Pilgrimage was a well-established part of religious life in medieval times, with believers travelling great distances to visit holy shrines. Today, walkers continue to be drawn to the ancient pilgrim routes, and below we list those of our itineraries which give you a taste of life on the pilgrim trail…
In addition to the breaks featured below, we have recently introduced a walking holiday along Spain's iconic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.
France's miracle village
The remarkable ‘hanging village’ of Rocamadour has been famous since the Middle Ages, when miracles established it as a pilgrims’ goal along the path to Santiago de Compostela. The village is one of the most extraordinary sights in France – it clings to a cliff with the houses on the lowest level, the ecclesiastical centre above, and a castle towering over the whole settlement. On our Paths to Rocamadour walking holiday, you trace a network of gorges and river plains towards the village, enjoying fine views and some great regional cuisine before finally entering Rocamadour like the pilgrims of old – on foot.
A venerable land
Not only does our High Paths of Northern Portugal walking holiday reveal the high plateaus, jagged peaks and astounding views of the country’s only National Park, it also follows several pilgrim paths which have been in use for centuries as a means of connecting remote hamlets with places of worship. One such path leads across the Soajo mountains to the spectacular sanctuary of Our Lady of Peneda, while another offers views of shimmering Lake Cavado as it takes you along a forest track to the stone-spired Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Abadia, still an important pilgrimage site today.
The road to Rome
Timeless Tuscany is the name we give to our centre-based Tuscan walking holiday on which you stay at a delightful estate near to the town of Gambassi Terme. Historically, Gambassi was a stopping place for wayfarers and pilgrims travelling the Via Francigena, the ancient route that led from Canterbury to Rome. On this holiday, you have a couple of opportunities to follow the Via Francigena: across the glorious open countryside close to your hotel; or all the way to the medieval town gate of San Gimignano – one of Tuscany’s most popular destinations, where arriving on foot adds an extra dimension.
Steeped in history
There are some superb sights to be seen on the North Norfolk coast: vast golden beaches, pristine nature reserves and historic harbour villages where brightly painted boats bob in the creeks. However, our hotel-to-hotel walking holiday in North Norfolk also gives you the chance to travel inland on the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway – the smallest heritage steam railway in public operation – to Walsingham. Famed for its religious shrines in honour of the Virgin Mary and once one of northern Europe's greatest places of pilgrimage, the town enjoyed a 20th-century revival and is today going from strength to strength as a modern pilgrimage site.
Covadonga - a cultural icon
A visit to the beautiful glacial lakes of Enol and Ercina is one of the highlights of our centre-based walking holiday in Asturias. The drive up to the lakes is spectacular, taking in a fabulous viewpoint as well as the sanctuary of Our Lady of Covadonga – a place of pilgrimage for Asturians because it was here in 722AD that a vision of the Virgin appeared to soldiers before a successful battle against their Muslim overlords. This victory is often considered to be the start of the Reconquista (‘reconquest’) – a 770-year effort by Christian states to expel Muslim rulers from Iberia.