Severn Towers Benefice pilgrims carry light to Tewkesbury in annual Advent walk

Published: Wednesday December 6, 2023

On a cold and foggy Saturday, a group of pilgrims from Severn Towers Benefice in north Gloucester embarked on a Advent walk from Gloucester Cathedral to Tewkesbury Abbey.

Meeting at Gloucester Cathedral on 2 December at 8.30am, the group were led in prayer by the Revd Joe Knight (Priest in Charge at Severn Towers Benefice) and lit the pilgrimage candle, which they took with them, in a lamp, from the mother church to deliver to the Abbey.

Setting off from the Cathedral, the group made their way to Sandhurst Church, travelling down roads which are often covered by flood water. This year, the youngest pilgrim was just one year old. While at the church, the group held a short time of reflection at the graveside of the Revd John O’Brien, who created the annual pilgrimage in the mid-1980s. They then headed up to the top of Sandhurst hill.

Sarah Major, one of the pilgrims and an Education Administrator at Jumping Fish, said, “We had hoped that by the time we had reached the top of the hill, the fog would have cleared; however, this year, this was not the case. It was so important for us to stop and look at the beautiful world around us. Our modern lives don’t often give us this opportunity, and it feels especially important to make time for this, during this season of Advent.”

The pilgrims then trailed through and around the farming land and into Norton Village where they cut across areas of livestock including sheep, cattle and horses. The next stop was Leigh Church for refreshments and to pause and reflect on the journey completed so far, and the journey ahead. After lunch, the pilgrims made their way through the village of The Leigh and followed the main road into Tewkesbury town.

Sarah says, “The level of the water table determines the path at this point, and the route is altered depending on the ground underfoot. This year, the water table was high, so we kept to the main road.

“As we journeyed up the A38, it was noticeable just how much the landscape has changed over the years. New communities are being shaped, buildings updated, new businesses are being established. We all enjoyed the time of reminiscence.”

By the time the group had reached the edge of Tewkesbury town, they had been travelling for around eight hours. At Tewkesbury Abbey, they were welcomed by a Verger and were invited to place the lit candle at the alter. This candle was used to light the first candle within the Advent wreath during the Advent Carol Service on Sunday 3 December.

Sarah adds, “It was a long and cold day for walking; however, a real honour. This journey has been walked for nearly 40 years. It is a really special event for the community of Severn Towers Benefice. It is our prayer that the legacy of this long-standing tradition continues for as many years as it is able.”




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