How intention turns a walk into a pilgrimage – plus 5 British pilgrim trails

The co-author of a book on Britain’s pilgrimages reveals the benefits of structuring a walk around a purpose that is ‘determined by your heart’

When we are set free from our confinement, what are the safe options for venturing out? Last year was the year of walking outdoors, so perhaps – and I may be biased – 2021 will be the year for pilgrimages, given that throughout history people have made pilgrimages at times of crisis? To lay the ground for rediscovery, in summer 2020 the British Pilgrimage Trust (BPT) launched Britain’s Pilgrim Places, a compendium of 600 sites and 100 routes, which I co-authored.

Walking outdoors is how, throughout history, many of humanity’s greats have found meaning, made discoveries, and embarked upon new paths of inner discovery. In Thinking, Fast And Slow, Nobel-prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman explains how walking is the perfect ambulatory speed to free our minds. As we sit in our chairs, our minds are good at executing tasks but not at thinking big. Going for a run clears our mind, but it’s hard to keep your train of thought. Walk, however, and your mind can become the blue sky above you, allowing your thoughts to soar and form new connections. Extended walking also frees your emotions.

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