Eyam 350th Plague Commemoration: Peak Pilgrimage Summary
As part of the commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the plague, the people of Eyam Church are creating a permanent new pilgrimage route for walkers through the Peak District National Park – the 35 mile Peak Pilgrimage route from Ilam to Eyam - to be opened up in July 2015. This initiative is being supported by the Diocese of Derby and the Peak District National Park.
A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place. Eyam has a sense of being a holy place because of the self-sacrifice of its people in 1665. Led by the vicar, and motivated by their Christian faith, they decided to stay put rather than flee from the plague so infecting a much wider area. Up to 100,000 people now visit Eyam each year and become inspired by their story. But walking to Eyam as a pilgrim will be a much deeper experience than simply visiting it as a tourist. Historic Ilam is itself a pilgrimage destination as the 7th Century St Bertelin lived here. From Ilam the route goes up Dovedale to Hartington, along the Tissington Trail to Monyash, through Lathkilldale to Bakewell, over Calton Pastures to Chatsworth and Baslow, then either up the Derwent Valley or along Curbar Edge to Stoney Middleton and Eyam. The average party will take three days to walk the route, stopping off at churches along the way to stamp their pilgrimage guides and think about the big issues of life, death, God and faith. When pilgrims arrive in Eyam they will be welcomed to the church with displays and presentations, and opportunities to pray and reflect at the end of their journey.
Long distance walks and pilgrimages are becoming increasingly popular around the world, and we hope that many adults and children, including those of faith and of no faith, as well as those exploring faith, will all enjoy this new spiritual experience. A pioneer group of pilgrims will walk the route on May 20th, 21st and 22nd. At the same time the Peak Pilgrimage website will go live and pilgrimage guides will be on sale once any last minute amendments have been made following the trial walk. The pioneer pilgrims will include the Rector of Eyam (Revd Mike Gilbert) and the author of the pilgrimage guide (Bob Jackson). Press and media interest are welcomed at any time during the pioneer pilgrimage, but especially at the start at 11am on the 20th at Ilam Church because this timing can be guaranteed with some certainty.