's premier Anglican Church joining one from the ancient Hollinshead Well in Tockholes.
The first person to complete the new pilgrimage was Rev Jonathan Carmyllie, Vicar of St Mary’s, Whalley.
He said: “The route from the Abbey crosses the River Calder and leaves Whalley via the wooded path over Whalley Nab heading towards Great Harwood.
“Although a little steep to begin with, the path affords some wonderful glimpses of the Calder Valley and soon begins to descend, passing Bowley Scout Camp and arriving at St Bartholomew and St John’s Church in Great Harwood.
“Following the road through Great Harwood to the cemetery, the route joins the Liverpool-Leeds Canal and continues along the towpath all the way into the city, passing fields, allotments, modern retails parks, and reminders of Blackburn’s industrial landscape.
“As a straightforward walk it provides plenty of variety, and as a pilgrimage gives ample opportunity to reflect upon both our Christian and industrial heritage, but also upon some of the issues confronting contemporary society as indicated by closed retail units, crumbling mills and canalside graffiti.
“Arrival at the Cathedral does bring with it a sense, not just of the end of a walk, but of the completion of a stage in a longer journey.
“I lit a candle in the chapel at Whalley Abbey at the beginning, and another in the cathedral at the end – a suitably symbolic way of marking my one-day pilgrimage.”