The fourth wedge of LCI’s Pilgrimage round the Leeds Country Way walked from Barwick to Swillington, around the west side of the city boundary.

We have walked almost half way round the city in four months! I am beginning to get a greater feel of pilgrimage, as it becomes a monthly habit, and we examine the city visually from ever new angles.

This was the shortest day of the year, and as we hit the moment of Solstice, 10.44 on 21st December, we paused at the edge of a field to look out over the landscape and after a two minute silence, reflected on this significant turning point. From now on days lengthen, light returns. Periods of time in the dark for thought and hibernation are often part of our cycle of growth and change.

From the maypole at Barwick in the ancient kingdom of Elmet, past the one time tank factory at Barnbow, through farms with names such is Shippen and Honesty, to a very tasty social enterprise cafe in Garforth, there were plenty of hints of our history in the many names we saw on the way:

Bog Lane, Church Lane, Goody Cross Lane, Mount Pleasant, Linesway, Coach Road, Nannygoat Lane, and who or what was Opes Toga? The newish M1 extension had slashed through this part of the city’s surrounding countryside, and we pondered the effect of HS2 rail link if this were to carve out yet another section of our city. Is our need for ever faster transport really worth such destruction of lives and landscape?

For myself, addicted to the motor car and individualistic transport over much of my life, i am enjoying our bus journeys on these walks, learning the ease with which we can find new routes and experiences. On one of our highest points, near the M1, we could look back across a huge northeastern swathe of the city. It wasn’t clear enough to see our starting point, though this may have been possible on a better day. I wondered how it would be to repeat the process after a year, starting at a different point, to see each section in a different season. Perhaps the Leeds Country Way will become quite a habit!

If you would like to join us, on monthly Wednesdays, OR would like to host us, if your church is near the route of the south and western parts of the Leeds Country Way, do please get in touch with LCI.

Our pilgrimage continues on Wednesday 25 January. To join the pilgrimage or for more information, email us at events@leedschurchinstitute.org