Paralympic superstar Will Bayley is back on our TV screens this spring as he joins six other celebrities for the BBC Two show Pilgrimage.
The series follows personalities of differing faiths and beliefs on a journey of religious and spiritual awakening across land and sea, from Ireland to Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The Pilgrimage: The Road to the Scottish Isles also features interior designer and TV personality Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, who describes himself as a non-conforming pagan; England cricket legend Monty Panesar – a practising Sikh; actress Louisa Clein, who is Jewish; TV personality Nick Hewer – an agnostic with Catholic roots; TV presenter, podcast host and social media influencer Scarlett Moffatt – a Christian; and comedian Shazia Mirza – a Muslim.
Over 15 days, the seven pilgrims will follow in the footsteps of the sixth century Irish monk, Saint Columba, seeking out his legacy as a key figure in early British Christianity who helped spread the faith from Ireland to Scotland and beyond.
Following ancient pilgrimages and heritage walking trails, the celebrity pilgrims begin their journey in the town of Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, then travel through Northern Ireland and over the sea to western Scotland.
From there, they head up towards the Highlands before exploring the Hebridean Isle of Lewis and Harris. They go to Stornaway and then to the Calanais Stones before arriving at their final destination, Iona, a tiny island in the Inner Hebrides and the site of Saint Columba’s most revered monastery.
Covering more than 1600km, they visit places of worship, from pagan stones to an early Christian cave and a contemporary mosque and Sikh temple. This journey will test the pilgrims not just spiritually but physically too.
Will, the Rio 2016 Paralympic champion and a silver medallist in Tokyo last year, said: “I wouldn’t say I’m a Christian but I’d say that I believe. I do think there’s a God . . . I hope there’s a God. Faith has always been there, those feelings that someone’s looking after me.
“When I was in hospital there were always prayers for me, people coming in and actually praying for me. This pilgrimage will push me absolutely to my limits.”
The three hour-long episodes will air on dates to be announced.