Strat-Florida---Ceredigion---Wales---Guided-Pilgrimage

A guided pilgrimage to spiritual health

When we think of ‘pilgrimage’, we naturally associate it with a journey to a shrine or other location of importance that relates to someone’s beliefs and faith. Common pilgrimages include travelling to the birthplace of Lord Buddha in Rupandehi, Nepal; the home of the Pope and centre of the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican City in Rome; plus our local pilgrimage, 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 to link to any faith.

We spoke to Christine Smith of Guided Pilgrimages 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 all unique and we all go through times of questioning and struggle. You may not feel that you need therapy or counselling but just wish for someone who could listen with wisdom and understanding while you work out issues for yourself.

My ability to guide people on a psychological journey, coupled with my love for nature and exploring some of the most beautiful parts of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire gives me all the tools required to provide magical and extremely powerful experiences.

I am also a qualified Lowland Leader and first aider.

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.

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 an 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, if this is something you feel you will benefit from.

The luxury of travelling with us means your accommodation is organised in advance and your luggage transferred ready for your arrival at each rest point.

We encourage a shared experience at all times and promote communal food prep for the 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 time.

At the end of the pilgrimage, we check in with each of you to hear how you have benefited from the journey and more often than not, we connect socially to develop like-minded friendships for the long term.

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 June, 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.

How can we hear about future pilgrimages?

Future pilgrimages will include journeys to North Wales, St Davids, Tintern Abbey and 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 | 2-4 Jun | 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.

£240pp

(for every full pilgrimage booked, Guided Pilgrimage will give a donation to the Woodland Trust)

3 DAYS

Hire a guide to your chosen destination

£200-£250 per day for groups up to 12 participants. Larger groups can also be catered for (cost excludes travel expenses)

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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