A guided pilgrimage to spiritual health

When we think of ‘pilgrimage’, we naturally associate it with a journey to a shrine and usually related to a person’s faith. Popular pilgrimages include travelling to the birthplace of Lord Buddha in Rupandehi, Nepal; the Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca; the many routes to Santiago de Compostela plus our own local pilgrimage to the birthplace of Saint David at St Davids Cathedral in Pembrokeshire.

Religious commitments aside, a pilgrimage can also be a metaphorical journey, into your inner self to explore your own values and beliefs and to prepare for change.

We’ve discovered a contemporary approach to pilgrimage right here in west Wales, providing the experience of a guided outer journey to a special destination, and the space for you to explore an inner journey. None of which need link to any faith.

We spoke to Christine Smith of Guided Pilgrimage to hear more about the journeys she hosts in west Wales.

What inspired you to lead guided pilgrimages?

I have been profoundly interested in what makes us tick as human beings for the last 30 years. This exploration has seen me qualify as a homeopath, a reflexologist, and a teacher and I have delved deep as I have followed my own spiritual journey. I am also a qualified Spiritual Companion having completed training with William Bloom of the Spiritual Companions Trust.

Our lives are unique and we all go through times of questioning and struggle. Those are the times when we need perhaps to connect with the sense of something bigger, to go beyond our limited ego minds and find some peace. I have always found that being in nature helps me do that. Frédéric Gros says it beautifully in ‘Philosophy of Walking’:

“None of your knowledge, your reading, your connections will be of any use here: two legs suffice, and big eyes to see with. Walk alone, across mountains or through forests. You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind.”

As a qualified Lowland Leader and first aider, I am able to give people time and space to explore as well as enjoying of the beauty of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

Your guided pilgrimages promote spiritual health, can you tell us how this relates to those who follow different faiths or none at all?

Spirituality is not connected to any faith. Spirituality is our natural connection with the wonder and energy of life; and the instinct to explore that experience and its meaning. Some people find their connection through music, some through nature, some through prayer. We are all different and that is wonderful.

With the right focus, we can choose to live the best life we can in the short time we are on this earth. Our pilgrimages provide a safe space for people to not only enjoy time out in nature and the company of others, they can also review where they are emotionally and adjust or improve their focus/values/ways of living to be able to self-manage and become ‘spiritually healthy’.

What happens on a guided pilgrimage?

Pilgrimages are essentially guided walks to a destination, with points of interest and Welsh heritage to explore along the way. We travel in a small group at a suitable pace for all. There’s time to explore and take photographs of your discoveries, plus time to stop and breathe in the fresh air, including quiet time.

The luxury of travelling with us means your accommodation is organised in advance and your luggage can be transferred ready for your arrival at each rest point (or you may prefer the true pilgrim style and take your chattels with you).

We encourage a shared experience at all times and promote communal food prep for any meals that are included as part of your stay. In time out during the evening, we share videos from various spiritual leaders (perhaps even arrange for a local speaker to share some knowledge) to encourage discussion and food for thought. We also provide the opportunity for you to stretch and meditate as a group pre and post walking.

What fitness level is required to participate?

We attempt to make our pilgrimages as inclusive as we can, yet as it’s predominantly a walking activity, participants should feel comfortable walking at a steady pace to be able to cover the mileage we highlight for each trip. Mileage is equally split over the days available and we stop regularly to take in the sights and enjoy refreshments.

How can we join a pilgrimage?

We are running a pilgrimage to the 12th Century Cistercian Monastery in Strata Florida, Ceredigion in July and September (see below for the full itinerary and to book).

You can also book me as a guide to a destination of your choice. This is perfect if you are a spiritual leader, a personal development coach or facilitator who prefers to focus on your skills leading your group, whilst the journey logistics, insurance and first aid are taken care of by Guided Pilgrimage (see Special Offer below)

How can we hear about future pilgrimages?

Future pilgrimages will include journeys to North Wales, St Davids, Tintern Abbey and more to/from Strata Florida including the Monk’s Trodd. To hear more about these trips and to keep in touch, sign up to receive news on our website.

Pilgrimage to Strata Florida

3 days | 30 miles | 7-9 Jul | 8-10 Sept

Offering delightful walking through the Aeron Valley, Ceredigion, before heading up towards the rural town of Tregaron and onto the ruins of the 12th Century Cistercian Monastery at Strata Florida.



Hire a guide for your group

From £120 per half day (£200 full day) for groups up to 12 participants. Larger groups and longer durations can be catered for.  Tailor made pilgrimage to a destination of your choice (cost excludes travel expenses).



50% reduction on Private Guide prices for bookings made before 1st August 2019.  (Tours to be taken before 31st December 2019 and fully prepaid before 1st Oct 2019)

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Author - Sally Boyton

Author - Sally Boyton

Founder of Life Seeker, passionate about adventuring in west Wales, living simply and inspiring others to find happiness through positive living. Designer. Marketing specialist. People person.

contact sal

This story is part of the Life Seeker newspaper

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