Sunday, 16 November 2014

St Winifred's Well

What a place of blessing this truly was!

This is what I wrote in the log book before we left:

'On our Wedding Day, 2nd August 2014, my husband noted that the one thing we had always done together was walk. One thing that we had both done, but separately, was make pilgrimage. Our stay at St. Winifred's marked the beginning of our pilgrimage together. You could not ask for a more beautiful and moving place in which to have the honeymoon of your dreams.  What a start to married life! There is little I could recommend this place that is not self evident from the moment you arrive. This holy well is bustling with life and it restores and refreshes anyone who comes and stays - the log books stand testament to that. Robin, Wren, Sparrow, Mouse and Frog all bid us welcome during our stay. Mr and Mrs Blackbird darted around merrily; and Mr and Mrs Songthrush dedicated themselves to the daily execution of snails - their demise heralded by the regular 'tap tap' of mollusc shells on the walls surrounding the cottage. 
When we felt the need to venture out, a hike up Rodney's Pillar provided excellent exercise astounding views, whilst a day in Shrewsbury illustrated the profound religious history behind St. Winifred, the beautiful Welsh Saint. It is a truly moving experience to see what remains of the Great Abbey in which St. Winifred found her final resting place. A day at home at the well provides the time needed to truly appreciate so special a home - there are deck chairs in the store cupboard and sitting out with tea and one of the many excellent books provided shows this silent retreat at its best. Both Graham and I paddled in the holy water and explored the spring and stream each day. This afternoon we might head to The Navigation Inn - until just soaking up the special atmosphere of a small chapel cottage in the woods is contentment enough. I am sure we will both be sad to leave behind St. Winifred on Monday - but she has lent us an amazing spell of happiness with which to begin our journey together, and so we must thank her and promise to return in years to come. 
4th - 11th August 2014.'

I cannot come close to explaining the peace and beauty of that special retreat in the woods. Each day we were happy to be there, and enjoyed exploring, sitting quietly, reading, talking, listening, watching and walking. We feasted and drank cool wine in the sunshine. I loved it every day.

Of course, part of what made it special was the fact that we were there together to share the joy of it. We prepared our meals together - roast chicken, an amazing bolognese, a mild curry, fresh burgers with sweetcorn, salads and cheese. If we were not chatting quietly we listened the birds chirruping and the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. We sat in front of the crackling open fire, each engrossed in a book, Cadfael for me, The Morville Hours for him, sometimes stopping to read particularly gripping passages to each other. There was not a care in the world. The absence of television, radio, internet wifi and mobile phone signal was as much a welcome blessing as the sounds of the creatures stirring in the undergrowth.

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