Modern-day pilgrims to follow in the footsteps of saints

Modern-day pilgrims are preparing to follow in the footsteps of saints as they embark on a six-day journey across two counties along an ancient and holy route.

The excursion from Carmarthen to St David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire spans almost 70 miles and takes in some of the most scenic landscape along the way. It is open to anyone wanting to reconnect with nature and history whilst at the same time celebrating the beauty of creation.

Organiser, Cyril Phillips, says everyone is welcome to join the walkers as they make their way over six days along the set route - quite literally at times following some of the ancient paths of medieval pilgrims who would have travelled to St David’s centuries ago.

“The whole ethos of the pilgrimage is its simplicity,” says Cyril, a retired accountant from Carmarthen and a devoted rambler . “We will be stopping at some of the area’s most ancient churches and holy places to rest and eat and we will end each day either by pitching up a tent or getting a lift home to rest before joining in again the next day. While some of us will be taking on the entire six-day challenge, not everyone is expected to walk every day. “

The pilgrimage which takes place from May 20-25, follows the success of last year’s excursion which was planned by Cyril to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the declaration in 1123 by Pope Calixtus II that two pilgrimages to St David’s were equal to one to Rome.

Cyril, who has led some 300 walks for Carmarthen Ramblers, has once again carefully planned the route and tried and tested each stage of the journey. Walkers can expect some tricky terrain in places – with a few rivers, streams, ancient woodland, coastal paths, and muddy tracks adding to the challenge.

“My aim is to limit it to off road as much as possible,” says Cyril. “But do come prepared; you will need some good boots, appropriate clothing and food and drinks. If you plan to do more than a day, then ideally it would be wise to get some practice in first.

The pilgrimage will appeal to anyone who loves walking and who wants to escape the stresses and strains of fast-paced 21st century living, as well as deepening their connection with God. 

“Walking in this way is a wonderful way to get to know people. When you walk alongside someone for six or seven hours, you get to know them and usually discover common interests such as nature, the arts, and other interests,” adds Cyril.

The pilgrimage will leave Llangunnor Church following a brief service conducted by Bishop Dorrien Davies on the morning of Monday May 20 and walk from there to St Clears (13 miles). The second leg will be from St Clears to Whitland (7.5 miles) and then onto Llawhaden (11.25 miles) on day three. The fourth day sees the pilgrims heading to Spittal (10.5 miles), then to Brawdy on the fifth day, and finally to St David’s on Saturday May 25. The exact routes for days five and six are still being finalised. Each new day will begin and end with a prayer at one of the many churches along the way.

St Davids Cathedral is a popular centre for pilgrimage. During the medieval period, pilgrims would have travelled to St Davids for many reasons: to pray to the saint for help with life’s difficulties, for themselves or their families, or to pray for loved ones who had died. The landscape around St Davids was sacred to pilgrims. The cathedral contains the shrines of St David and St Caradog, as well as other relics, and there were chapels dedicated to St Justinian, St Non and St Patrick within two miles. 

For more information and a full schedule of the pilgrimage, contact Cyril Phillips on