Biddy’s Walking Guinea Pigs Complete the Via Beata
Via Beata – The Blessed way – A pilgrimage in modern times 2017 – 2022 (With the Covid pandemic causing a two year gap)
Four women from Norfolk set out to explore the route alongside their personal journeys. Five years of walking as a team has added a further dimension of joy to our lives, alongside the rich pattern of our family lives. In that time we have welcomed newborn children, shared the joy of weddings, and said sad farewells to close ones.
When we set off from Lowestoft, we hadn’t quite understood the nature of the challenge we were taking on. It became a journey which would stretch us in many ways, physically and mentally.
We learned to plan the logistics, ensuring we had the necessary transport available, accommodation booked in advance, and provisions to sustain us on the hikes. Without these plans the physical task could not have been undertaken, and frequently we worked against the established infrastructure in rural environments..
We collected the Maps and Route guidance from Via Beata’s website, together with the Ordinance Survey versions to support our understanding. We learned to use these as tools to guide our direction, however it was often the teamwork that helped us resolve the challenges we faced.
We needed protection from the elements, so our hiking boots and poles, thermals and waterproofs and wind protection from the elements to arm our bodies for the walk.
Walking the Via Beata provided a true purpose to our hiking activity. We have explored the beautiful countryside in England and Wales, and found the physical and emotional space to be ourselves. Our walking has provided time to reflect on life and grow spiritually in the green pastures and by still waters. The way-stations have helped keep us focussed on the spiritual side of the journey,
We have celebrated the four seasons in our walks, each presenting its glory and majesty, we have reflected on the beauty of each in turn.
We have been grateful for the weather, yes, we did have wet days – one in Northamptonshire and another in Powys, and an occasional shower. Indeed we have been blessed on our Via Beata.
We have developed wonderfully deep friendships, sharing the opportunity to consider and discuss the issues of the day, we have shared laughter and tears, and grown in the quiet places along the way. Our support networks at home have provided essential encouragement for our journey.
We have improved our personal fitness on our walking trips, together with stamina and resilience. The long distance walks have tested our determination but the team project has encouraged us all to stay committed to completing the task.
As we complete the journey from coast to coast, we reflect on the experience in gratitude, feeling small and insignificant as we pass through the majestic countryside.
However we have faced our fears and overcome challenges. We have grown in confidence and resilience. We have grown as a team in wonderful friendships.
We have connected to individuals and communities we have met on the way, and to nature, we have passed by hamlets and villages, town and cities, counties and countries, with diverse characteristics and style, each one unique and precious.
In conclusion, we echo the sentiments of T.S. Elliott; these adventures have become part of ourselves and we understand them more for having completed the journey.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Little Gidding, T.S.Elliot
Alison Seeley Sarah Adler
Alison Glover Carol Watson