Poppy’s Pilgrimage Diary: Day 4 – Wharram-le-Street to West Heslerton

With thanks to Priory 900 co-ordinator Penelope Weston

This was Sunday so that means church! We gathered at Wharram le Street around 10 am for Family Service. This was to be led by Flo, the local Methodist lay preacher, with her colleague on the organ – usually they sing to a CD, so this was in our honour and we were very grateful. There was a good group there from the village and we all sang energetically. Nancy spoke for a few minutes about the pilgrimage and its impact – that we were being made very aware of ‘God with us’ as we encountered friends old and new, and this was something that we could try to carry into our everyday life. There was an apposite text about setting out with sandals, staff and pack which we certainly took on board.

By the time we had enjoyed tea and biscuits and further conversation it was noon before we set off up the hill. This was a day dominated by the contours of the Wolds Way. This took us through a wide variety of terrain: more fields of cows – and sheep – deep dales, woodland drives and wide views from tracks along the scarp. All day we enjoyed sunny English skies and a pleasant fresh breeze. Yesterday’s 12 miles was taking its toll, and we were falling behind our schedule, even though we had few church visits along the way. Indeed at Wintringham where the church has been handed to the Historic Churches Trust, we found it closed: this was because there had been a recent incident of vandalism.

Guinness was proving a loyal and steady companion, trotting along with no complaint, but very glad to cool his underneath in a clear chalk stream as we entered Wintringham. The biggest challenge came shortly after that: a very steep climb up onto the top of the Wold above East Heslerton, 60 metre rise over just the 200 metres. Just along from there is the pleasant shock of a large artwork: Enclosure Rites by Jony Easterby, dominating the view over the vale across to the North York Moors. This contains a circular pool, another paddling opportunity for Guinness.

Then straight on along the scarp, through the greenwood, until reaching the road down to West Heslerton. I was indeed flagging a bit by this time and it seemed like an answer to prayer when we met one of the church community from the village who had come up in her car to see where we had got to (we were well late by this time). So Linda and I gratefully accepted a lift down the hill, giving us a little more time in the church where there is a very unusual exhibition of room minatures – too grand to be called dolls houses. There were created by the doyenne of the local big house over many years, and were found in the house after her death. So we ended our day as we had begun it with prayer, before calling in at the pub to get our pilgrimage books stamped. This was a pleasure, because I had left the stamp there only a few weeks ago when the pub had just re-opened.

Now a good night’s sleep before the ‘short’ 7 mile Bank Holiday walk, when we shall be joined by new pilgrims.

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