Archive for the ‘The Pilgrim’s Way; Winchester to Canterbury’ Category

During my research of different pilgrimage routes in the UK and elsewhere, I came across this website http://www.greenpilgrimageeurope.net/ What interested me and encouraged me to read further was the mention of Canterbury.

Canterbury has been my final destination a number of times, it’s a fascinating city with an incredible history and I love visiting and exploring and especially passing beneath the West Gate at the end of my walks; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the Way of St Augustine (In 597AD, St Augustine arrived on England’s Isle of Thanet upon the instructions of Pope Gregory to bring the good news of Christianity to Kent, as Queen Bertha was already a committed Christian) and The Pilgrim’s Way.

the west gate canterbury
the West Gate Canterbury

The 119-mile (192km) Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury has been trodden by pilgrims for more than a thousand years but the origins of the pathway date back much earlier, to 1800-1400BC. The route was probably used for trade but after the death of St Augustine of Canterbury in 604, pilgrims started coming to venerate his remains at the Great Abbey. Canterbury also became an important stop for pilgrims making the long journey to Rome; Via Francigena.

After Thomas Becket was canonised in 1173, his shrine at Canterbury Cathedral became the most important in the UK. According to Christopher John Wright, author of A Guide to the Pilgrims’ Way, Canterbury was ‘after Rome… the chief shrine in Christendom’, and drew pilgrims from far and wide. Henry II is also said to travelled this route – as part of his pilgrimage for atonement for the murder of Thomas Becket.

a choral evensong service to commemorate Becket’s martyrdom
a choral evensong service to commemorate Becket’s martyrdom 29.12.2018

Pilgrimage is one of the fastest growing movements in the world, with more than 330 million people going on pilgrimage every year.  The vision of Green Pilgrimage is that pilgrims leave a positive footprint on the earth, and that pilgrim places become models of care for the environment.

pilgrimage to canterbury

Besides being the final destination for the walks I’ve mentioned above, Canterbury is often the starting point for those enroute to European Pilgrimage sites such as Santiago de Compostela in Spain and the Via Francigena to Rome.

I love what they say about the 7 stages of pilgrimage

Number 7 definitely resonates with me; although I’m not a religious or even pious person and believe in evolution rather than creation, I relish the challenges I face and find that yes, in ways that I sometimes don’t even notice immediately, I am always a different person at the end of each walk.

For me it’s the journey as well as the destination, and my stages of pilgrimage are:

1. Discovering a new pilgrimage that venerates a Saint I usually have never heard of and then learning more about them.

2. Researching and planning the route; usually gives me a series of headaches LOL but it is definitely enlightening.

3. Since I usually travel solo, my interactions are invariably brief and with strangers, yet each brings their own little story and memories of so many of these interactions linger for years, and I still think of certain people I met.

4. Understanding the story is usually where I am totally honest; I walk these routes because I love walking, adventure and discovering new places. If I’m not walking for a religious reason, does that make me less of a pilgrim?

5. For me this was about finding my ‘Camino’ eyes. A weird term until you realise it’s about suddenly realising you ‘see’ the signs along the way without having to search for them. This I have found on all my walks.

6. I definitely resonate with this; there is nothing I enjoy more than just looking around me and taking it all in – hence the number of photographs I take, and why my kms are way more than the stated distance – I have to explore.

7. I’m not so sure about the ‘should‘ recognise, but I definitely do recognise the differences. Sometimes they are emotional, or mental, but without doubt they include physical. With each walk that I do, along with the challenges they bring, I find I am more courageous and less fearful of what difficulties I may find along ‘the way’. I have overcome, and will continue to overcome the challenges.

There are so many different pilgrimages around the UK and Rep. of Ireland as well as Europe, and farther afield in Japan that I would love to do. I have added them to my vision board….and sent a telegram to the Universe.

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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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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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Not sure if this is relevant to my commitment to write 500 words a day, or if the subject matter is what The Quirky Coach had in mind, but here goes….basically it’s a rant LOL

A letter to AirBnB after another frustrating morning of searching for a specific location and getting ‘there are 271 locations in your area’ – uhmm, no there are not. For instance I did a search for ‘Aylesford’ – I got a list of 20 venues, none of which are in Aylesford, and some are as far away as Rainham, which is on the other side of the River Thames, closer to London that Aylesford and freaking 25 miles away from Aylesford!! What is the point of that.

I have been a member of AirBnB for some years now and have used it quite a lot. One of the aspects that I have found MOST frustrating is locating a place in the specific area I’m searching for.

Like if I type in Maidstone….(which is in England) I get suggestions of places that are absolutely miles away from what I am searching for.
I notice that on most of the venues, the location details are quite obscure….like it will search for Medway or London for instance. But the locations that are suggested by AirBnB are not linked to what I searched for, but ‘possibly’ in the same general county.

It would be really useful if the hosts could be more specific with their settings: like for instance if I search for a place in ‘Maidstone’ all places that are actually in the vicinity should have the word Maidstone in their description and I don’t have to scroll through each one to see where they actually are. The map is all very well, but it’s cumbersome and not always easy to use.

This has been a source of frustration for me every time I use AirBnb but yesterday and today I have been clicking on so many locations that are not anywhere near the actual town/city I want to stay in.
So if the host could say: Maidstone, Medway, England, UK – it would be really helpful.
Or Aylesford, Medway, England, UK and not just ‘Private Room in Medway’ for instance. Where in Medway. Its like saying a place is in ‘London’ Yeah right! London has 32 boroughs!!

And if AirBnB could fix their location settings so that when I search for Aylesford I don’t get venues in Rochester, or Bearsted, or just ‘Medway’ coming up in what is sometimes a long list of venues. It’s quite tiresome and very frustrating. As you can probably see from this communication.
Perhaps include a setting for search wider area for people who have cars or are not bothered about where they stay.

But as a long distance walker, I have to be in a specific location and not having to travel by train to get where I want to sleep over. If there is no venue in the specific name; like Aylesford (for instance), then rather just have a notification pop us that says ‘nothing available in this location, do you want to extend your search?’, with a km scale like up to 5kms or 10 kms, that would be awesome.
Thank you,

I’m trying to plan my walk along the Pilgrim’s Way and it has been an exercise in frustration…for some overnights, I’ve just given up searching and will take the train back to my ‘home town’, stay overnight there and train back the next day. It’s a mission, and will cost extra and some journeys are over 2 hours there and 2 hours back, but it’s either that or not at all. urgh LOL

So yeah, a bit of a rant, but hey….its part of my life and we can write anything we like – sorry guys LOL

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A friend of mine of Facebook set up a writing challenge for September 2020….the idea being to write at least 500 words a day, every day, for September 2020. As she said in her post, 2020 has been one hell of a year and it’s worth recording our thoughts and feelings…or actually anything at all you fancy.

In response to her post I said “I’m in”….and so here I am….my first post for September 2020.

I don’t usually like making these types of commitments because I like to just go with the flow, but since today I finally sucked in my breath and made a commitment to continue and finish (that’s the plan) my pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury, I figured I had better just get on with it and be disciplined!! Actually earlier this year, on my 65th birthday I decided that I should start keeping a diary. I have never been a diary person and the diary I started for my daughter began and ended with the words “my darling Samantha” LOL that was over 40 years ago, Shame on me.

I’m not sure why, but I find it sooooo very difficult to just sit down before bedtime and write a few words…..and so much has happened since then that I’ve mostly forgotten about, so I am somewhat disappointed with myself. But because I post to instagram just about every day, I keep thinking to myself…..”Oh, I’ll just check instagram and see what I said on this that r the other day” urgh.

Okay, so I just checked and I’ve only reached 250 words…..waffling on hahahha. Okay so 500 words is actually quite a lot, but hey…guess what, I started planning the 2nd half of the Pilgrim’s Way yesterday and today I booked the first 2 nights accommodation. It’s quite exciting and just a lot terrifying because I had to cut the journey short in 2018 after having 2 rather unpleasant falls. One was DOWN St Martha’s Hill near Guildford and the other was UP Box Hill on the way to Merstham. In both instances I hurt myself rather badly and by the day after I rather limped my way into Oxted and after waking the next day I decided to postpone (not quit) the final stages till I got my back and my leg sorted. That was in August 2018.

Of course since then my ever so beloved daughter has given birth to my absolutely delightful and much cherished grandson, and frankly, any thought of being away from him went out with the bath water!! I couldn’t tear myself away from this gorgeous baby boy, who is now nearly 20 months and an absolute charm….but much as it behoves me to be away from him during my work breaks, and much as I really just want to spend as much time with him as possible, I also need to get this walk done…..or it will be one of those things that I never complete…and my history is already littered with quite a few of those.

So here I am….and I have just reached 500 words. Hoorah!! So in conclusion, I shall bid you goodnight and see you tomorrow night with the next post…..keep me in check with this okay. I need y’all to stand behind me and give me a nudge if I don’t post something. Hope it’s not too boring LOL

Oh and p.s. why not join in….. 😉

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And so it came to pass, the time has come to part ways 😥😥😥 unbelievably I left my trusty companions behind on the Isle of Wight….seriously unbelievable. I walked past them at least 20 times since yesterday’s walk and again on my way out the door today at the start of my journey home. As I sat down on the ferry I suddenly realised I’d forgotten to pack them. Sigh. 🤪🤪 my daughter always tells me I’m unobservant…understatement. what??!!

We’ve travelled well over 3000 miles together in the last 4 years and I feel quite bereft that our parting has come about so abruptly. However, that said, they were wearing out (much like me) and I had planned to buy a new pair next month before completing The Pilgrim’s Way. Perhaps they knew that and decided to hide in the corner and sulk 😂😂😂

So goodbye my trusted friends, we’ve known each other through thick and thin, over hills (too many) and many a dale (mostly at the bottom of the next hill)….you’ve provided support through some tough times, helped me balance across rivers and streams, kept me from falling flat on my face when exhausted, and been there with me every step of the way. We were that close I even named them; Gemini, the twins.

Gemini – My walking poles

Hmmmm. Actually, now that I’ve just written their obituary….I miss them already and I’ve changed my mind….I had said to the family to drop them off at a charity shop but suddenly that feels rather churlish, so change of plan…I’ll ask them to post them to me. 🤔🤔🙄 You can’t just discard old friends in such a cold-hearted way…..

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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:

Prelude Day 1 – Revisiting the City of Winchester

Prelude Day 2 – Exploring Southampton

Day 1 – Winchester to Alresford

Day 2 – Alresford to Four Marks

Day 3 – Four Marks to Farnham

Day 4 – Farnham to Guildford

Farnham Castle

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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Thursday Day 10 – 30th August 2018 : Tonbridge to Broadstairs

Well here we are, Pepe, Gemini and I, on the train heading home.

long distance walks, women walking solo, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

on my way home

My leg is no better and when I lifted Pepe onto my back this morning I experienced that kind of red hot pain that leaves you breathless. So yes, time to head home to recuperate. Damaged but not defeated. I’m already scheming ways of completing this walk in the not too distant future. 😉😁

Ironically my sleeping bag arrived home today too. It was in the stars. One thing for certain, I am going to repack Pepe and anything that I didn’t use last week is coming OUT!!! I’m a bit of a ‘just in case’ packer, but I don’t think it served me well on this walk. Learning curve, I guess. But, on the plus side, I met a lovely Carer at the house last night and I’m certain we’ll become good friends. We have a lot in common and had so much to talk about. 😊😊 So onwards.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my journey along The Pilgrim’s Way; from Winchester to Oxted – hopefully to complete the journey in 2019. I may even redo the section I’ve already walked LOL – or not!!! In case you missed my previous posts…..

Setting off on my pilgrimage

Revisiting the City of Winchester

Exploring Southampton

Day 1 – Winchester to Alresford

Keep your eye on this space……I’m planning (hoping) to finalise my pilgrimage in April 2019

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Wednesday 29th August 2018 – Day 9 : Oxted to Tonbridge by train

backpacking, long distance walks, walking the pilgrims way. the pilgrims way winchester to canterburyMy penultimate instagram post : Tonbridge: Homeward Bound – Sometimes sooner than expected. So, after a day of excruciating pain in my lower right leg, and totally hobbling around, I’ve had to make the executive decision to head home for recovery. I can’t afford to cause more damage since I still have to work next month. If I continue along The Pilgrim’s Way after my day in Tonbridge, the following 5 days of walking are all in excess of 20kms and the last is 12kms. I know for sure that I’ll do more damage if I continue regardless. I’m good at endurance but have to be sensible too. Clearly the fall I had on Sunday did more damage than I thought and I must have been favouring my hip and my right leg where I fell on Box Hill is really swollen and very painful. So, disappointing as it is, I’ve cancelled all my accommodation for the next week and will get back to The Pilgrim’s Way over a period of time. Unfortunately my dates going forward for the rest of 2018 are not conducive to completing the way in one go, so I’ll look at dates when I get home and plan it over 2/3 stages and probably plan shorter days.  The only night’s accommodation I can’t cancel is the Canterbury date, meant to be my last night, it’s really disappointing to not be arriving as a pilgrim completing the way. I’ll take it up anyway (not too difficult to spend a night in Canterbury 😉) and work the rest of the route around my work dates. Urgh. But, as the Gambler said “You gotta know when to hold out, and know when to quit”. OK so I used poetic license there… But, cest la vie. Homeward bound for now, and back to the pilgrimage in the future. I may even start in Canterbury and walk backwards (not literally 🙄🙄) to where I am now 😂 😂 😂 Other people walk from Canterbury to Winchester, so maybe I’ll mix it up a bit and do the same. One thing this trip has done is give me a whole new perspective on certain aspects of life. But that I’ll blog about that later on. Thanks to everyone for your lovely support and encouragement, and sharing my journey. I’m disappointed at having to stop, but being a pragmatic person, I’m more concerned for my health. I’ve had a wonderful time so far, albeit unpleasant at times and some really difficult days, but I’ve seen some amazing places and met many wonderful people along the way, and thats what its all about. It’s the journey, not the destination. Anyway, it’ll be something for me to look forward to 😂 😂 😂

My coddiwomple has come to an end….for now!!

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And so it came to pass that I ended my pilgrim’s way in Hurst Green. When I woke in the morning, not only was it pouring with rain, but my leg was in agony. I could barely walk. So taking the easy way out I ordered a cab to take me to the station.

My training was in the afternoon in Tonbridge so I enjoyed a slow journey and once there I again took a cab to the Carer’s house which was conveniently also where the training was to be held. Settling into my room I had a short nap and put my legs up.

After the training I had a meal, a lovely hot shower and settled into watch some tv. Then to bed…..perchance to dream, but certainly to dream of the day when I can complete my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way backpacking, long distance walks, walking the pilgrims way. the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

My final day on The Pilgrim’s Way – for now

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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.

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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 🙂

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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
I made a short video you may enjoy

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