The world shall come to Walsingham

239 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type


Date of travel

February, 2023

Product name

Walsingham Abbey

Product country

United Kingdom

Product city

Kings Lynn

Travelled with

Reasons for trip


When Robert Lowell wrote his poem “Our Lady of Walsingham” he used the verb form “shall” to indicate the near-imperative of pilgrimage, much as does the spiritual “We shall overcome”. Lyndon Johnson even stressed the word in his Lincoln memorial speech.

At Easter Walsingham will certainly be a place of pilgrimage for both Anglicand and Roman Catholics. The village is ready for Christian visitors all year round with its shrine shop. On a cloudy cold Friday in February it took a different kind of dedication to follow the snowdrop trail around the Abbey grounds. The staff were expecting much larger crowds during half-term week, and no wonder.

Just inside the entrance the object of our secular pilgrimage was already visible. Snow drifts would have been appropriate to the season and the snowdrops looked the part, covering every open space in sight. Close to the entrance is a garden area with species snowdrops accompanied by winter aconites and hellebores. Each bed has a log surround just high enough to mark the space with each log of a size to fit inside a stove. Beyond is a small sales table: purchasers are saved the trouble carrying their snowdrop around the walk because the exit is nearby. So (mundanely but important in cold weather) are the toilets.

The walk passes the abbey ruin: one tall arch, perhaps the crossing point of nave and chancel. Nearby are signs of an archaeological excavation the identified the Anglo-Saxon monastery of 1061, attesting to the sacredness of the site for over a millennium. In all that time the snowdrops have been a sign of coming spring for monks in the winter chill. What could be more uplifting from a minute plant that has to be knelt beside for a clear view?

A packhorse bridge crosses a small stream beyond the ruin and wooded meadows spread far and wide. The path passes under the gatehouse with steeper slopes beyond. All are a carpet of white.

A choice of paths continues; there is even a route beside the stream. The walk is a favourite of dog owners: we were almost the only ones without a canine friend. Everybody had been cheered by the snowdrops, as I’m sure the monks had been and are, for those still in residence. Greetings were very much the norm.

We spent almost an hour and only noticed how cold it was on returning to the sales table. One Walsingham species snowdrop is a small but treasured prize. The sales desk is in the small museum. Although we had no time to spend there it does look interesting.

The snowdrop walk is open to visitors until 5th March and cost £6 per adult (no concessions). It is a price well worth paying.


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