Modern pilgrims invited to walk with Wesley in Wales

By staff writers
July 23, 2008

Modern-day pilgrims are being invited to celebrate the founder of Methodism by walking John Wesley's Way from Welshpool to Llanidloes, participating in street theatre and raising money for good causes.

Organised by the Welshpool and Bro Hafren Methodist Church circuit, the 2008 Wesley's Walk will take place on Saturday and Sunday 9-10 August. These are the exact dates on which Methodism's founder made the same journey in 1769 on his way to South Wales for a two-week preaching tour.

Back in 1769, in Welshpool, the bailiff turned Wesley away from the town hall even though he had prior permission to preach there.

Fifteen miles on in Newtown, Wesley again attempted to speak but was drowned out by "a poor wretch ... cursing and blaspheming and striking all that stood in his way". The next morning in Llanidloes, another 15 miles south, Wesley received a warmer welcome when he preached by the market hall, which still stands, in the centre of town.

On the 2008 Wesley Walk, all these events will be recreated. Mark Topping, on Lady, a black and white Welsh cob horse, will be John Wesley. Welshpool's 21st-century 'bailiff' will again reject his famous visitor.

However, walkers and other spectators will have to wait and see whether any drunk disturbs Wesley in Newtown. Llanidloes, where today's Wesley will stand on the same stone to preach as did his predecessor, plans to give as warm a welcome to its visitor as it did over 200 years ago

During two days, the Wesley's Way walk will cover 30 miles, and visitors are welcome to join for all or some of this distance during which expert commentary will be provided. Others may wish to make their own way to the various towns to see the Wesley street theatre, and join events in the local Methodist churches.

If walkers wish to get sponsors, proceeds will be split equally between NCH the children's charity, the Wales Air Ambulance, and the local mid-Wales Dial-a-Ride charity, which will provide transport for walkers during the weekend.

The mid-Wales countryside is said to be among the most beautiful in the British Isles, and it is where Wesley made regular travels on horseback through the area in the 18th century as part of his exhausting missions which excited a powerful response from working people.

Details of how to walk Wesley's Way in mid-Wales can be found at:

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