As is now traditional for May, the Walking Group met on the first Saturday to ‘beat the bounds’, i.e. walking the full boundary of both Parishes and reflecting at various points on the route. We were also pleased to be joined by Heidi, Lisa and Natasha, who were in training for a 26-miler later in the year.
This year we took the opportunity to pause for silent prayer and reflection at particular areas and sites of significance. We met at Christ Church Walmersley at 9.00am before walking down the road to St John with St Mark. At each of the two churches we prayed silently for two Parishes, the people and the activities that take place there.
Stop to pray
Wandering down to the Burrs we paused at the cafe to think about the different places of leisure in the Benefice and after walking along Woodhill Road we then crossed the bridge at the Irwell to the site of the fire station. This seemed a significant spot to pray for the emergency workers that serve our town. Our next stop was the Tesco car park and here we stopped at the Brunswick War memorial to think about all those in the Benefice who had lost their lives or been injured in war and conflict. Pausing at the site of the old St John’s Church on The Rock, now the shopping centre, this seemed an ideal opportunity to remember those in the retail industry whose jobs are currently at risk.
Continuing to the top of Chesham Road our boundary walk took us through Bluebell Woods though we deviated away from the line slightly across the golf course onto the start of Scotland Road. This then led us down to Buckhurst School, where we would normally have stopped for lunch. However, as the wind was quite strong here, it seemed better to delay this so we continued across the farmland and meadows. Here we stopped to think about the farming communities and workers that serve the Benefice.
We arrived at the end of the road past the Lord Raglan where we had our lunch stop. However, a combination of a delayed lunch, quick pace and an off-track route meant we had reached this point an hour earlier than planned.
We then again diverted from the boundary slightly as we walked through the hidden gem which is Mount Pleasant and onto the main road. Here we crossed over to Bass Lane to dodge the traffic as we descended to Waterside Bridge and Summerseat, past the garden centre. This then led us onto the start of our final leg back through The Burrs and the waterfall, before we arrived at the Brown Cow for congratulations and refreshment after the 12 or so miles. Completing this walk always makes you aware of how much goes on in the two Parishes.
Beating the bounds
Back in the day, the church faithful prepared for Ascension day with days of fasting and abstinence. During this time, farmers often had their crops blessed by a priest.
Part of the preparation was a ‘rogation’ walk or ‘beating the bounds’, in which a procession of parishioners, led by the minister, churchwardens and the choir, would walk around the boundary of their parish and pray for its protection in the forthcoming year.
This Benefice boundary walk is our modern day equivalent! With Easter being late this year our walk wasn’t particularly near to Ascension day – but we’re sure God wouldn’t mind too much.
Our Walking Group meets once a month, normally on the first Saturday. Walks are usually 10 – 12 miles leaving from either St John’s Hall, Bury or Christ Church Walmersley. Please get in touch via the Contact page if you’d like more details. For last year’s boundary walk please follow this link.