Archive for the ‘Domesday Villages of England’ Category

There’s so much to see and do in Lewes that I’m quite kept on my feet.

Today I set out on my 2nd attempt to find the river pathway and although I wasn’t successful, I believe I’m getting closer 🤣🤣🤣 Saw this on my walkabout

Egrets Way….

I initially followed the instructions from a local but I’m afraid it led me to a great big green field and a gate and although I can see from mapmywalk that I was close to the river, it wasn’t quite where I should have been.

However, I did go off at a tangent on the way back and discovered more of Lewes.

I walked along streets and lanes as yet untrodden by myself, and passed a couple of old favourites

And an old water pump

9.64 kms all told and slowly I’m reducing my 2020 Conqueror challenge deficit. 731.8kms to go by 31.12.2020 🤪🤪🤪

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Fantastic discovery today. I set off during my break, determined to find the river path. Instead I found Lewes Priory….or should I say, the ruins.

Lewes Priory

Like 99% of all the abbeys, monasteries, and priories in the country, Lewes Priory also fell foul of Henry VIII’s foul temper!!

Seriously, if I could go back in time, I’d go back to the mid-16th century and give him another whack on the head, maybe knock some sense into the man.

Imagine if he hadn’t destroyed all these amazing buildings, what magnificence we would see today.

But sadly we have to be satisfied with exploring the ruins and trying to imagine what they must have been like. But at least there are some remains to be seen. So little respect was shown for the historical value of the priory that the modern railway was run right over the chapter house. Listed as a Grade 1 building, it seems we have a little more regard for important places these days (although HS2 puts the lie to that 🤨🤨)

In the 11th century, monks traveled from Cluny in France to establish the first Cluniac priory in England. The Priory survived for 450 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537.

A number of interpretive boards give you an idea of what the Priory would have looked like and show snippets of how the monks lived and worked. A herb garden has been recreated, replicating the gardens worked by the monks.

Its fascinating to see how thick the walls were built.

The Helmet Sculpture by Enzo Plazzotta, erected in 1964 to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Lewes in 1264, is absolutely stunning.

The Helmet Sculpture

The Battle of Lewes

For a more detailed history of the Priory here’s the link to the main page https://www.lewespriory.org.uk/history-overview

And in case you were wondering….. Cluny is a commune in the eastern French department of Saône-et-Loire, in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. It is 20 km northwest of Mâcon. The town grew up around the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny, founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910. Ref wikipedia

Lewes Priory is a must visit if you’re in the area or perhaps walking the South Downs Way ….take a small diversion and visit the town, there’s so much to see.

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As mentioned in a previous post, on Monday I took myself on a walk to complete the ‘twittens’ of Lewes, after which I followed the High Street across the River Ouse to explore the other side of town.

To my absolute delight I found a wee church dedicated to St Thomas a’ Becket. Having just completed The Pilgrim’s Way a few weeks ago, this was wonderful little surprise.

St Thomas a Becket Church, Lewes

Of course I had to do some research and this is what I found ❤❤ Thomas a Becket actually visited Lewes at some stage!!! Oh my gosh just WOW!

St Thomas a Becket at Cliffe is a parish church in Lewes, encompassing the parish of All Saints. Becket was apparently a benefactor and frequent visitor to the nearby Collegiate Church of St Michael the Archangel, just a short walk away, which I visited just a few days ago. Totally weird to think that Thomas a Becket actually walked through the streets of Lewes. I never really associate him with more than Canterbury Cathedral, but of course he must have travelled to any number of cities and towns in England.

Collegiate Church of St Michael the Archangel, Lewes

Cliffe church, originally a chapel of ease of the college of Malling, was built, either…. so it is said, by the direct order of Archbishop Thomas Becket, to whose martyrdom it is dedicated. But it is also suggested that its building was financed by one of Becket’s murderers as a penance for committing an act of sacrilege, or by someone who witnessed the dastardly act but did nothing to prevent it.

St Michael the Archangel

So 3 options exist…I wonder which it is. If you’re interested in learning a wee bit more about the church, here’s a link https://st-thomas-lewes.org.uk/history/

Super awesome to discover Thomas Becket’s connection with Lewes, and completely unexpected.

Now, I really must get on with updating my pilgrimage, completing the 2nd half of the Pilgrim’s Way from Oxted to Canterbury.

It has however been so exciting to explore Lewes and discover her secrets, and I still have a castle and a priory to visit, as well as the north side of town. Oh and let’s not forget the walks I’d still like to do.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested, here’s a link to Day One : Oxted to Otford of The Pilgrim’s Way to Canterbury

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I recently arrived in Lewes for my next assignment (the benefit of working as a Carer is that although I’m away from home a lot, I get to visit some amazing places.

The day after I arrived I set out to explore and noticed that some of the lanes were named ‘twitten’ like Church Twitten for example. So i visited wikipedia and did some research – A distinctive feature of the centre of Lewes is the network of alleyways or ‘twittens’ which run north–south on either side of the High Street and date back to Anglo-Saxon times. According to the Dictionary of the Sussex dialect and collection of provincialisms in use in the county of Sussex published in Lewes in 1875 “Twitten is a narrow path between two walls or hedges, especially on hills. For example, small passageways leading between two buildings to courtyards, streets, or open areas behind”. Some twittens (e.g. Broomans Lane, Church Twitten, Green Lane, Paine’s Twitten) remain flint-wall-lined pedestrian thoroughfares, others (e.g. Watergate Lane, St Andrew’s Lane and renamed Station Street (formerly St Mary’s Lane) are now narrow usually one-way roads. The most notable of all Lewes’ twittens is Keere Street. A weekly Sunday morning run up and down all the twittens on the south side of the High Street – the so-called Twitten Run – has operated in the town since November 2015.

Hmmmm….tell me more. I love a good challenge and of course I’m currently following the Inca Trail virtual challenge so I did some planning and on Sunday during my break I decided to walk all the ‘twittens’ – I managed to walk along most of them and on Monday I walked the rest.

Along the way I discovered amazing places and hidden gardens. The twittens all run downhill, so there was a lot of downhill and up hill walking to be done LOL

First I walked along Rotten Row past the old Toll House from when the town was gated and near to where the Westgate was originally located – it’s no longer in existence unfortunately. I walked right to the end past the Lewes cemetery and left into Bell Lane and then left into Southover High Street where I passed the Anne of Cleves house, sadly closed atm due to Covid-19. There a number of wonderful old houses/buildings dating from the 14th and 15th centuries.

Still following Southover High Street I walked passed Southover Gardens and up to Bull Lane (off Southover Road).

From there I walked up Paines Twitten to the High Street then right and down St Swithun’s Terrace. Left again into Bull Lane and left into Green Lane up to Stewards Inn Lane where I turned right and then right again into St Martin’s Lane. Downhill all the way to Southover Road and then left into Watergate Lane uphill to the High Street. A lengthy walk later I turned downhill into Walwer’s Land and left into Friars Walk and after a quick visit to the church; All Saints,

I turned left into Church Twitten and uphill once again to the High Street. Last turn right into Broomans Lane back to Friars Walk and then back to the High Street and home…5.55 kms.

The following day I walked a total of 4kms to finish walking all the lanes and twittens.

Lewes is seriously cool and I wish I had planned to stay overnight for recreational purposes 😃 Maybe next time.

Meanwhile I have plenty more exploring to do, there are some fantastic dedicated walks and circular walks in the area. And so much history to discover….

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As I’ve mentioned before, in my job I get to travel and work all over the country. I consider myself very lucky to be able to do this, especially during these challenging times when a lot of people are struggling with lockdown and unable to get out much.

Travel is my opiate and I love discovering new places, especially if the history of said place includes a mention in the 1086 Domesday Book, or boasts a castle, or a Roman wall (anything Roman in fact makes me happy), or even just an awesome history. And Lewes has just about all of the above.

I arrived on 9th October which coincidentally was the 19th anniversary of my arrival in the UK and I was immediately smitten.

The narrow cobbled lanes, the quirky high street, and to my delight I spotted 2 very old buildings as we drove up the high street to my next assignment.

I had a choice of 2 bedrooms, either the 1st level, or the 2nd…I chose the 2nd level despite all the stairs because the views across the countryside are absolutely stunning, the hills are enticingly close – and I have a wonderful view of the sunrise…when it’s not raining.

On Saturday during my break I immediately set off to explore and walking along the High Street I first walked through the churchyard of St Anne’s Church. I noticed a row of 12 cast-iron memorials, early19th century; all for the same family, and of 10 children, 9 died before the age of 4 years…the youngest was 4 months old. Only 1 child survived till the age of 38. Heartbreaking. I’ve put a link to the church’s history because its absolutely fascinating.

Next I passed the Old Toll House which stood at the west gate into the city. The gate no longer exists and the toll house on Rotten Row is now a private residence.

I popped in at St Michael’s Church on the High Street but had to admire the interior from behind a thick glass ceiling to floor window. Closed due to Covid-19. Urgh. This damn virus. I love these ancient churches and always welcome an opportunity to visit.

Meandering along I suddenly discovered the castle 😃😃😃 I’d been so enchanted by the old medieval buildings, I’d missed the even older castle. But there it was. Unfortunately I couldn’t enter that day because I had neither mask nor money, but they’re open every Saturday, so next it shall be.

I explored the lanes and back paths on the north side of town and admired the views across the downs. Oh how much I’d love to walk those downs….soon. The autumn colours are just stunning.

I discovered quite by accident the old windmill apparently once owned by Virginia Woolf…awesome. The views of the castle from the back streets on the north side were stunning and I mentally kicked myself for not having money and a mask, the views from the castle ramparts must be stunning!!

From there I meandered along the High Street admiring the old buildings and taking dozens of photos (nothing new there then 🤭🤭) History plaques are attached to many of the buildings and give a fascinating glimpse into the towns varied past.

History plaques

I spotted a banner with a compilation of photos from the famous annual Lewes Bonfire Night event. I immediately kicked myself again 🤪🤪….this was something I’d wanted to witness ever since I read about it some years ago, but forgotten…on further investigation I learned that sadly, it has been cancelled for 2020 due to Covid-19, but I’ll make a note for future. From wikipedia: Lewes Bonfire or Bonfire, for short, describes a set of celebrations held in the town of Lewes, Sussex that constitute the United Kingdom’s largest and most famous Bonfire Night festivities, with Lewes being called the bonfire capital of the world. If you Google Lewes Bonfire videos, you’ll find some extraordinary footage.

I walked past the old Flea Market which looked very interesting and could have done with a bit of a wander, but again….no mask. You’d think that by now I’d be used to wearing a mask and remember to take it with me on my meanderings, but no….🤪🤪

The WW1 & 2 memorial looked absolutely beautiful

I made a brief sortie along the upper parallel lanes of the south side, but didn’t feel like walking back UP the very steep lanes if I went down…tomorrow is another day LOL

On my return to my work location, I hopped on to wikipedia and did some research. To my delight I discovered that Lewes is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book which brings the total number I’ve visited to 147!!! 😃😃

Reading further my curiosity about the ‘twittens’ was piqued. I’d noticed that some of the South side lanes had names like Church Twitten and I was intrigued. I’d never come across the word ‘twitten’ before, and I’ve visited dozens of old villages in the last 12 years.

According to wikipedia: the network of alleyways or ‘twittens’ which run north–south on either side of the High Street date back to Anglo-Saxon times. According to the Dictionary of the Sussex dialect and collection of provincialisms in use in the county of Sussex published in Lewes in 1875. “Twitten is a narrow path between two walls or hedges, especially on hills”. Well, how about that. Fascinating, and I learn something new every day. ☺ jm just amazed I’ve never come across the word before….surely twittens are not unique to Lewes!?

Lewes looks absolutely charming and I’m looking forward to exploring more thoroughly over the next 3 weeks.

A few snippets of history:

The Saxons invaded East Sussex in the 5th century.

Founded in the 6th C, the name Lewes is probably derived from a Saxon word, ‘hluews’ which meant slopes or hills.

In the late 9th C King Alfred made a network of fortified settlements across his kingdom called burhs.

Saxon Lewes was also a busy little town with weekly markets.
In the 10th C it had 2 mints; it was a place of some importance.

At the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 Lewes probably had less than 2,000 inhabitants.

The Normans built a castle to guard Lewes and founded the priory (small abbey) of St Pancras in Lewes.

Lewes was listed as a settlement in the 1086 Domesday Book with a recorded population of 127 households, putting it in the largest 20% of recorded settlements, and is listed under 2 owners.

St. Anne’s is a Grade One Listed Norman Church, on the medieval Pilgrim’s route from Winchester to Canterbury and built with pilgrim money.

In 1148 King Stephen granted Lewes a charter.

In the 13th century Franciscan friars arrived in Lewes.

In 1264 the Battle of Lewes was fought between King Henry III and some rebellious barons led by Simon de Montfort.

In 1537 Henry VIII dissolved the Priory. In 1540 Henry gave Anne of Cleves House to his wife after their divorce – however Anne never lived there.

The plague struck in 1538.

During the reign of Catholic Queen Mary (1553-1558), 17 Protestants from Sussex were martyred in Lewes.

The famous radical, Tom Paine, lived in Lewes from 1768 to 1774.

In 1836 8 people were killed by a snow avalanche.

The railway reached Lewes in 1846.

Lewes, in my opinion is a must visit

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From Oxted to Kemsing

Well,  you’ll be pleased to know I made it. Day 1 done & dusted. In lots of pain and my feet are very unhappy…not sure how they’re going to feel about doing this all over again tomorrow.😱😱🥺🥺🥺

So I left home at 6am on the dot  and got to Ramsgate station with 15 minutes to spare.
I reached Oxted at 09:25 and set about finding breakfast. I nearly slipped up and went to Wetherspoons, but left as soon as I realised my error 😣😣😣
After a coffee and toasted sandwich from Coughlan’s bakery I switched mapmywalk on and set off for St Peter’s church where I got my first Pilgrim’s stamp, then it was a hard slog along a horrible road till I intercepted the Pilgrim’s Way.

First destination was Chevening Park where I had to climb a bloody awful hill and then go back down again. From thereon the terrain was fairly flat. I finally reached Dunton Green where I stopped for supper at The Rose and Crown and had a delicious meal of fish and chips.

At just on 5pm I set off again for Otford, a Domesday Book Village, where I crossed the River Darent. What a delightful place. Picturesque with the remains of a palace where Henry VIII and Katherine if Aragon once stayed. The church and palace have links to Thomas Beckett.

Then I had to force myself to walk the final 4 kms to Kemsing & the Airbnb.  I’m aching from head to toe. But I did it 😃😃😃

Walked 26km, 10 hours including stops and saw so many amazing things. Lucky me.

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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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I decided to follow the #walk1000miles challenge again this year, particularly because I didn’t do much walking last year and because I really want to complete the Pilgrim’s Way.

With the weather what it is, it was very tempting to just snuggle under the covers and sleep during my break again, especially coz I am still so tired, but I resisted the temptation and set off yesterday for my 1st walk of 2020. I didn’t go far mind and only did 2.0375 miles….. so only 997.9625 to go 😂😂😂….and then I went back to the house and had a 45 minute snooze.

I was reminded once again that East Peckham has absolutely nothing to distinguish it (that I could see), besides being a Domesday Book village, and my walk did nothing to change my opinion. Although to be fair, there is a Hop House I could see, a few older cottages and the church, so I guess that’s something. But I do wonder why people actually choose to live in some of these places. Besides that its quiet, there is just nothing, and it’s miles from anywhere …..just why?

Something to ponder, but not to know.

I’m delighted that my daughter has decided to do some more walking this year as well and she’s joined the Facebook page. She also wants to focus more on her photography business this year, it will be an opportunity for her to get going again.

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After having to cut my pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury short due to an injury, I went home to rest & recuperate. However, I still had a booking in Canterbury that needed to be picked up. Unfortunately I couldn’t cancel the booking since I had already moved it once from 2017 to 2018….

But, staying in Canterbury is no hardship, so even though I was disappointed at not being able to arrive as a completing pilgrim, I still had my booking at the Falstaff to look forward to.

So on the afternoon of the 4th September, my daughter and I took the train to Canterbury. I checked in at the Falstaff and although it was disappointing to not be sleeping in a room in the older, more historic part of the hotel, to my delight I had the most amazing room you could imagine. It was huge!!!

the falstaff inn canterbury, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way from winchester to canterbury

my room at The Falstaff Inn, Canterbury – can I just move in and stay?

My daughter and I immediately made ourselves comfortable on the bed LOL

We had tea and chatted about life, my short pilgrimage, Canterbury and the baby.

To my absolute joy, the baby was very active that day and for the first time I got to feel my grandchild kicking away. I could enjoy that every day!!! 🙂 It’s such an extraordinary feeling. I’m so excited to be a Granny.

After resting for a while we walked into the centre of the city and went shopping. We found a fantastic baby carrier and I bought a lovely little puzzle for the baby. I love puzzles, baby’s Daddy loves puzzles , so I guess this little bambino will be learning how to build puzzles as soon as old enough to be able to puzzle them out.

I also bought a baby grow 🙂 too cute

We had a lovely afternoon meandering about the city…it’s so beautiful, then popped in at our favourite eatery….Eleto Chocolate Café for pancakes and tea.


this is one of the most heavenly pancakes I have ever tasted. clearly we do this fairly often LOL taken on another trip to Canterbury

After that I walked my daughter back to the station where we said our goodbyes…I felt sad at leaving her coz she was meant to have not only walked the last day of my pilgrimage with me, but was to stay the night in Canterbury. However, with her being pregnant and all, our plans changed.

I strolled back into the city centre, photographing things I have photographed many times before LOL….I can never resist. The cathedral grounds were open now and I walked around just enjoying the sheer beauty of such an extraordinary building. I hope to return sooner rather than later after completing my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way.

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As soon as it was too dark for photos. it was back to the room…time for a long hot shower, tea and biscuits and into bed to watch tv.

I had a wonderful sleep – The bed was so comfy I could have stayed there for a week. Bliss. After a lovely cup of tea and a lazy morning, I went down for breakfast and then packed up to leave……homeward bound.

And so ended my first attempt at walking The Pilgrim’s Way. I hope/plan to finish the walk in April 2019, but I am quite keen to actually just walk the whole length again from Winchester…..insanity!!! Have I forgotten Boxhill already???

In case you missed the start of my pilgrimage from Winchester to …….Oxted (as it turned out) – my journey started here:

Revisiting the City of Winchester

Exploring Southampton

Day 1 – Winchester to Alresford

Day 2 – Alresford to Four Marks

Day 3 – Alton to Farnham

Day 4 – Farnham to Guildford

Day 5 – Exploring Guildford

Day 6 – Guildford to Shere & Tanners Hatch

Day 7 – Tanners Hatch to Merstham

Day 8 – Merstham to Oxted

Day 9 – My journey endeth – Homeward bound


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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloTuesday 28th August 2018 Day 8 – Merstham to Oxted : 20.75 kms / 45,608 steps    elevation 309 meters

My early morning instagram post: Merstham: Morning all. I’m still alive LOL Had a really good sleep, feeling refreshed. Atm I’m relaxing in bed with a cup of tea. My hosts at this AirBnB are/were amazing, they’ve even left breakfast for me 😊😊 These images are from when I was at Shere where I ended my journey on Sunday. We didn’t have network or WiFi at Tanners Hatch so couldn’t share. Shere is gorgeous and definitely bears a return visit on a sunny day. I had lunch at the Dabbling Duck which was lovely, albeit very busy and they initially forgot to take my order. Shere is a Domesday Book village. As you can see it was just raining. I lost about 12 kms of the route on that day. Not a lot, but enough to irk me. I’ll have to come back another day and walk that stage again and probably break it down into 2. And I definitely must have more time to explore Shere.

It amazes me how quickly my body recovers with a good nights rest and a hot shower. My leg and coccyx were however still rather tender, but I wasn’t about to let them stop my pilgrimage. While enjoying my lie-in and cuppa, after posting some photos from the day before, I consulted the guide to see what lay ahead of me for the day.  Apparently “the original route from Mertsham to the top of the North Downs has been changed by the arrival of two motorways and two railway lines“.  So my slight guilt at not following the guide yesterday was dispersed hah!!

But first…Quality Street; once the main road to Brighton, is named after JM Barries’s play Quality Street in 1902.

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the famous Quality Street in Merstham

The famous tin of sweets, launched in 1936 by Mackintosh’s of Halifax to coincide with the release of the Quality Street film, had a bow-fronted shop on the lid similar to houses in the street, which include 17th and 18th century buildings. Merstham, is also, to my delight, a Domesday Book village of 1086 as Merstan; Its name was recorded in 947 as Mearsætham, which seems to be Anglo-Saxon Mearþ-sǣt-hām = “Homestead near a trap set for martens or weasels”. courtesy of wikipedia

I passed the Old Forge, a Grade II listed building, unfortunately partially blocked by a van, but nonethless quite awesome to see, as well as some other amazing houses.

the old forge merstham domesday book village, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo, merstham to oxted, the north downs way

The Old Forge, Merstham

After crossing the motorway I reached St Katharine’s Church which dates from c. 1220 and replaced an earlier church built c. 1100, it is however believed that there has been a church of some form on the site since c. 675 AD. In the grounds I met 2 ladies from Germany who were walking the North Downs Way. Before progressing, I popped into the church for a visit. Quiet by accident I discovered some fabulous brasses cleverly concealed by carpets…hah! I have a nose for these things.

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The route crossed a motorway, took me through a suburb and then into thick undergrowth, beneath the motorway (not decorated like the one yesterday), through some open fields anddddd….up the first of the hills I was to encounter today! A notice urged me to please keep to the North Downs Way…my pleasure 🙂

walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo, merstham to oxted, the north downs way

the only selfie I took on the whole 8 days LOL and I obeyed the request 🙂

my instagram post – Redhill: What was that they said about the way flattening out?? Just climbed 2 steep hills in quick succession. Urgh 🙄🙄 mind you the view is fantastic. So today I’ve packed the guide book away since the route from Merstham to Oxted follows the North Downs Way. Hoorah. Much better.

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North Downs Way

After reaching the crest of the hill, I met a lovely old gentleman and stopped for a wee chat, after which I stopped in a field for a few minutes of respite and then a lovely long lane beneath a tunnel of beautiful trees…..in the distance I could see the two ladies I had seen earlier at the church.

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going upppppp

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and uppppp

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goodbye friend 🙂 looking back downhill towards Merstham

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fellow pilgrims in the ditance

I had just reached a junction in the road when I looked to my left (for oncoming traffic) and saw to my delight a signboard for…….’Chaldon 1086′, whoo hoo.

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Chaldon AD 1086 – 🙂 a Domesday Book village

Another Domesday Book village. I had a quick look on mapmywalk to see how far the church/village was, and found to my dismay that it was a good long walk from The Pilgrim’s Way/NDW. But, since these villages are part of my Project 101, I decided to make the diversion (just on 1 mile away) and suck it up! LOL And boy am I glad I did. The church was FANTASTIC. I stepped through the door and found the breath-taking medieval painting; Ladder of Salvation, featuring a drunken naked pilgrim holding an empty wine bottle

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The Ladder of Salvation – a medieval painting in the church of Chaldon

– painted c. 1200, 30 years after the murder of Becket, when the church was in the care of Merton Abbey where the saint had been a pupil. On a pillar near the door there is a pilgrim mark in the shape of a T for Thomas.

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T – Thomas Becket – Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul, Chaldon

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As I walked around the church I thought to myself…”Oh I wonder if someone would be able to give me a lift to the top of the hill?” As I thought this 2 people entered the church. I said hello and carried on out the door. After strolling about the graveyard, I walked through the gate at just about the same time as the couple who arrived earlier. There was a blue van just in front of me…..the couple made for the van, and totally on impulse, the words popped out my mouth “any chance you could give me lift to the top of the hill?”…and what did they say?? Yes!!!! Oh my gosh. I was delighted. I hopped into the back of the van and sat on the floor amongst the detritus of a working man, grinning from ear to ear. The Universe delivered…big time LOL We had a lovely chat all the way up the hill, they were really interested in my journey. Wished me well & goodbye 🙂

My instagram post: Chaldon: Making good progress today . After climbing that hill earlier the way has indeed flattened out. I took a small diversion to visit Chaldon, a 1086 Domesday Book village and the parish church. Walking down the road I questioned my sanity…..going down usually means going back up again. Nonetheless, what an extraordinary church. The west end of Chaldon Church, dating from 1086, is covered with the Ladder of Salvation painted about 1200, thirty years after the murder of Thomas Becket, when the church was in the care of Merton Abbey, where Becket had been a student. While walking around the church, in my mind I was thinking “I hope someone with a vehicle visits while I’m here so I can ask for a lift back up the hill.” as I was leaving a couple in a van drew up, briefly popped in at the church (turns out they’re checking the lightening conductors in the county churches), so I asked them for a lift back to my route….. 😅😅😅 Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. A charming couple, we chatted as we drove and they saved me the long walk back. My prayers were answered and thank you to the Universe 🌌 😍 Where I rejoined the route I saw the very first Pilgrim’s Way sign 👏👏👏 which I would have missed if I hadn’t made the diversion. atm I’m sitting at the Harrow Pub and just about to tuck into a huge baked potato. I’m enjoying today 😊

They dropped off one very grateful pilgrim back at the junction and I set off once again, well pleased that I had indeed made the diversion. As I set off I looked up and noticed the sign board…..PILGRIM’S WAY Hoorah. One of the very FEW markings for the route, I would have missed this if I hadn’t decided to visit the church.

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one of the very few route markers for the Pilgrim’s Way that I saw the whole 8 days

If nothing else the route is varied!!! I passed the house mentioned in the guide: After Hilltop (left with a clock and a view) the way is alongside woodland and fields where I met a lady and her dog….we commiserated with each other as we tried to navigate the mud….the ‘way’ is not always conducive to an easy walk.

Not much further along, at a junction where I had to cross the road again, I spotted The Harrow pub and on impulse decided to stop for lunch. It was already 13.20 and I was HUNGRY!!! I ordered a baked potato with a peppery filling… it was delicious, albeit very spicy hot. wheww. My mouth was on fire. Oh and I had a beer 🙂

Refreshed and replenished I set off once again and passed a rather odd looking folly (probably why it’s called a ‘folly’). The way now took me along a tarmac road and along some lovely shady woodland paths.

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So beautiful. I didn’t see a soul for ages until just before 3pm when I met a young woman out walking her dog. We chatted briefly and then she went on ahead while I strolled along, just enjoying the peace and quiet.

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shady paths – a good place to rest for a while

The path once again was rustic, taking me through woodland and up hill and down dale…and then in a sheltered meadow I spotted a weathered wooden bench. Time for a rest me thinks. I offloaded Pepe and took off my socks and shoes, and lay down on the bench in the sun and just chilled. Bliss. Once again I hadn’t seen anyone for ages.

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a wonderfully peaceful place to rest

After a short rest I set off and shortly encountered the first set of steps (urgh).

The route took me through some beautiful woodland, England’s counties sure are pretty

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I love these benches; they offer stunning views of the countryside

and then…..I took to instagram again…Woldingham: And suddenly I’m on familiar territory. After lots of ups and downs and flats and twists and turns, I can see Oxted ☺️☺️ in the distance and to the left I can see the fields I used to walk along while training for last year’s Camino and briefly, for this years walk. Its been a hard day again, but thats mostly coz after 7 days of walking I’m now very tired, and not because it was just hell. Rest day tomorrow, albeit for End of Life training in Tonbridge. So, none too soon, I’m almost at the end of today’s stage. Show. Me. The. Bed!!! 😂😂😂

Just before heading down to the lower paths on the downs, I stopped off to rest on a bench I spotted about halfway down another flights of steps.

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I’ll be really glad to leave the steps behind. When I did reach the lower footpath I regretted my thoughts almost immediately….the path was very narrow and lined with scratchy prickly brambles.

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not a pleasant section of the route

The sun was beginning to sink behind the ridge and I needed to get a move on. From the guide book: “The path now goes downhill to a hidden kissing gate.” Hidden?? Hidden?? It’s bloody grown over with a thick bush of brambles. I had to bend over double just to get under the brambles. Getting through the gate, bent over double with a backpack on my back was not fun at all. I ended up with scratches all along my arms. Urgh.

Now I was on familiar territory. I had walked these oaths dozens of times before when working in Oxted. It was lovely to see these paths and fields again. I crossed the road leading into Oxted and then followed a familiar route up a short hill with the idea of sitting on the bench where I used to sit on my Camino practice walks. When I got to the top I was absolutely dismayed to discover that some vandals had destroyed it completely

It was so lovely to walk along paths I had so often walked along before. The fields are so lovely and I had seen them at different times of the year

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familiar fields….it felt so good to back walking this path

Oxted: Whoo hoo and hoorah. I’m standing on the Greenwich Meridian Line, ergo I’m just about to cross from the western hemisphere to the eastern hemisphere 😁😁😁👏👏

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crossing the Greenwich Meridian Line

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standing with one foot in the west and one foot in the east

I’m almost at my journey end, and now standing in the fields I could see in my earlier photo. I’m well ahead of time, so I’m going to walk part of Thursdays route just to save some time on that day, coz it’ll be a late start and nearly 20km day. – okay so this was not one of my brighter ideas. I followed the rutted road past Titsey Place

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walking past Titsey Estate – I’ve walked along here a number of times

and had to navigate a swamped area, passed under the M25 motorway and reached the B269. Under the best of times this is not a good road to walk along and I had in fact forgotten that this waited at the end of the route past Titsey Place. Nonetheless, there I was. It was busy. I spent the next 15 minutes dodging cars and trucks by jumping into the hedgerows lining the road. Finally, unscathed, I arrived in Limpsfield village

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Limpsfield, Surrey – a 1086 Domesday Book village

….my destination: St Peter’s Church.

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I love this little church and it holds fond memories…..it was the place where I got my very first Pilgrim’s stamp earlier in 2017 before my Camino along the Portugues Coastal Route to Santiago. I stopped off at the church to look around and stamp my passport and then walked back into Oxted. There are some stunning old houses in Detillens Lane.

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Limpsfield appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Limenesfeld

I soon reached Oxted Station and hopped on the next train to Hurst Green where I was to stay for the night at another AirBnb venue. After a short walk I reached the house, had a lovely cup of tea, some hot soup and bread, a long conversation with the host and then a shower and into bed. Hoorah.

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my bed…..hoorah

As soon as I was in bed I headed over to instagram for my update: Hurst Green: After 7 days of walking, here is my pilgrim’s passport and the stamps I have managed to obtain. Its very different to the Camino where just about every establishment, restaurant, cafe and refreshments stall (even ice-cream stands) have a ‘sello’. Most of the churches I visited along The Pilgrim’s Way don’t have pilgrim passport stamps. I left a message in their visitor books saying how nice it would be to find one when visiting. Most businesses don’t have them either…I guess email has made them obsolete. However, I’m happy with what I have so far 😊😊😊 a record of my journey

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My Pilgrim’s Passport – Day 1 – Day 8 🙂 Sadly not all the churches I visited had pilgrim stamps

From Merstham to Oxted along The Pilgrim’s Way. A good day. I met some lovely people along the route and enjoyed a number of interesting albeit short conversations. At the church in Limpsfield I saw in the visitors book that a lady from Greenwich passed this way on the 19th, also following the Pilgrim’s Way. 🙂 How cool is that!! That’s the 2nd person whose details I’ve seen in the visitors book in a church. And at journey’s end, a lovely host, good conversation, a cup of tea , a hot shower and a comfy bed….what more could I ask for? A leg that wasn’t absolutely aching, would be a start….urgh. I think that pushing that last few km’s along the Pilgrim’s Way past Titsey Place and onto St Peter’s Church was 4 kms too many. My leg was in agony and very swollen. I applied loads of my aloe vera heat lotion and took 2 paracetamol. With my leg raised against the wall, I lay back on the bed and contemplated just how far I had come.

I felt really good at how much ground I had covered, how many obstacles I had overcome, at the number of steps I climbed at Box Hill (for the record = 275 steps!!!) felt more like 27500!!! LOL I was looking forward to the training at head office the next day in Tonbridge, and a day off from lengthy walking and most especially from the bloody guide book. Other than that, I felt good. So glad to be walking the Pilgrim’s Way…a long held dream.


read about Day 7 of my pilgrimage along The Pilgrim’s Way click here
I made a short video you may enjoy

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