The team from Eyam Church arranged the Peak Pilgrimage route through the White Peak from Ilam to Eyam in 2015. Then in 2020 the same team set up the Hope Pilgrimage route through the Hope Valley and the Dark Peak from Edale to Eyam.
The Hope Pilgrimage is slightly shorter and much hillier than its older sister but they both operate on the same principles – a marvellous walk through the best bits of Derbyshire meandering from church to church and pub to café, reflecting on life and glorying in creation, while collecting stamps and sticky back Bible verses from the churches. Each pilgrimage has its own Guidebook, available to purchase on this website.
Pick either one or, indeed, do the two together by starting with the Peak Pilgrimage and continuing through Eyam to Edale. What will you choose? Click on the Peak or Hope options below and read on………..
This invitation to come on pilgrimage to Eyam comes from the church and people of Eyam because we would like to share our story and our village with you. That is why we have developed these Pilgrimages – to help you have a wonderful experience of the Peak District National Park, then of Eyam, and also of God along the way.
Being a Pilgrim
A pilgrim is a traveller on a journey to a holy place. A pilgrimage is spiritual, fun and has three parts: the journey, the destination and the return home. On the journey, as you let go of your normal routines and security, you can become more open and receptive to God. At the destination you can meet with God in the holy place that feels like a thin spot between heaven and earth. Returning home to your daily lives you will hopefully have been strengthened and changed to live life better. Some pilgrims may even have a life-changing spiritual experience, finding or renewing their Christian faith.
There are several established pilgrimage destinations in England – Canterbury, St Albans, Iona, Holy Island and Walsingham. The Peak Pilgrimage is a new idea, but the origins of the Peak Pilgrimage are ancient.
Eyam has a sense of being a holy place because of the sacrifice of its people in 1665 when they refused to flee in the face of the plague that arrived from London in a consignment of cloth for the village tailor. Led by the rector, their self-sacrifice motivated by their Christian faith saved the surrounding area but cost about a third of them their lives. Up to 100,000 people a year now visit Eyam and become fascinated and inspired by their story. But it is a far deeper experience to visit as a pilgrim than a tourist.
In a way the whole of life is a pilgrimage journey. Christians believe the holy place we are journeying to is the place where God is – heaven. But for a few days you can have a foretaste of heaven on earth – being a pilgrim walking a holy route through marvellous countryside and historic villages, nurturing your own soul and meeting God in the green fields, twinkling streams and ancient churches of the National Park:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” (Psalm 23v1-3).
Of course if it rains for three days, your boots leak and your rucksack is too heavy you might feel this therapeutic idyll is passing you by! So good luck with the weather but at least there are very few exposed sections along the way and there are plenty of nice dry cafes, pubs and churches to shelter in. And remember – no rain means no quiet waters and no green pastures to enjoy!
Rambling about Ramblings
It was the night before the Peak Pilgrimage team were due to meet Clare Balding at Curbar Gap to walk the last seven Pilgrimage miles with her, recording our conversation for the Radio 4 programme ‘Ramblings’. The weather forecast said thick snow but our publicity genius, Simon, decided this wasn’t good enough and announced he would pray for good weather instead. The day dawned bright and clear with not a drop of precipitation until we were walking in the door of Eyam church. Simon’s prayer-power over the weather is now legendary. Let us know if you can pull off the same trick on your pilgrimage!
Clare was a delight to have as a walking companion as she quizzed each of us in turn about our part in the creation of the pilgrimage and about the walk itself. Mike the crazy current Rector of Eyam (you’ll find out a lot more about him if you buy the walking guide), deciding that perambulating on the top of Froggatt Edge was too tame, dropped down to the base of the rock climbs and shinned up something silly sans rope, something which seemed to grab Clare’s attention.
After a picnic stop for first lunch we refreshed ourselves again at the lovely shop and café in Grindleford Church before heading out for Stoney and Eyam. Most of the time, thanks to a woolly hat a bit too large for her, Clare managed to walk incognito, but she certainly generated excitement among a ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ group who spotted her.
If you do this stretch of the pilgrimage look out for Clare’s entry into the visitors books at Grindleford and Stoney, and the Pilgrims’ visitors book in the dedicated box file at Eyam.
The programme was broadcast on Radio 4 at 3pm on Maundy Thursday, 24th March 2016. If you missed it you can always catch up with it on that fancy catch up system on the BBC website.
See what people are saying about the Peak Pilgrimage on Trip Adviser