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 Hospice.

On a snowy day in the early spring, I took up where I had left off and explored the next leg, going via East Harling to Roudham Heath. On the way I found an open door, snowdrops and welcome at  Quidenham church.  In Roudham, next to the ruined church,   I discovered  a fragment of Saxon coffin lid built in to a pedestrian shelter.

  After crossing under the A11, and on through forest tracks, I came to the Roudham Heath way station.
On my way cross country  I thought of the cross and I turned the significance of the project over in my mind. It seemed to me that crossing  England and Wales, “from utmost east to utmost west”,   claims the land for Christ and that perhaps a north/south route is called for!
With 6 way stations in place between Lowestoft and Brandon, pathfinders have been testing out the route before publishing a guide to the East Anglian section.  For the time being there is a wide gap between Brandon and the next way station on the Welsh border at Hay on Wye.  It’s a work in progress!

You can find out more about the Via online at or by phoning Steve and Gill Eggleton. Tel 01953 887579


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