Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Gothic Enlightenment by Annika Perry

Welcome to the second post from the archives of Annika Perry who shares an atmospheric visit to Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire.

The purpose of this series is to encourage you to head over and follow Annika’s blog and check out her more recent posts.. I hope you will do so.

Gothic Enlightenment by Annika Perry

Self-consciously I traced my way around the grassy labyrinth. Glancing up I caught the eye of a fellow pilgrim and sheepishly we exchanged wry smiles as I wondered, “Does he think I look ridiculous? Do I?”. The answer was an emphatic no, as I took a deep breath and continued on my way.

Arriving earlier at Whitby Abbey the cement bunker where we bought our tickets had been gloomy and disappointing, however on walking around the corner and up we were transported in time as chanting Benedict monks beckoned us forward across the sunny plain. Clad in long sweeping brown or white habits, heads adorned with flat round hat, their presence brought alive the ethereal spirituality of centuries ago as with heavenly voice their hymns awed the visitors into silence.

Quietly a monk explained the concept of the Path to Paradise, a circular interloping path cut from the grass, a time for inner reflection and meditation. There was only one way round, leading to the centre and here upon the granite altar we were requested to place a blessed stone from his basket and with it make a wish or prayer.

Soon thoughts drift from myself to the abbey, looming ahead, bathed in sunlight, the gothic ruins vibrating with life. Time slows, my son runs on ahead, diligently following the path and I enter a new dimension of total serenity and I immersed myself in contemplation. Here views of the long harbour wall, tiny dots of people meandering along, their children scampering between the fallen pillars of the abbey, some clambering on them.


Shattered as a clear voice breaks through and a monk recites a story; there he is, sitting in the middle of the circle, surrounded by fellow pilgrims. Just then my son places his stone upon the granite rock and without a pause dashes away to find his friends.

The End

With only a week until our holiday in North Yorkshire I recalled this piece I wrote as my first assignment for a creative writing course. Gothic Enlightenment describes our fortuitous visit to Whitby Abbey during their Path to Paradise celebrations.

A good part of the business of fiction is performed half-consciously, even sub-consciously. So I’ll do a little scene and then another little scene and try not to think of the extent of the task ahead.” Hilary Mantel

©Images Annika Perry. 2015

Thanks to Annika for sharing this post about the Path to Paradise which seems to have acheived its aim of bringing stillness into that moment in time.

About Annika Perry

Although writing has always been a lifetime passion for Annika, her route to full-time writing has been circuitous and she formerly worked within journalism and the timber trade before severe illness and motherhood gave her an opportunity to pursue her dream.

Annika’s First Prize win in the ‘Writing Magazine’ short story competition was the much needed impetus and confidence booster for her to complete the first novel, ‘Island Girl’, which is currently in the final editing stages. Annika is also working on the last edits of her first short story collection which she hopes to publish this year.

As well as writing, Annika is an avid reader (a world without books is unimaginable for her), a keen gardener, walker and she enjoys travel (in spite of her well-documented fear of flying!)

For the past two years blogging has become an important part of her life and she deeply values the friendships formed here on WP via the warm encouraging and uplifting comments. She lives in the South East of England with her husband and teenage son.

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I am now looking for archive posts for the festive season.. short stories fiction and non-fiction, food and recipes, humour, memorable Christmas’s etc.  Please send one or two posts to I will be resuming the regular archive series in the New Year.  Thanks Sally.