The Abbots Way walk 2018

2018 marks 1000 years since the original foundation of Buckfast Abbey. Events have been held throughout the year to mark this historic milestone. Each year in October teams of walkers take part in a walk from Tavistock to Buckfast along the ancient route that joined the two abbeys. This year it was decided to reverse the route so that the walk started at Tavistock and ended at Buckfast.

Abbey Warden Geoff Pring felt that it would be fitting to welcome the walkers to Buckfast with the Abbey bells ringing. As there were around 50 walkers covering 23 miles it was inevitable that their arrival at Buckfast would be staggered (pardon the pun!!). The obvious solution would be a full peal, so Peter Bill set about inviting a band, mostly from those ringers who regularly support the festival ringing at the Abbey. In the event, Peter was still out of action following his fall, so unable to take part.

Yorkshire Surprise Royal was the chosen method and David Maynard from Exeter agreed to take on the mammoth task of steering the tenor which weighs 41cwts. Dutifully the ringers all arrived in good time to get the bells up and were delighted that Peter was able to drive himself over to meet the band prior to the start. Once the bells were up and ropes adjusted we were off with Ian Smith in charge of the conducting. These bells are not easy and during the first course (360 changes) it was obvious that we were getting used to the bells. After that the ringing speeded up somewhat and settled down to some good striking. David, on the tenor was obviously up for the job and ready for a long haul. The halfway point had some of the best ringing. Inevitably, signs of tiredness were creeping in towards the end but words of encouragement from Ian kept us all to the task and "that's all" was called after three hours and 41 minutes. The bells were soon lowered and we joined the last few teams of walkers as they enjoyed welcome refreshment at the end of their marathon walk.

Elaine from Teignmouth and Geoff and Oliver from Highweek / Buckfast told us how pleased they were to hear the bells and how they had explained to non-ringers what was going on up aloft. We understand that the Abbot of Buckfast was among those listening to the bells as they greeted the walkers.