Showing posts from 2013

Utmost East

On a Friday morning, in the dark of winter, I watched the sunrise on the most easterly point of the  British Isles.  I had come to Lowestoft Ness to trace the mirror image of a walk I’d taken in the autumn. 

Then I had travelled south and east from Land’s End and finished at the church of St. Levan.  I had reversed the order of  east  and west,  but  lines from the hymn kept popping into my head, “From  utmost east for utmost west, where er man’s foot hath trod.....” And I thought of  St. Levan, who had evangelised that part of Cornwall and our early East Anglian missionary saints - Felix and Fursey, Botolf and Cedd. They all loved the sea and built their hermits’ cells and monasteries on the edge. All would have approved of the children’s chorus “Wide, wide as the ocean...”
Night turned to day as I started out along Gas Works Road towards the semi-redundant fish docks.  It doesn’t sound promising, does it? But not everything was gloom and doom. There were signs of  green shoots amon…

Christmas is Coming

“The Nativity - in the coldest, darkest, dog days of the year something to celebrate! New life! New life from another world! To which we may draw near! “
These words do just as well when applied to Christmas, or the Grey Seals born on our beaches from November to January each year! The parallels continue - “Usually, there’s plenty of room for everyone but at Christmas it’s hard to find a parking place!” Etc..
Horsey had a bumper season last year with over 600 baby seals.  For the  first 3 weeks they remain on the beach fed by their mums. They are very appealing, very photogenic and people love them.   On Boxing day and New Years Day there was parking chaos when thousands of people turned up on the same days. The pub was so crowded that it was a repeat performance of no room in the inn! If you can find a place, parking is at Horsey Corner with a walk of about 1.5 miles.  Alternatively, it’s 2 miles from Winterton or the National Trust Horsey Mere car park to where the bulk of the seals ar…

From Utmost West

We joined the coastal footpath just a mile south of Land's End.

What a place to have a picnic!

How we missed the packaged experience and the retail opportunity!!

Eventually, passing amorous seals and flights of gannets fishing close in shore, we came to the  Church of St. Levan.

St.Levan, famously, preached to the fishes.  What, I wondered, might I say?
Surely I would quote from St. Paul, "In him we live move and have our being."  "God is the sea, then ?" I hear the fish reply reply, "Yes! Yes and no! More than the sea! More like the sea behind the sea!" But I said too much and thought too little!

By the side of the church is a legendary stone The saint, so it is said struck it with his staff and split it! Others say,  it was a famous pagan stone known as a place of  fertility and that the round-headed celtic cross erected beside it was to Christianize it! To me the juxtaposition of stone and cross look like a British version of a Yoni and Lignam


St. Just-in-Roseland

Fast forward from the year dot

when  legend says Joseph of Arimathea landed here with the boy Jesus - to the 5th century when St. Just established a  church and hermitage on the shores of the River Fal.

Ever since then, the Churches mission here has been to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ and to invite men and women, boys and girls to follow him!

A 13th century church replaced the original chapel and those who continue the saint's mission keep  an open door and welcome visitors from near and far. 

What burdens visitors carry, they may let go 

And they can find a new direction in their lives

Download the Way of Life 

When will we ever learn

With the sandy soil of Breckland beneath my feet    I walked the Desert Rats trail in ThetfordForest.  The 7th Armoured Division,  who had earned their nickname in the sands of North Africa,   had been stationed here in the months leading up to D. Day in 1944.   There is a  Cromwell Tank beside the A1065 between Mundford and Swaffham which is a war memorial to their dead and marks the beginning of the walk.
A  way-marked path with interpretation boards leads visitors around the site of the former camp and tells the  history of the famous fighting force. I made the easy 2 mile walk in reflective mood.  It was, you could say, an act of remembrance.  I am a war baby and my father had served alongside the Desert Rats in North Africa. By way of coincidence my son is serving with the 7th Armoured Brigade  today, providing boots on the (sandy) ground  in Afghanistan.
 The sounds of military aircraft overhead and the crump of demolition charges from the Training Area were sufficient reminder…

Summer Days in Lower Saxony

There are charming villages, old towns, summer beer kellers under shade giving trees.
Its everso clean and affluent. But there in the midst - you could overlook it if you chose - a reminder of darkness.

They have done a brilliant job documenting 10,000 of the hundreds of thousands who died in the camp. The displays of pictures, videos etc. are wonderfully well done but it was the contrast of the amazing facilities loos with running water as much as you want and a cafe with cool drinks compared with the sheer bloody harshness of the prisoners lives that made the biggest impression.
I was challenged by the Jewish memorial:
we must not let the earth forget the blood shed.
As I contemplated the Jews, Jehovas Witnesses, Gay Men and others treated inhumanely it semed not to be my role to forgive. Victims, their family and loved ones, God even, yes they might forgive. "Judgement is mine!" saith the Lord. Yes and forgiveness too! And I reckoned that one of the problems that the Chu…

Walking on Water ?!

It’s difficult to follow in the steps of someone who walked on water! The best I can do is to take to my canoe!

On a summer’s evening I slipped it into the water and went with the flow. Biblical references bubbled up in my mind –  “The river of God is full of water” (Psalm 96); Ezekiel’s vision of a flood of  water flowing from the temple bringing life to the desert and Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47); Jesus’ baptism,  his Galilee ministry and the promise of streams of living water springing up to eternal life. Birdsong filled the air,  I was intoxicated by the beauty around me and  my attention was focused slightly beyond, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mystery  - of the Lord who walked in the cool of the evening !
My reverie was broken by passing boats.  A hire cruiser pushed up river towards conviviality, food, drink  and  warm welcome that awaited at Coltishall’s Rising Sun.  In the opposite direction, a late day boat hurried back to Wroxham. Unfairly, a bit of me felt quite indignant! …

Consider the Flowers at Hethel

The people of Hethel want you to use their church and the surrounding area for your spiritual well-being.  Their notice board and their entry on the website make it equally clear. You couldn’t be more warmly welcomed!
If you were  looking for a place to heed Jesus’ call to “ Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ (Matt.6.31), or to  “Consider the lilies, how they grow.” (Luke 12.27) All Saints’, Hethel  would suit your needs perfectly.
Next door to the church is the country’s  smallest nature reserve with the country’s oldest Hawthorn tree. It is inevitable that someone should have claimed it as having sprung from Joseph of Arimathea’s staff but it is only 700 year old! 

Across the road from the church, maps and a series of way marks invite you to saunter round Permissive Footpaths through woods and pastures. In April the last of the snowdrops and primroses lined the way. By the beginning of May there will be a profusion of bluebells!In…


Incongruous  - is a word that covers it!  Seen from afar it looked like a small rural bus stop miles from the nearest road. The open fronted shelter stands beside the Hereward Way  long distance footpath  where it wends its way through a Thetford Forest fire break.
This was my destination. I’d come to visit it and take in the carved  wooden plaque on the rear wall. Its subject?  The Tree of Life!  What a place to pause for thought! A small notice explains that the artwork and shelter belong to the Via Beata and names the artist as Cathy Stables.

The Via Beata  - it translates as Way of Blessing -  is a project that aims to establish a path from Lowestoft Ness in the east to St. David’s Head in the west and  punctuate it with works of art that turn hearts and minds to the things of God.  In 2009 I had walked part of the Via from the first way station at Banham to Quidenham.  That was before any art work had been installed. Now a crucifix stands on the green outside the Children’s Hospi…