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Archive for the ‘Castles of UK and Ireland’ Category

Last month a few of us converged on Dublin, Ireland for my sister’s 50th birthday. She and her hubby flew over from South Africa and my daughter, son-in-law, grandson and I flew over from the UK.

Ireland selfie 😊😊

I love Ireland and enjoy visiting as often as possible…this was my 9th visit.

We had supper the first night at Eddie Rockets; the same place where I made the momentous decision to NOT return to South Africa, but to stay in Ireland for another 2 months till my visa expired, then fly across to the UK to obtain the necessary information to apply for my ancestral visa. (And here I am, 20 years later – my 20 year anniversary coincided with my sister’s birthday, so a meal at Eddie Rockets was a must!)

The food as always, was delicious 😋

We had a few days of exploring and reminiscing and visited a couple of lovely places; Glendalough being one

Lower Lake, Glendalough
In the distance you can see the Round Tower in the Monastic City complex.

The lakes, formed by glaciers, in the Glendalough Valley are located in the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Besides the lakes and wonderful walks, including The Wicklow Way, there’s the world famous Monastic Site with Round Tower and chapel where St Kevin reputedly spent some time.

Glendalough is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the “Monastic City”. Most of the buildings that survive today date from the 10th through 12th centuries. Despite attacks by Vikings over the years, Glendalough thrived as one of Ireland’s great ecclesiastical foundations and schools of learning until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214 A.D. and the dioceses of Glendalough and Dublin were united. For more information here’s the link https://visitwicklow.ie/listing/glendalough-monastic-city/

A screen shot of the complex off Google maps
Round Tower
Glendalough Cathedral
St Kevin’s Church

Being back at Glendalogh has inspired me to walk around the lakes, and then head over to walk the Ring of Kerry. I’ve already walked the virtual route via the Conqueror challenges and now I’d love to walk it in real time.

On our way back to Dublin we drove over to the east Coast and stopped off at Bray for a stroll along the Promenade and beach, then dinner.

Love a long promenade
Family time on the beach at Bray

We visited St Stephen’s Green where my grandson did a fairly good imitation of a sculpture 😁😁 Just in the opposite direction!

We visited Christ Church Cathedral where my grandson wanted to try out all the chairs, and he and I stood on medieval tiles

Still tiny little feet 🥰💙

Christ Church Cathedral, originally a Viking Church, is almost 1,000 years old. It was founded circa 1028, is Dublin’s oldest working structure, and is the spiritual heart of Dublin. It is also one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions and a place of pilgrimage through the centuries.

Then Marsh’s Library where they had a fantastic exhibition about elephants

Such an interesting history

Marsh’s Library was founded in the early 18th century by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh (1638-1713). Designed by Sir William Robinson (d. 1712) the Surveyor General of Ireland, it is one of the very few 18th century buildings left in Dublin that is still being used for its original purpose.

On my sister’s birthday we enjoyed a walk along the Grand Canal near Phoenix Park while visiting with their friends.

As with UK canals, you can see some beautiful canalboats either moored or in transit.

It’s a lovely way to travel and I invariably have canalboat lifestyle envy…

The Grand Canal stretches for 131km, with 43 locks, five of which are double locks, from Dublin to the River Shannon in County Offaly…would definitely be worth a walk. The Grand Canal (Irish: An Chanáil Mhór) is the southernmost of a pair of canals that connect Dublin, in the east of Ireland, with the River Shannon in the west, via Tullamore and a number of other villages and towns, the two canals nearly encircling Dublin’s inner city. Its sister canal on the Northside of Dublin is the Royal Canal. The last working cargo barge passed through the Grand Canal in 1960. Ref Wikipedia

Loved this sculpture
One of the many bridges along the canal

We also visited Howth, and a brief visit to the castle ruins, then a walk along the coast. A stunning day, the route took us through magical forests and up some precipitous paths, the sun added a welcome warmth.

Remnants of Howth Castle

Since 1180 the St Lawrence family were the feudal lords of Howth. The original family castle, a timber structure, was sited on the edge of Howth village, on Tower Hill, overlooking Balscadden Bay. In some form, Howth Castle has stood on its present site for over 750 years. The great English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1911 restyled a 14th-century castle built here, overlooking Ireland’s Eye and the north Dublin coastline.

The estate previously included much of coastal northern Dublin, including the lands of Kilbarrack, Raheny and parts of Clontarf, but these were gradually sold off from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. Ref Wikipedia

A magical walk through a forest
We’re going this way…or is it that way?
Oh how I love steps 🚶‍♀️ 😁

In all a wonderful visit and much swapping of stories. Its quite hard being so far away from the people you love and life invariably gets in the way of communication.

And then it was the final day and a last walk around Dublin

My little sister…50! Wow 💖💖 – I used to change her nappies ☺☺
Happy Birthday 🎂 🥳 🎉

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Yes, unbelievably it’s Day 17 of my walking adventure and Day 8 of my jaunt along Hadrian’s Wall, so I thought I’d pop in and give a quick update.

I had hoped to update you on a daily basis as mentioned before, but oh my gosh, the most I could manage was to eat (not even every night), shower, repack Pepe, and then bed. And repeat.

As per the title, I’m now starting Day 17 of my adventure, and Day 8 of my walk across country from North Shields; Segedunum Fort to Bowness-On-Solway, along Hadrian’s Wall. What an experience it has been. I’ve taken hundreds of photos and will share some of them in due course when I get the time, and energy to write ✍ 😁😁….so….here I am

Relaxing in bed in Brampton, watching a stunning sunrise and thinking back over the last 16 days.. it’s been a truly epic journey.

When I first planned on adding the Northumberland Coast Path to my Hadrian’s Wall adventure, I never for one minute doubted I’d be able to do it. But I also had no idea of what lay ahead. If I had, I might not have been quite so confident. But now that I’m near the end, and with the easy stretches ahead, I’m astounded I managed to get this far, and certainly amazed I’m still standing…well at the moment I’m lying down 😁😁😁

But, geez, I never imagined I would do quite as much walking as what I have. It’s been epic. Every day has brought its own joy, and pain, and laughter, and lots of “OMG that’s amazing” moments; reaching the border with Scotland, the dolphins off Farne Islands, seeing that bridge in Berwick Upon Tweed, traversing the bloody Blythe River estuary 🤪🤪, visiting St Mary’s Lighthouse, the wonderful beaches of Northumberland, the many castles – all different and unique in their own way, reaching Tynemouth, the bridges of Newcastle, visiting Arbeia Roman Fort, discovering the first section of the Wall at Heddon on the Wall, seeing the ascent and then descent as I climbed the first ridge on Hadrian’s Wall (I truly do not know how I did all those), seeing the tree at Sycamore Gap from the top of the ridge and suddenly realising what it was 😄😄, exploring the forts and carrying my backpack for 32kms on what was the hottest day of my whole journey…unreal.

I just wish I hadn’t been so tired at the end of each day, I’d have liked to write down the daily experiences…but it was all I could do just to upload some photos before crashing. I’m looking forward to calculating my distances. But one of the best aspects of this journey has been the many, many lovely people I have met along the way, especially on Hadrian’s Way…truly epic.

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Living in the south east of England, except for a brief visit to Durham a few years ago, the northeast feels quite remote, and although I wanted to visit Berwick Upon Tweed after connecting via twitter with someone who lived there, it may as well have been the moon for all the probability that I might visit.

However a number of factors arose over the years; my walking escapades with plans to walk Hadrian’s Wall and the two Saints Ways: St Cuthbert & St Oswald, and more lately the entire English Coast, suddenly it no longer seems quite so remote. Its 413 miles in fact from Ramsgate to Berwick Upon Tweed, so not as far as the moon after all.

As soon as I had decided to walk the Northumbrian coast instead of the saints ways, I started doing some research on the county. I had read a little bit about the history in a book by Neil Oliver that I read last year, and the history is amazing and intriguing.

So here goes, some facts and figures about Northumberland:

Northumberland has come out on top as being the quietest place in England! The county has a low population density with only 64 people per square kilometre, ranking as the 16th emptiest place in the whole of the UK.

Northumberland is a ceremonial county and historic county in North East England. It is bordered by the Scottish Borders to the north, Cumbria to the west, and both County Durham and Tyne and Wear to the south.

There are 7 castles in Northumberland, I will be visiting 5 during my walk

Northumberland is designated an AONB: area of natural beauty and has designated Dark Skies areas as well as which in some places you can, if you’re lucky, see the aroura borealis (fingers crossed) Northumberland is the best place to stargaze in the UK with 572 square miles of the county having been awarded Gold Tier status.

There are 70 castle sites in Northumberland, with 7 along the coast path, of which I will visit 5:

Berwick Castle – commissioned by the Scottish King David I in the 1120s

Lindisfarne – a 16th-century castle located on Holy Island, much altered by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1901

Bamburgh – originally the location of a Celtic Brittonic fort destroyed by Vikings in 993. The Normans later built a new castle on the site, which forms the core of the present one, now owned by the Armstrong family

Dunstanburgh – a 14th-century fortification on the coast built by Earl Thomas of Lancaster between 1313 and 1322

Warkworth – a ruined medieval castle, traditionally its construction has been ascribed to Prince Henry of Scotland, Earl of Northumbria, in the mid-12th C, but it may have been built by King Henry II of England when he took control of England’s northern counties

Islands: 3 of which I plan to visit 2

1. Holy Island of Lindisfarne – This place of worship, tranquillity and breath-taking beauty was the home of St Cuthbert, who allegedly held the power of spiritual healing.

2. Farne Islands – St Cuthbert lived on the island in a cell during his time on the island. The Inner Farne is the largest of the Farne islands group and is home to many of the breeding birds during the season, Puffins,Shags, Guillemots, Cormorants and Razor Bills : read more https://farneislandstours.co.uk/the-farne-islands/ I’ve booked my ticket for this.

Coquet Island – Every spring, Coquet Island becomes bustling with birdlife as some 35,000 seabirds cram onto this tiny island to breed. Most famously, puffins whose cute and clumsy mannerisms have earned them the nickname of the ‘clowns of the sea’, visit in their thousands. You can only visit by boat, so if I have time on that day, I’ll try take a trip

Northumberland borders east Cumbria, north County Durham and north Tyne and Wear.

Northumberland’s unique breed of cattle are rarer than giant pandas. This unique herd of wild cattle are believed to be the sole descendants of herds that once roamed the forests of ancient Britain. It is thought they have been living at Chillingham for more than 700 years.

Historical sites –

Newcastle Castle is a medieval fortification in Newcastle upon TyneEngland, built on the site of the fortress that gave the City of Newcastle its name.

A number of Battlefields, priories and iron age sites dot the Northumberland landscape. I’m not sure how many I’ll get to see on my way south, but I’ll be sure to look out for them! Other than that:

Hadrian’s Wall – I’ll be walking the wall from 11th – 21st Hadrian’s Wall starts in what is now Tyne & Wear, follows through Northumberland and ends in Cumbria.

Vindolanda Roman Fort : a Roman auxiliary fort just south of Hadrian’s Wall which it originally pre-dated. Archaeological excavations of the site show it was under Roman occupation from roughly 85 AD to 370 AD. Ref Wikipedia

Chester’s Roman Fort : The cavalry fort, known to the Romans as Cilurnum, was built in about AD 124. It housed some 500 cavalrymen and was occupied until the Romans left Britain in the 5th century. Ref English Heritage

Temple of Mithras : The temple was probably built by soldiers at the fort at Carrawburgh around AD 200 and destroyed about AD 350. Three altars found here (replicas stand in the temple) were dedicated by commanding officers of the unit stationed here, the First Cohort of Batavians from the Rhineland. ref English Heritage

Housesteads Roman Fort :  built in stone around AD 124, soon after the construction of the wall began in AD 122

Corbridge Roman Fort : Corbridge was once a bustling town and supply base where Romans and civilians would pick up food and provisions. It remained a vibrant community right up until the end of Roman Britain in the early years of the 5th century. Ref English Heritage

UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage site, starts in Newcastle, Tyne & Wear, runs through Northumberland and ends in Cumbria.

The historic county town is Alnwick. And the biggest town is Blyth.

Earl Grey tea originated in Northumberland.

Northumberland was once the largest kingdom in the British Isles

Over a thousand years before Northumberland was affectionately known as ‘the last hidden kingdom’, it was known as the Kingdom of Northumbria.

Lancelot Capability Brown was born in the hamlet of Kirkharle.

Northumbrian (Old English: Norþanhymbrisċ) was a dialect of Old English spoken in the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria. Together with Mercian, Kentish and West Saxon, it forms one of the sub-categories of Old English devised and employed by modern scholars.

At nearly 580sq miles, the dark sky zone, known as Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, is the largest Gold Tier Dark Sky Park area of protected night sky in Europe.

The famous detective programme ‘Vera’ featuring Brenda Blethyn, is filmed in various places in Northumberland and Newcastle Upon Tyne.

During my ‘research’ I’ve found so many interesting places, many of which are too far off the wall route for me to visit, but I guess I can always visit again someday.

And that’s it for now. There’s much else of course, but….

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I had to concede defeat today and had my first Covid vaccine jab. I’m not happy about it, but when you start hearing things like “have you had a test recently, or when will you be having your innoculation?” from prospective clients et al, along with talk of vaccine passports, you know the writing is on the wall. We are but a commodity.

So I just said, to hell with it  and booked an appointment. So many people are still totally ignorant of Covid and its transmission. Having the vaccine is not going to stop me from inadvertently passing it on to someone else in the event I come into contact with it. Its seems that some folk think it’s a magic wand, and once you have the jab you’re safe. You’re not. You’re just less likely to get really ill, and even then it’s no guarantee. Even the scientists are not wholly in agreement about the efficacy and what it means. Ugh. Anyway, it’s done. I can’t afford to not work.

The process itself was painless in all respects, and the system was smooth and flowed easily. Because of previous negative responses to a flu vaccine, I stayed institu for 25 minutes after the jab, just to make sure I didn’t just keel over and die 🤪🤪 and then I was away…the staff were friendly and well organised and I was impressed with the efficiency of it all. I still, 9 hours later have had no ill-effects. In case you’re wondering, I had the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. 🤔🤔🤔

The good thing that came out of it is that I had an unexpected trip to Deal. After the jab, I set off for a walk to Walmer Castle. Its amazing how close the 2 castles are to each other…25 minutes brisk walk. But first I had a most delicious curried vegetable pie from Al’s Bakery on the High Street…totally recommended. If I’d known it would be so yummy, I’d have bought 2.

A quick walk along the pier as well, then back on the train…which remarkably, considering the delays caused by the land slip near Folkestone, arrived at Deal and stopped at exactly 14:32 (I was watching the clock) – even a Swiss train would be hard put to match that!! 😉

It’s a very long pier

Oh, and see that arrow pointing to the land in the distance in the next image… that’s the White Cliffs of Dover and last year I walked from Walmer to Dover via the cliffs…awesome walk and really beautiful

Deal Castle
Walmer Castle

Deal is an incredibly historic town with some amazing old houses

Carter House

Although it was wet, cold and blustery, I really enjoyed my walk and as usual could have just kept going….as soon as lockdown lifts, that’s exactly what I’m going to do…

I love these cycle path signs….tempted to follow them one day 🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️

I love this little square

And of course, you can’t visit a seaside town and not stop to look at the boats

A pretty fishing boat

And finally, one of my favourite signs

The Acorn – symbol of the National Trails – England Coastal Path

And today’s walk added another 8kms to my Mt. Everest virtual challenge and takes me to nearly half way through the challenge 🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️👏👏👏

Both Deal and Walmer are mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book :

Deal was a settlement in Domesday Book, listed as Addelam, in the hundred of Cornilo and the county of Kent. It had a recorded population of 31 households in 1086, putting it in the largest 40% of settlements recorded in Domesday, and is listed under 5 owners in Domesday Book.

Julius Caesar reputedly landed on the beach at Walmer in 55 BC and 54 BC. It is only one possible landing place, proposed judging from the distances given in his account of the landings in his Gallic Wars. However, recent archaeological research and digs have found that he landed at Pegwell Bay. Walmer is probably the settlement Wealemere listed in the Domesday Book.

As I mentioned….loads of history, and both castles are well worth a visit

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addendum: I actually started this post yesterday, but got so involved with planning my Pilgrim’s Way walk and Hadrian’s Wall walk that I completely forgot to update and post it. Although theoretically I actually owe you 1000 words, it’s already 22:31 and I really need to get to bed earlier than the last two nights……midnight and after midnight….respectively. So here goes…..

Never one to let a bad year bring me down, despite the downs there have been many ups…my grandson celebrated his 1st birthday, I visited the Isle of Wight for a 2nd time on an assignment; this time I stayed near Cowes, although I didn’t get to do as much travelling as before. We visited the Donkey Sanctuary in March; me, my daughter & grandson to visit his adopted donkey; Ruby…she’s a beauty and a lot bigger than we expected. While there we drove across country to visit Tintagel Castle – which is just phenomenal and a must visit.

7 weeks of lockdown were spent in a beautiful, peaceful village in Somerset where I was lucky enough to be able to walk in the Quantock Hills during our 1 hour of allowable exercise. During said lockdown I reached the grand age of 65 (an age denied to my beloved brother & Mother). I celebrated with my little family via zoom and received some beautiful iced biscuits from my daughter.

During my brief breaks between assignments, I’ve had dozens of happy mornings on the beach with my little beeboo watching him run about picking up stones and feathers and sticks, dipping his feet in the sea and buying him a naughty ice-cream on the way home 😉

I’ve visited a few places new to me on work assignments, some good, some not…currently working in Croydon but I have not been out much since I’ve been planning planning planning & now I’m on the cusp of finishing my #pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury along The Pilgrim’s Way. Finally. I started this walk in 2018, and then my grandson came along and all thought of being away for any length of time except for work went out the window LOL

And so, 2 years & 12 days after my 2018 pilgrimage ended in Oxted due to injury, I shall restart my journey in Oxted and coddiwomble to Canterbury while crossing rivers, visiting castles, a few palaces, Roman villas, a Carmelite Monastery, ancient stones & churches, some of England’s most historic & ancient villages, towns & cities, many of which are Domesday Book places, the Black Prince’s well, an abbey and a famous Cathedral while just enjoying the freedom of walking from place to place along ancient pathways, across fields, beneath trees, over too many stiles, & no doubt some tarmac.

I plan to see a few sunrises, definitely many sunsets, listen to birdsong & moos, have no doubt that I will cry from pain, curse my sore bones, swear at Pepe (my backpack), laugh with joy, sing a few songs & post dozens of photos.

The planning is 90% complete (as of yesterday – by this evening it was 100% completed), so yesterday I bought a little diary to keep note of pertinent details of each day… especially where I’m meant to be sleeping each night.. most important aspect of each day.

I’m soooo excited. Finally!! And that will be my 4th long distance walk, but all being well, not my last. My daughter, son-in-law & grandson will meet me in Canterbury in the evening for a celebratory meal. Hoorah!!!

Counting the days.  I’d like to give a #shoutout to Tony and Sarah of The Old Alma Inn for their lovely customer service 👍 and👎to Airbnb for making it so difficult to identify a venue in a specific location and some of their hosts for not updating their calendars.

Alongside of planning the final section of the Pilgrim’s Way, I’ve also been planning my trip to Newcastle……yes!!! I’ll be walking Hadrian’s Wall 🙂 🙂 🙂

It’s been a long held dream of mine to walk Hadrian’s Wall and initially when I finally decided to complete the Pilgrim’s Way I thought why not just make it a foursome…..The Pilgrim’s Way, St Cuthbert’s Way, Hadrian’s Wall and the West Highland Way…..bought the books and started investigating costs…..hah! It quickly whittled down from 4 to 2! OMG!! It’s very expensive to go walking in this country. Walking the Camino didn’t cost me nearly as much and the accommodation was wayyyyyy cheaper. Some B&B’s were charging in excess of £100 per night per person. Absolutely mad. My daughter suggested I camp each night, but no thanks LOL I’m far too keen on sleeping in a proper bed. 😉 So I had to just suck in my breath a couple of times and book regardless, but fortunately by using AirBnB I managed to keep the costs down and the most expensive night was £41.

Although I still have a gripe with AirBnB and their daft location suggestions, I did after hours of searching manage to tie down all the nights I needed.

I’m planning on visiting Homesteads Roman fort and of course Vindolanda. There are so many amazing places along the route that I’m not sure I’ll have time to visit them all. And of course I’m planning on seeing as many sunrises and sunsets as I can……depending on the weather!

Also did you know that Hadrian’s Wall doesn’t actually march in a straight line from east to west? I always imagined it was pretty straight with a few dents and nooks here and there, but while researching I have found that it actually zig zags like a caterpillar on ecstacy!! Crikey! I really didn’t imagine and as well as which, a whole heck of a lot of it doesn’t exist anymore and the stones have been repurposed for houses and churches. Hah!! So a lot of it is just now in your imagination LOL

But oh what remains looks absolutely amazing and some of places I’ll be travelling through look fantastic. The countryside looks so beautiful.

Now all I need is good weather……says someone who actually lives in the UK and should know better LOL

Next week I’ll be buying new walking shoes, rain pants, and socks….lots of new socks and sorting out my backpack. I haven’t used Pepe in over 2 years, poor thing probably feels neglected. Oh and talking of backpacks, I’m going to use the baggage forwarding service on 5 of the 12 walking days and 4 days will be spent in Carlisle and I’ll walk 2 separate sections over 2 days and bus back to Carlisle at night. Makes sense, especially since accommodation was so hard to find.

And that m’dears brings me to 1058 words…..so hoorah, I’m up to date, albeit 1 day behind. So before it after midnight once again, I shall bid you goodnight, and hopefully I don’t forget to write tomorrow. 🙂

oh and p.s. did you know that Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? How awesome is that! another one for my list on Project 101

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I’m going to try keeping a diary over this period and blog on a daily basis….

However, I do get lazy and distracted by reading/social media/tv/OPB/BBC 🤪🤪😂😂😂 but I’ll try my best. (OPB = other people’s blogs).

Frankly my life hasn’t changed that much. As a Carer for the elderly I’m classified as a ‘key worker’, and yesterday, after a 6.5 hour journey on 2 trains, 2 tube rides and 2 taxis, I arrived at my next assignment. I’m meant to be here for 2 weeks, but that could change due to the lockdown, and I may end up being here for 4 weeks….not longer. My birthday is coming up soon and I DO. NOT. WORK. ON. MY. BIRTHDAY.

So for me its same old same….different place, different client, same difference. In other words, my jobs entails pretty much the same thing every day for 14 days, but just a different location and different person, but same issues.

I get sent all over the country and sometimes to places well off the map, mostly never heard of except by the residents.

But often the dice falls in my favour and I get sent to a place that has all the elements that get me excited…. in this instance, not only is this village a Domesday Book Village, but it has had some famous residents and boasts the ruins of a Norman motte and bailey.

Following Johnson’s announcement of a nationwide lockdown last night, I took my 1st ‘allowed’ excursion this morning to the store for basics. I’m going to make use of this time every day for a breather and stock up on the basics needed to feed my client, and other such things.

Then this afternoon I used my 2 hour break to take advantage of the allowable exercise outing. I usually do take this time to get out and walk anyway but now of course it’s a privilege rather than an expectation.

What a charming little village this is. Quaint old houses, a little brook dashing through the streets, a clock tower, and oodles of history….one of the Guy Fawkes protagonists was born here. How awesome is that!!!

Quaint old cottages and a clock tower
A bubbling brook
Bad lad…boom!!

I’m staying in a quirky 16th century cottage with more steps and landings than I care to count 😂😂😂😂 if I lift my hand I can touch the ceiling….and I am not tall…just 5ft 5 inches. I’m guessing people were much shorter in the 16th century. Last night when I went to bed, last thing before I switched off the light…I reminded myself about the step outside my room so that I don’t fall flat on my face in the middle of the night.

I pretty much have the house to myself as my client has been practicing ‘social distancing’ for the last 4 years…apparently she took to her room 4 years ago and refuses to come out unless she has a medical appointment. This is not unusual.

I set off at 2pm and after a short walk I found an information board about the village and that’s where I discovered there’s a castle. Whoop whoop. Needless to say it’s on the top of the hill 🤪🤪🤪🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️⛰🏰 a steep climb. What’s with those Normans anyway, building their castles at the top of the hills…I mean seriously, no cars, no buses, no escalators, no lifts…but they build on the top of the hill 🤨🤨😉

It’s at this point that I miss my walking poles the most. It really feels weird being out walking without them. But onwards….

I soon reached the crest of the hill and to my delight there was the castle. Okay its totally overgrown now and there’s nary a stone or wooden pole to be seen, but it’s so exciting to walk in the footsteps of people who lived here nearly 1000 years ago.

Norman motte and bailey
Hinkley Point in the distance

The views are spectacular…you can see for miles and miles, even the Bristol Channel, and in the distance I could see Hinkley Point Power Station. The village looked cosy snuggled as it is in the folds of the valley.

I’m sure the air is fresher….I sat out on the highest point I could find and just enjoyed the quiet, the brisk breeze and the delicious sunshine on my skin. There’s a grassy bowl towards the middle of the castle where I could easily spend the day…a blanket, a good book, flask of hot tea and packet of biscuits and I’d not leave all day.

Perfect spot to spend the day

I phoned my little family on the other side of the country and enjoyed seeing my adorable grandson and chatting to my daughter and son-in-law. They’re bearing up and enjoying being home, creating fun things to do for the baby.

A few other people made the most of the lovely weather and walked around the perimeter of the mound.

After 20 minutes of gorgeous warmth I walked back down into the village and along one street to the outer edge then turned back and made my way back to the cottage. A pleasing break and added 3.2 kms to my walk 1000 miles challenge….although as things are going, its unlikely I’ll reach my target this year.

Edge of the village

Then it was back to work and supper preparation and frequent visits from downstairs to upstairs 🤪🤪🤪 I told my client that at this rate, with the number of times I respond to the bell, I’m sure to get fit and lose weight.

At the moment I’m watching TV and writing this blog while counting the minutes till bedtime 😁😁 end of day one of 21 days of lockdown. 20 to go…its frustrating of course, upsetting and unsettling and we have no idea how things are going to pan out, but in the greater scheme of things…time out is no bad thing, and like I said, my life has not changed that much…

I saw this sculpture at the edge of the village…it made me smile and think of bonkers Boris….”stay home or else ”

Stay at home 😂😂😂

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloSaturday 25th August 2018 Day 5 – (day in Guildford to explore) 4.68 kms / 12,773 steps elevation 65 meters

I had a lovely 5 km amble around Guildford this morning.

The town is located near the site of the “Golden Ford” an established crossing place; it is this Ford to which Guildford owes its name. An ancient track-way which ran along the North Downs descended to this river crossing. The first written record relating to King Alfred about Guildford dates from around AD 885.

Retracing my steps from previous visits I walked up the fantastic cobbled and pedestrianised High Street where I passed the Abbot’s Hospital; founded in 1619 by George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury as a gift “out of my love to the place of my birth”. Built as a shelter for the elderly poor of the town – 12 single men and 8 single women, it’s not open to the public for touring, but if the door is open do pop in to the edge pf the courtyard for a glimpse of the courtyard. It’s a stunning building and I enjoy popping in whenever I’m in Guildford.

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Abbot’s Hospital built 1619

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Abbots Hospital built 1619

The High Street contains some fantastic old buildings, the Guildhall with it’s marvellous clock.

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the Guildhall and it’s fabulous clock

I passed the Three Pigeons Pub; a mid-18th century pub with a fabulous facade modelled on a late 17th century house in Oxford.

Further up the High Street at the junction of Upper High Street, is a statue of George Abbot looking not quite down the High Street.

On my way back down the High Street I stopped off at the Holy Trinity Church where George Abbot is buried. There was a choir practising for a concert that night; Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’….I wish now that I had made the effort to go watch. Missed opportunity.

I  strolled along the Town Path, a narrow lane that takes you out towards the castle.

There’s a wonderful sundial featuring Edward and Eleanor (1272-1307) on one of the buildings in Castle Street.

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Edward and Eleanor sundial Guildford

A visit to the castle is a must, with fabulous views across the town. Built shortly after the 1066 invasion of England by William the Conqueror, today the Keep is the most substantial section that remains. It is however not mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book so was probably built later. The gardens are a kaleidoscope of colourful flowers and plants.

I searched for the Alice Through the Looking Glass sculpture eventually and found it within a small garden in the perimeter of the castle grounds; a memorial to Lewis Carroll who stayed in his sisters’ house; The Chestnuts from 1868 until his death in 1898.

I walked downhill and passed through Castle Arch; constructed in 1256 by John of Gloucester , King Henry III’s master mason.

As I strolled along Quarry Street I passed the Guildford Museum so popped in for a short visit…..the museum forms the gatehouse and annex of Guildford Castle and houses as fantastic collection of artefacts with over over 75,000 objects, dating from c.500,000 BC (the Lower Palaeolithic) to the modern day.

I had planned to walk along the River Wey to find the Alice and the Rabbit sculpture, so set off, first visiting St Mary’s Church where they were preparing for a wedding. Sadly no pilgrim’s stamp.

I crossed the medieval town bridge, constructed with wood in 920, it has stood for 7 centuries (albeit partially destroyed in 1900 by a flood),

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Guildford Bridge

and found what I was looking for…what a delight.

Along the way I passed St Nicholas Parish Church which didn’t appear to be open. It’s a marvellous looking building and a church has stood on that site since 1300.

Another delightful sculpture is at the bottom of the High Street; The Surrey Scholar by Allan Sly, unveiled in 2002.

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The Scholar, Guildford

After a few hours I made my way back to the airbnb and spent the rest of the day, preparing a good meal, repacking my backpack and resting…a long sleep was beneficial.

Here’s a link in case you’re interested in finding out more about the Abbot’s Hospital
https://www.abbotshospital.org/

In all, Guildford is a fascinating town with a wonderful history and so much to see. Although I have visited Guildford a few times in the past, I was glad of the opportunity to spend some more time there. It’s such a fascinating place.

In case you missed Day 4 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way

I’ve made a short video of my day in Guildford

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloFriday 24th August 2018 Day 4 – Farnham to Guildford : 24.17 kms /49461 steps elevation 228m

I awoke refreshed after a peaceful sleep and comfy mattress. It’s so quiet here, all I can hear is the soughing of the trees and the background noises of the house.

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the view from the bathroom

I walked towards town along the roads along which I had arrived last night….they looked very different in the bright sunshine LOL I also wondered how I had managed to navigate the road in the dark without falling on my face.

I. Do. Not . Feel. Like. Walking. Again. Today. 😂 😂 😂 But I must. So onwards. But first a visit to Farnham Castle.

Farnham Castle Oh My Gosh…stunning. Definitely worth the time taken to explore….as with Chawton I’ll write a separate blog about the visit…meanwhile here’s a sneak peek

After spending a good 30 minutes exploring the castle from top to toe, I made my way down the Blind Bishop’s Steps – 7 paces by 7 paces… Bishop Fox’s steps down the side of Farnham Castle. Very cool.

From the 7th century Farnham belonged to the Bishop of Winchester, and developed to become a town by the 13th century.

From the castle I strolled downhill into the town centre, passing the amazing 17th century alms houses built in 1619 by a man named Andrew Windsor

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Alms Houses built 1619

At the junction instead of turning left to follow the route, on impulse I decided to turn right and walk the length of the main road. Enroute I discovered the museum in Vernon House….fabulous place. Wow.

King Charles I stayed at Vernon House in Farnham on his way to his trial and execution in London in 1649. They even have King Charles I’s night cap that he wore whilst staying at the house on his way back to London.

walking the pilgrims way, farnham to guildford, long distance walks in the uk, solo walking for women, farnham castle, the north downs way, churches of england, domesday book town of the england

the night cap worn by Charles I when he stayed at Vernon House

Leaving the museum I made my way over to St Andrews church. There has been a church on the site of St Andrews since the 7th century, and the building contains 9th century foundations. The present building dates from the late 11th century.

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A quick explore and then I made my way back through town and following the guide set off towards the station.

Farnham appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 and has an amazing history. I definitely would like to spend a full day here the next time I walk the Pilgrim’s Way….the next time? LOL hmmm

Just on 11:45 andddd I’m Finally on my way 😂 😂 😂 4.5 kms walking exploring Farnham and I’m now 2 hours behind schedule again. Here I join the North Downs Way.

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The North Downs Way from Farnham

After a few hours of walking during which I passed Moor Park House…wow, pretty amazing, passed Farnham Golf Club (The Sands), I eventually stopped in the middle of a vast nature reserve to add my dna to Surrey’s soil. (I’ll leave that to your imagination LOL) I spied a bountiful hedge of blackberries; I ate and ate and ate till I was full. Whilst I was resting a little old man came toddling by in a black raincoat. I asked him “aren’t you awfully hot in that raincoat?” to which he replied “I don’t trust the weather!”. We both laughed. “British weather eh! Can’t trust it”. He asked where I was going, so told him I was following the Pilgrim’s Way (albeit having taken a bit of a diversion to walk along the North Downs Way which was quieter). He then proceeded to give me a 20 minute history lesson that ranged from Seale Church to Thomas Becket to a church in France dedicated to Becket and St Martha’s Church in England which is the only St Martha’s church, but thought to be corrupted from Thomas Becket, Saint and Martyr. So I’m now a lot wiser. Bless his socks 😊😊

After that I visited the church in Seale which is just awesome and where I found a pilgrim stamp for my passport. In 1487 the village of Seale was called Zeyle and the church dates from the 12th century.

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and from there picked up the Pilgrim’s Way again which I have since regretted as it runs along a steep up and down, very narrow, very busy, very bloody winding road with cars whizzing by every few seconds. HORRIBLE. 😭😭 I also visited the amazing St John the Baptist Church in Puttenham and finally I reached Puttenham: I rested just outside the village of Puttenham and wished I had a car. 😂😂😂

It was a gorgeous day and I had no desire to walk any further 🙄🙄🚶🚶🚶 ah well. Onwards I guess. Guildford is unlikely to come to me 🤔🤔🤔

I passed the Watts Gallery Artists’ Village a bit too late to visit and much as I really wanted to visit Watts Cemetery Chapel, I was simply too tired so plodded on. The route took me along ‘Sandy Lane’ which was as it’s name suggested……very sandy, and extremely hard to walk along! urgh As the day was drawing to a close I finally reached the outskirts of Guildford and stopped off at Ye Olde Ship Inn, St Catherine’s Village

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Ye Olde Ship Inn, St Catherine’s

for supper…a delicious vegetarian calzone that really lifted my spirits…..walking the pilgrims way, farnham to guildford, long distance walks in the uk, solo walking for women, farnham castle, the north downs way, churches of england, domesday book town of the englandand then it was a longggggg walk into Guildford and to my airbnb.

Today was a hard hard day. I got wet, and I climbed more hills than I ever wanted to….but I saw some amazing places, visited an extraordinary castle, saw a few fabulous churches and some wonderful old buildings. Further scenes from today’s walk along both the North Downs Way and The Pilgrim’s Way. Occasionally they diverge. So many beautiful places. I managed to get a few stamps in my passport as well 😃😃

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The AirBnb turned out to the worst venue I have yet stayed at on AirBnb. But I was booked in for 2 nights, so I had to just grin and bear it. I didn’t have the energy to start looking for a different place. Fortunately I had the house to myself so the comment made as I was shown to my room, didn’t transpire….”I hope you don’t mind but you’ll have people walking through your room to reach the bathroom”. Uhmmm what???? yes, I do bloody mind….you’ll have to make use of another area. The ‘bedroom’ was a walk-through landing between the stairs and the bathroom and NOT a proper bedroom at all. It was dirty, the stairs were dirty, the carpets were dirty and the host had made up the top bunk…hello?? I’m 63!!walking the pilgrims way, farnham to guildford, long distance walks in the uk, solo walking for women, farnham castle, the north downs way, churches of england, domesday book town of the england

I spent 2 nights and a day in Guildford; I’ll do a separate blog for Day 5 in Guildford.
I’ve created a short video with images of the route

In case you missed Day 3 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way

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I was so excited to visit Farnham Castle that I left the AirBnb earlier than I left my previous venues. Walking back along the roads towards Farnham in the daylight was soooo much easier than the night before…..LOL

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imagine walking along here in the dark!! it wasn’t fun

The castle was just a short 15 minute walk and I was soon immersed in ancient history.

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I LOVE visiting castles and towns with an ancient history and my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way gave me so many wonderful opportunities to explore ancient churches, Domesday Book villages and of course castles. A huge boost to Project 101.

Founded in 1138 by Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, grandson of William the Conqueror and brother of King Stephen, all that remains is the keep…which is way impressive. The Castle was the home of the Bishops of Winchester for over 800 years.farnham castle, visit farnham castle, castles of the uk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks of england, women walking solo, history of england, domesday towns of england

The Bishops’ Castles and Palaces – in today’s terms, the medieval estate earned million of pounds each year. The bishops could afford to build on a lavish scale and many did; churches and colleges, castles and palaces. The bishops travelled widely, visiting their manors and their parishes. They frequently made the two-day journey between London and Winchester. Farnham, lying halfway between, providing a convenient stopping place between London and Winchester, would have been a good place to rest overnight.

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The history of the castle is phenomenal and well worth exploring. Don’t miss the historical exhibition at the entrance.

English monarchs, from bad King John to Queen Victoria have visited or stayed at Farnham Castle.

Climbing the stairs gave me a thrill as I imagined what it must have been like in the days when it was first built.farnham castle, visit farnham castle, castles of the uk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks of england, women walking solo, history of england, domesday towns of england

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climbing the steps of the castle keep

I spent a good 40 minutes exploring the grounds of the keep and so enjoyed the historical exhibition.

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The gated entrance – The Bishop’s Palace, Farnham

The castle keep is managed by English Heritage and free to visit.

The Bishop’s Palace is open for fascinating historic guided tours on Wednesday afternoons (from 2pm to 4pm, with the last tour starting at 3:30pm). You can reserve your space by calling 01252 721194.

 

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I’d never been to Southampton and as it’s on my Project 101 list, I thought that since I’d be close enough by train I may as well stay there for a couple of days and explore the city.  Besides which…it was also a whole lot cheaper than staying in Winchester LOL (I actually told one lady that I didn’t want to buy the house, just stay there for one night! – she wasn’t impressed hahahaha).

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tired after a day of exploring…take a seat why don’t you.

I had initially planned to explore Southampton on the 19th but instead decided to head over to Winchester instead. Most places appeared to be closed in Southampton on a Sunday, and since I was wanting to do the King Alfred walk in Winchester and the weather was going to be cloudy both days anyway, I decided to change plans. Benefit of being a solo traveller.

So, the day before I was due to start my walk along the Pilgrim’s Way, I had a super day exploring Southampton Old Town. I walked along sections of the old city walls; quite a thrill. I was delighted to find that there were still whole sections that you could walk along and I made the most of the opportunity.

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wonderful history of the UK…welcoming refugees

A little bit of history to tickle your fancy:

Southampton; located on a major estuary on the English Channel has been settled since the Stone Age.
Known as Clausentum in Roman times, Southampton was an important trading port, but abandoned circa 410 when the Romans up and left.
The settlement was known as Hamwic and or Hamtum during the Anglo-Saxon period
After defeating the Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred the Unready in 1014, the Viking King, Canute the Great, was crowned in Southampton.
Southampton became a major port of transit between Winchester (capital of England until early 12th C) and Normandy following the Norman Conquest in 1066.
The 1086 Domesday Book indicates that Southampton already had distinct French and English quarters at the time of the Norman Conquest.
The foundation of St. Michael’s Church has been dated at 1070.
Mary Magdalen Leperosy Hospital was established to the north of the town by 1173.
St Julians Hospital, also known as God’s House Hospital, was founded around 1196 by Gervase ‘le Riche’. A Franciscan friary was later built alongside God’s House hospital.
The Medieval Wool House was built in the 14th century to serve the wool trade and store wool for export to Italy. It’s been through various changes since then and served as a prison during the Napoleonic wars to house French prisoners of war “some of whose names may be seen carved on the beams of the roof”, the Maritime Museum circa 1966, a workshop; The Moonbeam Engineering Company Limited who built motor launches, Element Arts; a pop-up arts organisation – who used the space as a gallery and community arts venue featuring exhibitions and live events – music, dance, poetry, theatre, and now the Dancing Man Brewery a brewpub/restaurant.
Southampton was awarded City status by The Queen in 1964.

On my way towards the Old Town I passed the area of Holy Rood; a series of metal sculptures were erected around the estate in tribute to the area’s role in the Merchant Navy’s history of Southampton.
Holyrood Church, which was damaged in World War II, now serves as a memorial to the Merchant Navy.

I started off at the edge of the city walls, once the boundary of a Franciscan friary (settled in 1224). By the end of the 14th century, the town of Southampton was entirely enclosed by stone walls.

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then walked past the remains of God’s House Tower (protected the medieval town from attack),

from there I followed the perimeter of the old city walls, I discovered a link with Jane Austen 🙂 – Watergate & Quay – “Jane’s niece, 14 year old Fanny Knight, records in her diary of Tuesday 15 September 1807, that Jane and the rest of the family embarked from here to visit friends in Hythe for Afternoon Tea. Fanny writes; “Mama to everyone’s astonishment was of the party and not at all sick”.

the rear view of the Watergate ruins

the 12th century Duke of Wellington Pub

A short distance later I discovered the Wool House and popped in for a quick look (I didn’t see the prisoner’s inscriptions though) – The Medieval Wool House was built in the 14th century to serve the wool trade and store wool for export to Italy, and served as a prison during the Napoleonic wars to house French prisoners of war “some of whose names may be seen carved on the beams of the roof”

after which a short diversion took me along Bugle Street

first I passed the fabulous 12th century Duke of Wellington pub

strolling on along Bugle Street I discovered the amazing Tudor House – Restored 14th-c. Tudor house & remains of a 12th-c. Norman home, with 16th-century gardens & a cafe…where I enjoyed a superb lunch… Wow, what an extraordinary place.

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I spent ages exploring this fabulous house; a time capsule with some incredible artefacts. A visit to the cellar is a must – used as a WW2 shelter by the family who lived there at the time, there is a fantastic and spine-tingling audio that takes you right back to an air-raid.

Exploring the premises behind the house (where you find the café) I saw a canon made for Henry VIII, and the awesome ruins of King John’s Castle.

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Across the garden are some glass doors, step through…. there you will find a delightful exhibition worth having a look at

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After strolling back along Bugle Street I noticed another section of the city walls down an alley, so I climbed the steps and strolled along another section of the city walls and onto Cuckoo Lane…passing the Westgate Hall aka Tudor Merchants Hall on my way.

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Heading back to the Tudor House, I walked past and turned left down along Blue Anchor Lane towards the previous town quay…now a road.blue anchor lane southampton england, explore southampton, visit southampton The Pilgrim Fathers embarked here from the West Quay on the Mayflower in August 15 1620. Passing through the Westgate (through the archway marched some of the some of the army of Henry V on their way to Agincourt in 1415) – stupendous. It gave me goosebumps walking through the arch.

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walking through history; through this archway marched some of the some of the army of     Henry V on their way to Agincourt in 1415 – awesome

I strolled alongside the ancient walls, known as The Arcades, and found another section that could be walked (yes, I’m addicted to walking along old city walls LOL- also part of Project 101) I reached ‘Catchcold’ Tower (fortunately I didn’t catch a cold) – purpose built in the early 15th century to carry ordnance (cannon). Brilliant views of the old quay. During WW2 an anti-aircraft machine-gun was mounted on the tower.

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From there I walked along to Arundel Tower – said to be named after the magical horse of Sir Bevois, one of the founders of Southampton. Legend has it that Arundel was so fast he could out-fly swallows. When Sir Bevios died, the horse threw himself from the tower in sorrow.

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Leaving the ramparts I descended to ground level and walked across to the Bargate. Wow, just stunning. By walking through the Bargate’s grand entrance, you travel in the footsteps of generations of townspeople, visitors and kings and queens. A pair of lions has guarded the gate since the 1600s. The Jane Austen heritage trail starts at the Bargate.

Walking further I took a random turn and saw a beautiful pub and another link to Jane Austen ; Jane’s homes from 1807 to 1809 was sited here in Castle Square.

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finding Jane Austen in Southampton

Then back past the fabulous Tudor House, opposite which was St Michael’s Square; once a busy fish market selling freshly caught eels, mackerel, whiting and oysters. Built in the 1070s, St Michael’s is the only surviving parish church in Southampton.

I then continued my walk along Castle Way where I passed the fantastic medieval Merchant’s timber house (sadly closed during the week) – what was that I said about places being closed yesterday….hmmm. .

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The medieval Timber House, Castle Way, Southampton

The weather was brilliant and I even squeezed in a quick visit to the harbour. I noticed there was a ferry to the Isle of Wight and the temptation to just hop on and visit Cowes again was very strong LOL. But I resisted….I was due to start my walk the next day and it would have been awful if I hadn’t been able to get back to Southampton for some reason.

After a brilliant few hours of exploring I meandered through Queen’s Park then back along Queensway and through West (Watts) Park where I saw the plaque for the Mary Magdalen Leprosy Hospital which stood near this spot in medieval times.

Then back to the AirBnb to rest and prepare myself and Pepe for the start of The Pilgrim’s Way.

In all, a very satisfactory day full of history, surprises and delights. Visit Southampton and be sure to explore the Old Town, and prepare to be delighted at the Tudor House.

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a link with Jane Austen

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