Text and photos © to Derry Brabbs
The rural roads, bridle tracks and footpaths of Europe are once again echoing with the sound of pilgrims’ feet following a resurgence that began during the latter decades of the twentieth century. “I planned this book,” says the author, “as a celebration of the legacy left to us by the concept of pilgrimage and its manifestation in the glorious churches, cathedrals and sublime examples of craftsmanship in wood, stone and glass that has brought them alive. I hope that you are inspired to set out on a long and purposeful walk.”
Caption: The hilltop village of Cirauqui in the early stages of the Camino Frances (484 miles/31 days) cascades down on all sides from the prominent outline of the Romanesque church.
Caption: England’s St Cuthbert’s Way to Lindisfarne (Holy Island) (62 miles/five days): The causeway from the far northeast corner of the English mainland leads to the island of Lindisfarne. The raised wooden hut is the place of refuge for anyone foolishly caught out by the rapidly incoming tide. The monk saint was buried at Lindisfarne in the year 687 AD.
Pilgrimages in Europe are thriving on a massive scale. This century the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela alone has seen 40 times the number of pilgrim visits. This new book revisits the classic and most popular route, and nine other inspirational journeys across Europe as well.
Caption: The town of Le Puy-en-Velay at the beginning of France’s Via Podiensis (460 miles/30 days) is Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe (the needle) accessed by means of 268 steps cut into the volcanic rock face. A local bishop built this chapel in 969 AD to celebrate his safe return from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Caption: Half way to Santiago de Compostela on the Camino Frances (484/31 days), a ruined medieval hilltop castle and church dominate the important pilgrimage village of Castrojeriz.
Whether you’re truly making a pilgrimage, exploring the world, or simply hiking, Pilgrimage will lead you along deeply historical routes like the ‘Jakobsweg’ in Germany, between the old Roman towns of Cologne and Trier. You’ll find great walks in Britain and France, like St. Cuthbert’s Way which winds around the Scottish Borders to the holy island of Lindisfarne, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mont Saint-Michel built on a tiny island off the coast of Normandy.
Caption: Munchner Jakobsweg (180 miles/15 days) between the German cities of Munich and Landau boasts the Pilgrimage Church of the Scourged Saviour at Wies. It is one of the finest and most complete examples of 18th century Rococo religious art in Germany and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Caption: The Via Francigena through Switzerland may be shorter (114 miles/10 days) than the French and Italian stages of this longer route, but it has the distinctive Great St. Bernard Pass with the hospice founded by the saint in the mid-11th century. It has remained in continuous use to the present day and is open year round.
The most notable addition to the rejuvenated era of pilgrimage is the Via Francigena, now a very well-established path through Switzerland and Italy. The Italian section begins on the bleak summit of Switzerland’s Great St. Bernard Pass where a hospice still caters to the needs of passing pilgrims before they make their way south to Rome through some of Italy’s most beguiling countryside interspersed with medieval hilltop towns and villages.
Caption: Monte de Gozo (Mount Joy) was traditionally the hilltop from which pilgrims caught their first glimpse of the ultimate destination, Santiago de Compostela. These large modern bronze sculptures clearly convey the relief and exuberance of that moment.
Caption: Italy’s Via di Francesco (111 Miles/9 days) starts in La Verna and ends in Assisi where St Francis was born in 1182. Catch the inspiring pilgrim view while walking into Assisi and the basilica of San Francisco!
PILGRIMAGE: The Great Pilgrim Routes of Britain and Europe
By Derry Brabbs
Published in 2017, 256 pages, Hardcover ISBN: 9780711239005
Liberally illustrated with large images and route maps throughout the book.
Frances Lincoln, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group.
Available in local book shops and from online stores such as Amazon.
Astounding photographs combine with an absorbing text that describes the history and key features of each route, as well as brief details of the distances and the number of days it takes to walk, maps of each route, and a list of websites to help plan your journey.
Derry Brabbs is one of England’s finest photographers specializing in heritage and landscape, with more than thirty illustrated books to his credit. Based in Harrogate, Yorkshire, he is also conducts photography workshops and is an engaging and informative public speaker. www.derrybrabbs.com