THIS weekend’s Songs of Praise episode will feature a pilgrimage to Durham Cathedral.
Canon Kate Bottley, presenter of the religious series who also appeared in Gogglebox, joined pilgrims on the final day of their walk along the Way of Learning – one of the new Northern Saints Trails that celebrate the lives of local saints such as Cuthbert, Hilda and Bede.
The Bishop of Durham Paul Butler, his wife, Rosemary, and Northern Saints Trail Coordinator David Pott, completed four of the Ways between Palm Sunday and Pentecost Sunday. The Bishop of Jarrow Sarah Clark completed three.
Mr Pott first contacted the Songs of Praise team when the inaugural pilgrimages along the routes were being planned back in 2019.
Filming was meant to go ahead in 2020 but had to be postponed due to Covid-19.
Then, on a wet and windy day in early May, the producers came to County Durham to plan an episode.
Mr Pott said: “There had been many occasions when they had been for a recce on a wonderful sunny day and the day for filming was poor, so of course we were very much hoping and praying for a reversal for this episode.”
They decided to film at Railway Wood and the Lumley Park Burn near Fencehouses, Riverside Park and the REfUSE Café in Chester-le-Street, the viewpoint at Great Lumley, Finchale Abbey and Durham Cathedral.
Mr Pott added: “The Songs of Praise team came up to film some interviews on May 17th and then did the filming of the pilgrimage itself on May 18th. It turned out to be a perfect day for filming – in fact it was the only fully sunny day that we experienced on all the other inaugural pilgrimages in that wet month of May.
“There were many special filming moments, but perhaps the best one was when we pilgrims were welcomed by pupils from Cestria Primary School in Chester-le-Street singing a song called Land of the Northern Saints which had only been composed a few days before by singer songwriter Sam Slatcher.”
Despite a tight filming schedule, Rev Bottley spent lots of time chatting to people including many dog walkers who recognised her as they passed.
Writer and broadcaster Sheridan Voysey also did part of the Way of Learning.
Bishop Paul said he was delighted to be joined by such a big group of Pilgrims, including Sheridan and Kate, for the “fantastic journey”.
He added: “Sheridan and Kate both commented on the welcome they received and that is what I have always found on these Pilgrimages and also on my Prayer walks during the time I have been Bishop of Durham.”
Songs of Praise featuring the pilgrimage airs on BBC2 this Sunday, June 13, at 1.15pm.