Bishop’s Castle to Ratlinghope

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Becoming a group – the Lone Pilgrim of yesterday morning has now two companions – and they are ‘despatched’ from the Lych gate at Bishop’s Castle Parish Church by a passing cyclist – who also happens to be an Anglican Cleric

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Along the Montgomery Rd – and over the shoulder of hill separating ‘The Castle’, from the Camlad valley.

And into Lydham – where other pilgrims were waiting

Lydham is settled at the head of the Camlad valley and probably had ancient significance as a crossing point between the valleys of Camlad (leading to the Upper Severn Valley and Onny (leading east to Ludlow). At at a time when Bishop’s Castle had no existence (Domesday Book) Lydham had a mill and probably a ‘canal’ feeding it with water from the Onny at More.

The group then crossed the fields between Lydham and More. The footpath route allows for appreciation of the likely significance of this area; More Castle – now merely undulations in a field, is very extensive – maybe indicating an attempted town?

Following a brief stop to view More Church (and the curiosities of the More chapel) they passed along lanes pausing briefly within sight of Linley Hall.

The on to Norbury – which had just celebrated a school Harvest festival

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Norbury Church-yard has an unusual feature, built into the wall – a bier house. The bier was a frame on which a body or coffin is placed prior to and during the funeral service. Wheeled biers in the C19th century were well constructed and many survive (one was seen in Clun Church on this pilgrimage). The bier house was the storage place for the bier and usually has access to the road (rather than facing into the churchyard) to ease the process of pulling it to the house of the deceased, from whence it carried the coffin to the Church.

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The morning was completed with a climb from the valley of the East Onny river to Wentnor.

Here the pilgrims had lunch in the Crown Inn – some delighting in working their way through a very filling and delicious rabbit pie. Before leaving they were all required to stand in line outside the Parish Church – the group now being joined by the local vicar, The Revd. Prebendary Norman Morris

Leaving Wentnor the group ascended their final hill – Adstone Hill. As all pilgrims and other walkers fully comprehend, the journey over hill and through dale can present a variety of difficulties, not all of them fully expected. Even highly experienced walkers can be challenged in ways that maybe surprise:

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On such occasions, sensitive companions can become essential supporters. RL Stevenson wrote: …’the best we find in our travels is an honest friend. He is a fortunate traveller who finds many. We travel, indeed, to find them. They are the end and the reward of life….’ (Travels with a Donkey)

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The group survive their difficulties pass over the hill and reach their destination – Ratlinghope Church and the grave of the last sin eater in Shropshire.

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In the Church the story of the sin eater is re-told. Outside the pilgrimage ends, as it began, in Latin.

Amici, comitesque cari…

Dear friends and companions…

Ad finem peregrinationis tuto pervenimus.

We have safely reached the end of our Pilgrimage.

 Ut antea, orbem pulchram, Dei donum, verbis carminibusque celebravimus;

As before we have celebrated our beautiful god-given world with songs and poems:

Societate nostri Beneficii et liberalitate hospitium fructi sumus.

We have enjoyed the fellowship of our Benefice and the generosity of our hosts.

Alii a ripis Tamii fluminis ad ripas Onnii Orientalis iter fecerunt,

Some have travelled from the banks of the Teme to the banks of the East Onny,

 Alii modo partem huius itineris confecerunt.

Others have only done part of this journey.

 Trans Beneficia Silvae Cluniae contendimus,  

We have marched across the Benefices of the Clun Forest,

 Et hic, in terra peccataphagorum, peregrinationem conficimus.

And here in the land of the sin-Eaters we complete our pilgrimage.

 Gratias omnibus qui strenue laboraverunt ut peregrinatione splendida iterum gauderemus.

Thanks to everyone who worked hard that we might enjoy another splendid pilgrimage.

 Nunc domum laeti reveniamus.

Now let us return home joyfully.

 Valete. Curate ut valeatis. Deus vobiscum.

Goodbye – look after yourselves. God be with you.

 Sed primum est bibendum! Ad villam publicam festinemus.

But first it’s time for a drink – let us hurry to the pub!

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Ad villam publicam festinemus is exactly what they did

– resting awhile at the nearby Bridges Inn.

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