This is a New Year with a difference. A New Year with the Celtic Saints. It’s an opportunity to explore their world, learn about their robust view of faith and life, and walk where they walked. It will be faith-building and fun. With some feasting thrown in.
It runs from 30th December, when you arrive, through two great days exploring the Celtic Christian world on 31st December and 1st January, to your departure time suitably invigorated after breakfast on 2nd January.
30th December 2021
We’ll gather on the afternoon of Thursday 30th December.
Naturally, this evening, as every evening at Grey Alders, we’ll share a meal together, with time for fellowship and prayer afterwards.
Friday 31st December 2021
On New Year’s Eve, after morning devotions and breakfast, we’ll walk together on the ancient footpath travelled by our local Celtic Saint Gwynio. It runs between his retreat at Cilsant, where we are certain pilgrims were welcomed back in the day, and the site of his community at Llanwinio.
It’s a walk of some seven miles. (Although this can be halved by clever use of cars!) We’ll walk in the actual steps of the man of God along lanes, woodland, valleys and up the hill to Llanwinio itself.
Gwynio himself regularly trod this way fifteen hundred years ago. As we walk, we’ll see the spot where he lost his life by neglecting the 6th century travellers’ rule – ‘always go together’. It is said a healing spring – living waters – sprang from the ground his severed head touched. No doubt pilgrims then came seeking healing, so a settlement was built to accommodate them. The holding endures to this day as Fynnon Felen – ‘Golden Spring.’
Saturday 1st January 2022
On New Year’s Day, after morning devotions and breakfast, we’ll take our pilgimage into Pembrokeshire. First we’ll visit St Govan’s Chapel which is approached down a flight of steps standing at the head of a sea inlet.
It is said Govan escaped from pirates in the sixth century when the rock opened up. He hid in the cleft and founded a church in thanks to the Almighty. The current structure dates from the middle ages.
After that, we’ll motor to St David’s, see the headland where the man of God was born and look around the cathedral close. We’ll see the stream the sixth-century evangelist stood in to pray. The cold mortified the soul. They were a tough bunch, these Celtic Christians! It is renowned that Dewi’s monastic order allowed fish once a week, no meat and only water to drink.
We may catch Evensong in the Cathedral – Cranmer’s combination of Vespers and Compline dates back 500 years to the time of the Tudors. The seven monastic services a day (Psalm 119:164) were themselves built around the devotions of the Apostles and were followed by the early church of which the Celtic branch was an integral part.
2nd January 2022
On Sunday we’ll once again serve breakfast before our pilgrims depart for home. You can of course take an option to stay another day
During your time with us we’ll also explore actual (as opposed to modern) Celtic spiritually, find out when the Christian faith really came to these Isles, take a look at the prophetic works of Gildas and ask just why the Celtic church objected to union with Rome.
Naturally we pray you’ll be blessed by your time walking in the footsteps of the 6th century men of God.
Clothing and Catering
Obviously, the event will only suit those able to walk. You’ll need boots and warm clothing. Bring something rain-proof. As the Swedes say, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
We’ll be in prayer for a dry spell, of course. But we always work with the weather the good Lord sends.
You will be well catered for, with Bed & Breakfast and three 2-course Evening Meals with drinks included and the occasional snack. (Refreshments purchased in St David’s are excluded.)
At least two of your evening meals will feature meat from our own super-aged beef or mutton from the Grey Alders farm (‘Wernlwyd’ in Welsh). (You can carry some away with you if you wish.)
You’ll enjoy three cooked breakfasts with eggs from our hens if they are laying and home-baked organic bread. No one goes hungry at Grey Alders events.