THE Bishop of Chelmsford returned to his roots for the first of ten walks across his diocese.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell, who grew up in Southend, went back to that town for the first of ten, ten-mile walks where people could join him for a chat in an informal, relaxed environment.

The day began at St Aidan’s Parish Church, Leigh, with a service and breakfast, before the party set off to St Margaret’s Church, in Leigh, for a service by Father Ian Booth.

Mr Cottrell said: “The walks might not be the most original idea in the world, but I thought they might just be a bit different and it’s nice to get out and about and see people.”

After the service, a group of about 20 walkers set off from St Margaret’s towards the seafront and along to Southend. They stopped for lunch at the Naval and Military Club where Mr Cottrell and his walkers shared a drink with veterans.

The afternoon was at St Peter and St Paul Church, Hockley, for a Quiz the Bishop session.

Mr Cottrell said: “I sense there is a much greater interest with God than 20 years ago so hopefully these walks will help.”

The bishop’s walks, which are being dubbed “missionary journeys”, are taking place between May and October this year and are part of celebrations to mark 100 years of the diocese.

Thursday, May 22: Through Maldon, Witham and Tiptree
Friday, June 20: Through Barking, Dagenham and Hornchurch
Sunday July 6: Colchester, Elmstead and Great Bentley
Friday, July 18: Saffron Walden and Finchingfield
Friday, Sept 5: Harlow, Nazeing and Epping
Sunday, Sept 21: Basildon, Billericay and Brentwood
Tuesday, Sept 30: Woolwich, West Ham and Stratford
Tuesday, Oct 7: Broomfield and Margaretting