Athelstan Pilgrim Way to be opened on 30th June

First published 6th June 2024

A group of new walking and cycling routes linking all 36 Anglican churches in the North Wiltshire Mission Area will begin to be opened at the end of this month. The Athelstan Pilgrim Way – named after Anglo-Saxon king Athelstan (c. 894- 939 AD) who united England – comprises six walking routes with Malmesbury Abbey at the centre.

The Malmesbury & Upper Avon and Gauzebrook routes will be the first to be opened with the remaining routes launching next year. The Malmesbury & Upper Avon route includes four churches, beginning and ending at Malmesbury Abbey (approximately 13 miles). The Gauzebrook route is approximately 20 miles and takes in nine churches – beginning and ending at Bremilham Church, the smallest church in England still in use.

On the launch day of the 30th June and as part of wider celebrations commemorating the 1100th anniversary of Athelstan becoming King, there will be a talk at Malmesbury Abbey by historian, broadcaster and patron of the Pilgrim Way, Tom Holland. Tickets are available here for his talk: ‘On the trail of the first king of England: why Athelstan deserves pilgrims’.

A series of booklets detailing the route, and a companion guide to the churches, will be available from the bookshop at Malmesbury Abbey from June 2024. These will include a 'Pilgrim Passport', which can be stamped at each church visited along the route.  

A children's pilgrimage 'dog hunt' is also available, with booklets following Stan (short for Athelstan) the dog who travels in search of the toy dogs hidden in each of the churches.

The logo for the Athelstan Pilgrim Way has been designed by artist, Sheona Beaumont, and will appear on way marker signs installed along the route. 

The churches will be open to all, and pop-up information banners and posters will be installed in the churches to enable a richer visitor experience.

Find out more about the pilgrimage routes here.

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