Set out on an extraordinary medieval pilgrimage from a Harborough district village to honour a Leicestershire saint

A guide group will officially open the trail and set off from Wistow on Wednesday June 1 on a four-mile countryside trek to Wigston

By Red Williams
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 3:24 pm
A guide group will officially open the trail and set off from Wistow on Wednesday June 1 on a four-mile countryside trek to Wigston. Walkers will follow the historic route of the martyred Prince Wistan – and which is named after him.

Do you fancy setting out on an extraordinary medieval pilgrimage starting in a picturesque Harborough district village to honour a Leicestershire saint?

A guide group will officially open the trail and set off from Wistow on Wednesday June 1 on a four-mile countryside trek to Wigston.

Walkers will follow the historic route of the martyred Prince Wistan – and which is named after him.

It’s classed as ‘easy to medium’ so families looking for something to do outdoors can just turn up and do the walk at any time.

You will find a map and way-finder posts along the journey too.

Harborough District Council and Oadby and Wigston Borough Council are teaming up with local churches to organise the event.

Cllr Phil King, who leads Harborough council, said: “What ever your beliefs, all are welcome to join this free half-day local walk across beautiful, rural countryside from Wistow, with a rewarding sense of achievement at its end in Wigston.”

Cllr John Boyce, the leader of Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, said: “This is a great opportunity to get out and explore the local area, reaping the health benefits of a four-mile stroll while also learning the history of the pilgrimage.

“It’s free to take part and promises to be a hugely enjoyable community day so please spread the word and get involved.”

The Rev Matthew Gough said: “St Wistan’s Pilgrimage is a medieval route which we relaunched in 2018 on his day of commemoration, 1 June.

“Due to lockdown, this will be the first time that we can walk again in larger numbers.

“The popularity of pilgrimage has taken off as it provides a sense of connectedness to the environment, history, community, and spirituality.

“Prince Wistan of Mercia is a fascinating Leicestershire Saint martyred for his religious convictions and royal connection.

“Whether you like walks in beautiful South Leicestershire countryside, Anglo Saxon history or a space to pause with intention, you are welcome to either join the led pilgrimage, or follow the waymarkers throughout the day.”

A pilgrimage is a journey on foot to visit a place considered special or where a pivotal event in history took place, often with spiritual meaning or connection.

Legend recounts human hairs growing through the grass and beams of light seen on June 1 when Prince Wistan, who was set to become King, was murdered in 849 by his jealous cousin.

The walk follows and respects the ancient route the body of the martyr was taken.

The Harborough village of Wistow takes its name from the shortened Wistanstowe, meaning holy place of Wistan.

The village features St Wistan’s Church, built on the site where the Prince was murdered.

At 9.15am on Wednesday June 1, Cllr Stephen Bilbie, the chairman of Harborough council, will welcome walkers and start the walk.

You will finish at the civic monument on Bell Street, Wigston.

You can find out more about this route and other local walks by visiting these websites: