Flanked by supporters
the Revd Bruce Nicole set off on a one-month trek from his parish of St Michaelâ€™s Camberley, to Holy Island, Northumbria, this weekend as he launched a Â£2.6million fundraising project for his church.
The 390-mile walk will also be a personal pilgrimage for Bruce, who together with his wife Jane, is a member of the Community of Aidan and Hilda, and will be putting into practice lessons learned from Aidan, the Celtic monk who evangelised Northumbria in the 6th century.
Bruce comments: â€œI previously walked the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in 2006, and it seemed natural to walk from where I live and minister to Holy Island, where the mother house of the Community is situated.
â€œAidan loved to walk, to meet people, and to share his love of Jesus with them, and I look forward to many fruitful and interesting conversations.â€
Aged 161, the parish church of St Michaelâ€™s is in need of a facelift so it can continue to be an effective building for worship and for use by the community.
The changes will include a new community space as well as essential structural work and interior enhancements to make the church easily accessible, flexible and open for all.
Churchwarden Andy Mitchell said: "Bruce has chosen a wonderful way of demonstrating not just his own faith, but his faith in the renewal of St Michael's. Our project to raise these funds isn't just about a new church building, it's also about renewing the faith in our Camberley community and Bruce's pilgrimage to Holy Island will link communities up and down the country.â€
The sponsored walk will also raise funds for the Connect Christian Counselling Service which offers help and support to individuals, couples and families experiencing a range of problems and difficulties.
Bruce will use social media extensively to provide updates on his progress. He will share his thoughts, feelings and the people and places he connects with along the route, and a live map on will show Bruceâ€™s location as he walks.
He said: â€œUnlike the historic Camino to Santiago de Compostela, there is no established route or network of places to stay. I have therefore mapped a route in Googlemaps, and have contacted members of the Community of Aidan and Hilda along the way.
â€œWhere there have been gaps, I have looked up the local clergy in Crockfordâ€™s, and rung them to see if they would put me up. They have been surprised, courteous, and generous in offering hospitality.
â€œMy first day went very well - after a wonderful bring and share lunch I set off to Reading where I worhsipped at Greyfriars Church. That stretch was my practice walk and well known to me - the only problem now is that I will have to do this every day!"
One fixed point is calling in on the diocesan Clergy Triennial Conference, in Swanwick, Derbyshire, on 20 June, where at least Bruce will be guaranteed a rest and a bed.
Bruce will welcome prayers and do follow or sponsor him via the link, or receive updates on Twitter