The first ever St Patrick’s Way Pilgrim Walk got off to a safe start this week thanks to a partnership between the Saint Patrick Centre, Downpatrick and Phoenix Natural Gas to provide high-vis safety vests for walkers taking part in the new 22km ‘camino’ style walk.
An opportunity to explore the beauty and history of Downpatrick and its links to St Patrick, the new walk, sets off from the Saint Patrick Centre taking in Inch Abbey, Saul Church, Slieve Patrick, Struell Wells and St Patrick’s Church before finishing at St Patrick’s Grave at Down Cathedral.
Led by pilgrim guides, former BBC political correspondent Martina Purdy and former barrister, Elaine Kelly, walkers have an opportunity to learn about the rich local history and reflect on the area’s close links to Ireland’s patron saint.
Phoenix Natural Gas provided its support to the new walk with the provision of high-vis vests for participants to ensure their visibility along the walking route. Speaking about their support Jonathan Martindale, Director of Business Development at Phoenix Natural Gas said: “We are delighted to support the Saint Patrick’s Centre with the launch of this new walk which will give even more people an opportunity to explore rich local history in an area of outstanding natural beauty. We are pleased to play a part in keeping the walkers safe and visible with the provision of high-viz vests.”
As the first walkers set off, Tim Campbell, Director at the Saint Patrick Centre said: “This is an exciting new project which was created during the lockdown to encourage people to come and enjoy the countryside and to experience the rich legacy of our patron saint and the beauty and history of Downpatrick.
“Keeping walkers safe at this time means we are working with smaller groups so we can ensure social distancing and we want to thank Phoenix Natural Gas for their support in providing the high-vis vests to keep participants visible along the route.”
The 22km St Patrick’s Way Pilgrim Walk can be completed in a day or split over two sessions with participants receiving a Pilgrim’s Passport which they stamp upon completion of each stop on the walk.
With elements of history, nature and reflection, Martina Purdy, one of the Pilgrim Guides explained that there is something to interest everyone along the way: “The St Patrick’s Way Pilgrim Walk offers an opportunity to rejuvenate physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s a very inclusive walk which we expect will appeal to people of all faiths as well as to those with none. We would encourage people to come on a journey of self-discovery with us and in the words of St Patrick, ‘Be amazed all you people’.”
The St Patrick’s Way Pilgrim Walk was officially launched on 1st July with the first walkers setting off from the Saint Patrick Centre at 9.30am. Further details on the walk can be found at: www.saintpatrickcentre.com
Further information on community support from Phoenix Natural Gas can be found at: www.phoenixnaturalgas.com/about-us/phoenix-group/corporate-responsibility
Photo caption: Pilgrim Guides Martina Purdy, and Elaine Kelly are pictured at the launch of the first St Patrick’s Way Walk alongside Dr Tim Campbell, Director at the Saint Patrick Centre and Gillian Orr from Phoenix Natural Gas who provided their support to help keep participants safe while on the walk.