The story of Holywell is so powerful that it’s the only place in Britain with an unbroken history of pilgrimage stretching back more than 13 centuries.
Seventh-century Saint Winefride was real enough. But whether she was beheaded by a spurned lover and brought back to life by her Uncle Beuno, a healing spring gushing from the spot where her head fell, is a matter of faith rather than historical record.
King Richard I certainly thought so. He came to the “Lourdes of Wales” in 1189 to pray for the success of his crusade. In 1416 Henry V went one better, walking all the way from Shrewsbury to give thanks for his victory at Agincourt.
You can trace their footsteps on the Holywell Heritage Trail, which also features the evocative remains of 18th century mills and foundries in Greenfield Valley. And you can bathe in Saint Winefride’s miraculous waters beneath a Late Perpendicular Gothic shrine building that’s unique in the world.
Start: St Winefride’s Well, Holywell CH8 7PN