Inside Travel: Where do religious leaders go to re-charge their spiritual batteries?

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The Independent Travel

George Stack, Bishop, Westminster Cathedral

"My favourite place of pilgrimage, reflection and peace is called Gougane Barra in the south-west corner of County Cork in Ireland. Before moving to the marshes of what is now called Cork City, St Finbarr had a hermitage on this remote island in the middle of the lake. The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway and contains a 19th-century chapel surrounded by an ancient monastery. The River Lee rises at the lake and the sight of jumping trout is a joy to behold. In this place, earth is really joined to heaven. A place where God truly dwells."

Ryanair (08701 569 569, www.ryanair.com), British Airways (0845 77 333 777, www.britishairways.com) and Aer Lingus (08459 737 747 aerlingus.ie). Irish Tourist Board, 150 New Bond St, London W1S 0AQ (020 7493 3201; www.ireland.travel.ie)

Dr M A Zaki Badawi, Principal, The Muslim College, west London

"I have always found spiritual fulfilment in Medina, in Saudi Arabia, the city of the Prophet Mohammad. In the great mosque, where his mausoleum is located, one experiences an inner equilibrium and freedom from everyday tensions. The hustle and bustle of the crowd enhances rather than reduces this sense of tranquility."

Saudi Arabian Airlines (0845 60727 727, www.saudi airlines.com) and British Airways (0845 77 333 777, www.britishairways.com) fly from London Heathrow to Jeddah, from where there are frequent connecting flights to Medina

Rabbi Plancey, Rabbi of Borehamwood (member of the Chief Rabbi's cabinet)

"Israel is the main place for me. I feel when I go there, I'm returning to my spiritual home. I try to go at least twice a year, even if it's only for a couple of days. I call it my spiritual injection. Just being in Jerusalem itself gives me the feeling of being completely wrapped in spirituality. Even though there are so many problems there, every time I come back exhilarated and wanting to go back again."

Israel Tourist Office: 020-7299 1111, www.infotour.co.il. El Al (020-7957 4100, www.elal.co.il) flies from Heathrow and Manchester to Tel Aviv; BA (0845 77 333 777, www.british- airways.com) flies from Heathrow; and there are charters from Gatwick

Sergei Hackel, Archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church

"The place which I have in past and recent times found most moving and fulfilling is the shrine of my patron saint at a monastery in what used to be known as Zagorsk and is now called Sergiev Posav about 70km outside Moscow. People come from all over Russia to worship there and sing their traditional hymns. To share in that worship brought tears to my eyes. The relics have been displayed there since the 15th century. The simplicity of the place and the devotion of the people moves me to deep devotion."

Aeroflot Russian International Airlines (020-7355 2233, www.aeroflot. co.uk) and British Airways (0845 77 333 777, www.britishairways.com) fly daily between London and Moscow. There are frequent trains between Moscow and Zagorsk

Reverend Katharine Rumens, Rector of St Giles, Cripplegate, London

"I like to walk on Southend Pier with a friend. We tend to do it when the weather is foul. We always have beer and fish and chips at the end of the pier. I like to call it marine theology."

Southend tourist information: 01702 215120. A day return from London to Southend costs £8.90. Beer and fish and chips are available at the end of the pier, or at Fisherman's Wharf on the seafront

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