NEXT THREE CHOIRS FESTIVAL: HEREFORD 28 JULY- 4 AUGUST 2018  
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Dean of Hereford's Walk

Walking the Three Choirs Way

Walking has always been a great love of mine – my only real form of exercise and now, as I approach 65, find it even more important to keep going!
I walk each week from my back gate – nearly always up Dinedor Hill (an Iron Age fort) – 5 or 7 miles, depending on the route, but try to take longer walks too - in my time as Dean, I’ve traversed the diocese from north to south, stopping at various churches en route. My longest walk? Probably the Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury – about 140 miles. Every three years, I’ve taken to walking between the three cathedrals as part of the preparations for the Three Choirs Festival. I’ve used the walk to publicise the festival and also to raise funds – usually divided between the sponsoring of a festival concert and a local charity. In 2012 and 2015, the charity was The Music Pool – supporting local music groups and this year, I’ll be helping to support the Festival charity – SHYPP (Supported Housing for Young People Project).

The route? Always the same! I begin on Sunday 22 April – Hereford to Ledbury – passing ‘The Wonder’ – the remains of the dramatic landslip of 1575
Monday 23 April. Ledbury to Gloucester – calling at Hartpury church with its ‘bee boles’
Tuesday 24 April. Gloucester to Tewkesbury – entirely along the Severn and calling at Deerhurst, with its 2 Saxon churches.
Wednesday 25 April. Tewkesbury to Worcester – still trailing the Severn!
Thursday 26 April. Worcester to Bromyard – via delightful village churches at Leigh and Alfrick
Friday 27 April. Bromyard to Hereford, calling at Marden, church of Hereford’s own Saxon martyr, St Ethelbert.

I guess it’s about 90 miles all told – no really taxing terrain – and at 15 miles a day, not my longest day’s walk, but it’s doing 15 miles for 6 days which is the challenge. Truth to tell, after day 2 it gets easier. What do I think about as I walk? I try to practice ‘mindfulness’ – just letting one’s consciousness focus on the surrounding scenery. Is it prayer? Well, it could be – I think the boundary between prayer and mindfulness is very thin. What I do know is that, when I walk regularly, I set out with a problem, a concern, a sermon unwritten, a speech unfinished – and by the time I return, a lot of it has fallen into place. Perhaps it’s the rhythm of pace that relaxes the mind and body.

So – I look forward to the April walk – and if I can benefit the Festival and its charity At the same time – so much the better!

Funds raised from the Dean's sponsored walk will be shared between the festival's nominated charity SHYPP and Mahan Esfahani's harpsichord recital on Friday 3 August 2018.

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Read about the Dean's progress on his blog