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The Athelstan Pilgrim Way is a new 100-mile walking and cycling route, linking all 36 historic churches in North Wiltshire Deanery. The route has been developed by the North Wiltshire Mission Area, a Church of England initiative in the Diocese of Bristol. The route takes in some of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the historic churches range from Bremilham, the smallest church in England, to Malmesbury Abbey, a popular visitor attraction.

The route takes its name from the first King of a united England, Athelstan, a Christian ruler who chose Malmesbury as his capital and was buried in Malmesbury Abbey after his death in 939AD. The church communities in the area continue a long tradition of Christian worship, celebrating their heritage and rural roots. As Revd Oliver Ross, the lead incumbent at Malmesbury Abbey, observes: ‘For some people, our buildings are the Good News’.

Good Friday walk, from Holy Cross Sherston to St Mary & St Ethelbert Luckington, 2022

18th July 2024

Bremilham Chapel to Luckington Church

Approx. 12.5 miles in total, taking 7 hours, allowing for stops. We will call in at the churches in Foxley, Norton, Hullavington, Stanton St Quintin and Alderton (there are toilets in the churches at Hullavington and Stanton St Quintin).

Meet at 10am at Bremilham Church on Cowage Farm, reached via a track from Foxley Road (SN16 0JH, OS Grid Ref. ST904861, what3words:
Please bring a packed lunch and drinking water.

11th August 2024

Luckington Church to Bremilham Chapel

Approx. 7 miles in total, taking 4 hours, allowing for stops. We will call in at the churches in Sherston, Easton Grey and Foxley (there are toilets at

Meet at 2pm at Luckington Church (SN14 6PG, OS Grid Ref. ST837840,
what3words: packing.qualified.suspends).
Please bring drinking water.

The entire route is along footpaths, bridleways and minor roads, and mainly on level ground. However, there are stiles to negotiate and there is also the possibility of gates being locked and needing to be climbed over.

Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear and bring protection against the sun, bearing in mind that weather conditions can change very quickly. Field paths can be muddy depending on the weather, so walking boots are recommended.

Please do not bring dogs on these group walks, as there may be livestock in the fields.

These are not circular walks, so you will require transport back to the start point (if you are part of a group, consider leaving a car at the end point). Unfortunately, local bus services are very limited. For up-to-date information, please visit Connecting Wiltshire. There are several local taxi companies, whose contact details can be found online.

There is no charge for either of these walks. However, any donations received via our Support page will be used to continue the development of the Athelstan Pilgrim Way.

With thanks to Our Patron, Tom Holland, for his WONDERFUL TALK at our opening event

30th June, Malmesbury Abbey
Tom writes:

It will be no secret to anyone who has listened to my podcast, ‘The Rest Is History’, that I championed Athelstan as the greatest of England’s monarchs: a man who forged it as a united kingdom, mighty in battle, a scholar, a legislator, a man convinced that he had been divinely appointed to serve his people. As the Patron for the Athelstan Pilgrim Way, I’m also delighted to champion a walking route across his kingdom of Wessex that seeks to remind us of his Christian sensibility and the religious culture of his time.


Is it possible that we are often seduced by a heritage culture of celebrating our churches simply as interesting buildings? Perhaps we need to recognise a profound theme that percolated through the time of Athelstan and the places significant to him: that of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage, and with it an embodied prayer life – both of which we know Athelstan pursued – were an expression of that profoundly felt need for spiritual succour and direction. We’ve lost something of the language for it today, but I’m excited as Patron to support this modern day endeavour to rediscover the significance, resonance and timbre of pilgrimage. Across Wiltshire field and Fosse, may following in his footsteps become pilgrimage indeed. 

The Fosse Way
Available from 30th June

Pick up your free Pilgrim Passport

And collect stamps as you go!

The Pilgrim Passport can be stamped at each church as the routes are launched (2024-2025). From 30th June, the opening routes are the Malmesbury & Upper Avon circuit, and the Gauzebrook circuit to the west. There will be 6 circular routes overall, with linking sections between them.

Walks can be started at any point along the routes and their stages can be tackled in any combination. Our printed and downloadable guides include detailed itineraries, with timings, OS Grid references, section maps, and advice for level of fitness, parking and refreshments. All routes are on public rights of way or minor roads, and all churches are open during the day (unless stated otherwise).

Where to start

Looking for a walking or cycling route between churches? Visit our free downloads here.


Questions about access? Where to contact someone about church services? Where to stay?


Would you like to give financially to support the APW? We’re grateful for all donations, big or small.

The 6 Benefices in the North Wiltshire Deanery are: Malmesbury & Upper Avon, Gauzebrook, Braydon Brook, Woodbridge, Draycot, and Upper Thames. Find out more about the Deanery’s wider ministry on the North Wiltshire Mission Area website:

The North Wiltshire Mission Area is administered by Malmesbury Abbey, Charity Number 1146631
The Abbey Office, Holloway, Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 9BA

Website design by Sheona Beaumont, 2024;
Photographs by David & Anne Pope, Carole Britton, and Sheona Beaumont