I think I spotted this walk in the LDWA magazine a few years ago, and the guide book, by Nancy and John Eckersley, has been on my bookshelf since then. (along with several others!)
The original idea for the walk came at the time of the 1400th anniversary of the birth of Hilda (or Hild as she would have been known) in 614. The area around Whitby has many associations with St. Hilda, so through local churches a 40mile route was devised. It was designed as a pilgrimage visiting the churches named after St. Hilda.
So who was St. Hilda? She was born into royalty in the turbulent C7th. Her father was assassinated before she was born, and the family lived in exile in the Kingdom of Elmet, now part of Yorkshire. At the time the large region of Northumbria was ruled by Hilda’s uncle King Edwin. After his death, Oswald became king and re-introduced Christianity to the region, founding Lindisfarne monastery and Aidan preached the gospel.
When Hilda was 13 she heard Paulinus, a missionary from Rome, preach and she was subsequently baptised in York, 627. The family later fled to Kent when Northumbria was overrun again. At the age of 33 she became a nun and was called by Aidan to found a monastery north of the Wear and a year later she became an Abbess at Hartlepool. In 657, she founded the monastery at Whitby. To cut a long story short, she became a woman noted for her wisdom and kindness, she trained bishops, advised Kings and laid the beginnings of a literary house at Whitby. She remained at Whitby for the rest of her life, dying in 680. She was buried there, but later her remains were moved to Glastonbury. Sainthood after her death was probably bestowed upon her by the local Christians.
I’m not intending my walk to be a pilgrimage in the religious sense, but a way of exploring the moors and valleys of this part of North Yorkshire with the added interest of the St. Hilda connections. In order to have time to visit and appreciate the churches, I am planning on about 10 miles per day, which fits in with accommodation possibilities.
Now how do I get to Whitby?