700th Anniversary walk from Exeter to Exeter
17th July 2013
Frances Cairncross, the Rector (ie, head) of Exeter College, University of Oxford, is launching the College's 700th anniversary celebrations by walking in the footsteps of its original students from Devon to Oxford. Her walk will start from the West End of Exeter Cathedral at 9.30 am on Thursday 25 July.
Exeter College was founded in 1314 by Walter de Stapeldon, Bishop of Exeter, and its early students came mainly from Devon and Cornwall. The Rector will be accompanied to the city limits of Exeter by the Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Rev'd Dr Jonathan Draper. As Bishop of Exeter, Walter de Stapeldon contributed liberally to rebuilding the Cathedral, and his tomb is on the north side of the high altar.
This 160-mile walk will broadly follow the track of the very first Exeter students of the 14th century, many of whom would have made the journey on foot. The walk will underline Exeter's continuing links to the West Country, with significant outreach and access work being undertaken with schools in Devon and Cornwall. It will also symbolise the passion for education that persuaded students for many centuries to make this arduous journey to Exeter College.
As Rector of the College, Frances Cairncross hopes to encourage students, alumni, Fellows, staff and friends of the College to join her on this walk. She also hopes to raise funds for an internship bursary, in memory of Richard Sandbrook, a distinguished British environmentalist, to support students wishing to work with an environmental charity in their vacation.
The route goes through Honiton, Axminster, Beaminster, Sherbourne, Wincanton, Rode, Devizes, Avebury and Abingdon. It will take in Roman roads, the Jubiliee Trail, Monarch's Way, Wessex Ridgeway, MacMillan Way, the Kennett and Avon Canal, the Ridgeway, and the Thames Path. The Rector plans to arrive in Oxford by 11 August.
Ahead of the walk Frances Cairncross said: "As generations of Exonians have known through the ages, a good education is worth the walk from Exeter to Oxford. This seems the perfect way to mark the start of Exeter College's 700th anniversary."
The Very Rev'd Dr Jonathan Draper said: "Exeter Cathedral is delighted to be able to send the Rector of Exeter College, Oxford off on her walk from Exeter to Oxford to raise funds for the Richard Sandbrook Scholarship, and to start the College's 700th anniversary celebrations. As a former Catechist of Exeter College in the 1980s, I'm pleased to be able not only to bless Frances Cairncross as she begins her trek, but to join her for a few miles on her way out of the City."