The Bishop of Middlesbrough officially opens the new section of the Cleveland Way

The Bishop of Middlesbrough officially opens the new section of the Cleveland Way

Walkers on the Cleveland Way will be able to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims after the national trail was diverted to take in a historic chapel.

A new path has been constructed to pass the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Grace near Osmotherley in the North York Moors.

The path is also close to the route of the Coast to Coast Walk.

The Bishop of Middlesbrough, the Right Reverend Terence Drainey, officially opened the new section of the 109-mile-long trail which now passes the historic building, known as the Lady Chapel.

The shrine stands on the edge of the North York Moors national park, overlooking the village of Osmotherley. For more than 600 years it has been a place of Catholic worship and pilgrimage, but its secluded, hilltop location has kept the site hidden from many.

A spokesperson for the North York Moors National Park Authority said: “Now, thanks to an inspiring community effort, the Cleveland Way has been re-routed to pass an entrance to the Lady Chapel, meaning many more people will be able to appreciate its beauty and significance as they make their way along the national trail.

“Moreover, access to the chapel now also lies within 500m of the official coast-to-coast route, hopefully encouraging others to pay a visit to the holy site.”

The original Cleveland Way path will also remain open as a right of way, creating the opportunity for people to enjoy a new circular route from Osmotherley.

Bishop Drainey said: “Christians have visited the chapel of Our Lady, the Mother of Divine Grace, for hundreds of years. It is a holy place, sanctified by the prayers of many ordinary people. But as a result of this good and gracious work, it is now definitely on the map of the modern world.

“So many more people will be able to view its simple beauty, avail themselves, of its contemplative atmosphere and move forward not only on their particular scenic walk but also on the path of their life, aided by the spirit of the Lady Chapel.

“As the Bishop of the Diocese of Middlesbrough, I can say on behalf of us all, that we are very grateful for this initiative. It is as the result of a lot of hard work and skilful planning that this project has been brought to fruition.”

Malcolm Hodgson, trail manager for the Cleveland Way said: “I am extremely grateful to all of those who have helped in the accomplishment of what has been such an enjoyable and community-minded project.

“In particular I’d like to say thank you to the landowner, the Diocese of Middlesbrough, and our fantastic volunteers for all their hard work in establishing the new right of way.

“It has long been the desire of those involved with the Lady Chapel to increase knowledge of its presence, both locally and further afield. Altering the route of the Cleveland Way as we have not only gives people the opportunity to enjoy this special and historic place, but also adds new panoramic views to this stretch of the national trail.”

The Lady Chapel was built in the 15th century, most probably as a place for private worship for the Carthusian monks from nearby Mount Grace Priory. The chapel later fell into ruins, but continued to be a site of Catholic pilgrimage throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.

Restoration work began in 1959 using closely matching stone from Rosedale Abbey and building on existing foundations. The original stones, some incised with inscriptions, initials and prayers of pilgrims, are still easily discernible.

The diocese said the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Grace is open for private prayer and reflection all year round and holds regular masses and services.

The Cleveland Way, one of 15 UK national trails, runs for 175km from Helmsley Filey, via Saltburn-by-the-Sea. The route coincides with that of the Coast to Coast Walk on the section along the Cleveland escarpment.

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