I love that I live in an area where there is a rich history of centuries of Christianity, and that is traversed by ancient paths well-trod by many a pilgrim. When I started writing my second novel, I knew it would be about Hywel, and that it would include monks and abbeys, but I also wanted him to take a physical journey. And what better way than to make it a pilgrimage? A recognisable one. And I had the perfect fit, right on my doorstep – the North Wales Pilgrim route from Holywell to Bardsey.
It is a route still walked by pilgrims and walkers today, although it perhaps does not have the prestige it once had. In medieval times it was said that if you completed the pilgrimage to Bardsey three times, it was the equivalent of a pilgrimage to Rome, in terms of the favour and indulgences it could earn you. Today it is just a beautifully scenic route, following the seacoast and traversing mountains, with ancient holy sites and churches along it’s route. If those are things that interest you.
I have never done the full route, and I would love to, if ever I am able to. But there are pilgrim sites that I have visited many times and are dear to me. They also feature in Hywel’s story as significant places, where he encounters God in different ways.
This little village with a large church sits on the north coast of the Lleyn Peninsula. It was a busy place in the height of the pilgrimage era, hosting pilgrims and providing for their needs. A must stop for the medieval pilgrim, not least for St Bueno’s healing well nearby. The church that stands there now would not have been there when Brother Hywel arrived. But there was a church, and in that church Hywel experiences something of heaven in the simple worship of it’s community.
All that remains at Pistyll is the tiny pilgrim church, perched as it is on the cliff top. This is probably the very church that Hywel would have stepped into. Before the simple altar in this one-roomed stone building Hywel truly understands what mercy and grace mean to him personally. I love Pistyll, its peace and beauty. It stays with you, as it will in Hywel’s heart.
It is no lie to say that this is my favourite place in the whole world. To stand on this cliff top, overlooking the island of Bardsey and the wide endless ocean beyond, really feels like you are standing on the edge of the world. And that if you reach up your hands you could touch heaven itself. It is a thin place. Yes the views are magnificent and the sea air fresh and clean, but it is more than that. I have never felt closer to the Creator in any other place I have been. I think it might be partly due to the thousands of faithful saints that have stood on that hill, overjoyed at last to see the island that was their destination. Full of praise to God for getting them there. Hywel feels it too, and experiences a moment of sheer exuberant joy on that mountain top.
I would love to tell you more about Hywel’s pilgrimage and what he sees and experiences on the way, but for that you will have to read the book! The Pilgrim is due to be published July 2022 but you can pre-order a copy from me now https://joymargetts.com/contact/
And if you would like a sneak preview of The Pilgrim then do subscribe to my newsletter and in a few days time you will receive a post with an extract from the book, and a little bit of information about my personal connection with Hywel’s story. You can sign up here https://joymargetts.com/
Thank you for being a part of my writing journey, which has become such a huge part of my own life pilgrimage.
Joy Margetts is new to blogging, and new to being published. Her debut novel ‘The Healing‘ was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. A work of historic fiction, set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, it is also a story of faith, hope and God’s redemptive power. Joy has also self- published a short novella, ‘The Beloved‘ as both a companion to ‘The Healing‘, and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle.
‘The Pilgrim‘, her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle in July 2022
More information on Joy and her writing can be found here www.joymargetts.com