Posts Tagged ‘solo walking for women’

Now that the plans have been laid, and the bookings made, the excitement begins!! On waking up this morning my first thought was Oh My Gosh!!! it’s exactly 1 month to the day till I leave on my September ‘walking holiday’!! 31 days…

Although why it’s called a holiday is anyone’s guess since it’s hard work and not a relaxing pastime…well, it is relaxing some times, most times it’s just bloody hard work LOL and a holiday it is not! I usually come back from my long-distance walks exhausted and in need of a….you guessed it…. a ‘holiday’!!

But….whoaaaa 1 month! when I say it like that, it induces a sense of both terror and excitement. But I can barely wait for the time to pass so I can go already!!

Time to get excited

As you may well know from a previous post, I’ve done loads of research on the Northumberland Coast Path more recently and last year on Hadrian’s Wall (postponed to 2021 due to covid lockdown 2 days prior to my setting off) and I’ve scoured google maps to work out exactly how far it is from place to place so that I could plan my days accordingly.

Most days will be straightforward: get up, dress, eat, walk from here to there, eat, shower, hopefully blog, sleep and repeat the next day. But due to my accommodation issues, I’ve had to plan a couple of days where I will end at one point, take the bus to my overnight stop, then take the bus back to the previous days end point and walk to where I started…..sounds confusing eh! Yeah, it was and so I had to really focus on my day to day planning to ensure that a) I walked the whole route b) that I didn’t have days that were too long, c) that there were in fact buses from point a to b and back again.

And so it has all come together, along with a fair amount of stress, but I do believe I have done it.

Fortunately all the Hadrian’s Wall planning happened last year, so except for the 2 nights of AirBnb accommodation I cancelled outright due to the hosts not having the manners to reply to my messages, and that the route from all accounts is fairly straightforward, the plans for that walk needed very little adjustment.

So the gist of it is: 1st September 2021 I shall board the 10:07 bound for St Pancras, take a short walk to Kings Cross and board the train to Berwick Upon Tweed. I have planned 3 nights in BWK so that when I arrive I can explore the town, walk the town walls, visit the castle and walk to the border with Scotland at Marshall Meadows. I have also planned a day to visit Lindisfarne (Holy Island) but as a tourist, not a pilgrim (I’ll save that for when I walk St Cuthbert’s Way), then walk back to BWK from Beal thus covering the first part of the route, and a 2nd day for a visit to Bamburgh Castle and a part way walk to Seahouses, again to cover that part of the route.

Day 4 will be when I set off for real and cover those parts of the route I have not yet walked to reach my overnight accommodation.

By Day 7 I will have reached Cresswell, the end/start of the official Northumberland Coast Path, but I’m planning on walking right to the county border at Tynemouth on the River Tyne over the following 2 days which will add on another roughly 45 kms to my walk and cover the first half of Tyne & Wear which is a geographic and ceremonial county without administrative authority, and still part of the historic county of Northumberland, but neatly dissects that particular section of the English Coastal path from Northumberland to Durham.

From Tynemouth I will head inland along the River Tyne to reach Wallsend which is the official start of Hadrian’s Wall, and thence to Newcastle where I will be staying for 2 nights. I plan to visit the Newcastle castle, both the Roman forts; Segedunum in North Shields and Arbeia, a large Roman fort in South Shields, which belongs to the historic county of Durham, where I would pick up again when I continue walking the coastal path (sometime in the future).

Segedunum was a Roman fort at modern-day Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, England, UK. The fort lay at the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall near the banks of the River Tyne, forming the easternmost portion of the wall. It was in use as a garrison for approximately 300 years, from around 122 AD, almost up to 400AD. Segedunum is the most thoroughly excavated fort along Hadrian’s Wall, and is operated as Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum. ref wikipedia

Arbeia was a large Roman fort in South Shields, Tyne & Wear, England, now ruined, and which has been partially reconstructed. Founded in about AD 160, the Roman Fort guarded the main sea route to Hadrian’s Wall. It later became the maritime supply fort for Hadrian’s Wall, and contains the only permanent stone-built granaries yet found in Britain. It was occupied until the Romans left Britain in the 5th century. “Arbeia” means the “fort of the Arab troops” referring to the fact that part of its garrison at one time was a squadron of Mesopotamian boatmen from the Tigris, following Emperor Septimius Severus after he secured the city of Singara in 197. ref wikipedia

There is much else to see and do in Newcastle, so if I don’t get to see everything, I shall plan for when I return at a future date to continue my walk south along the Durham coastline, which also happens to be the shortest English county coastline. (p.s. did you know that Devon is the only county with two coastlines? – it straddles the Cornish peninsula, which happens to be the county with the longest coastline at 1,086 kms which would take me 54 days at 20kms per day to walk 🙂 ) love that kind of trivia!!

And on the 11th September, exactly 4 years to the day from when I set off on my Portuguese Coastal Camino, I will be walking from Newcastle to Heddon-on-the-Wall and my first overnight stop along Hadrian’s Wall.

I will be walking a total of 22 days including 7 days of exploring …..the longest walking ‘holiday’ by far that I’ve ever done….the Pilgrim’s Way the longest, albeit split into 2 different sections and walked in different years, which puts the Camino in the running for the longest continuous excursion.

Still not anywhere near the kind of distances that other people have walked….but, I’m getting there.

In the meantime I’m compiling a list of ‘things to see and do’ on both these walks and hope to get to do them all.

I’m keen to calculate my various days of walking over September to see just exactly how many kms I cover over the period. I’m going to allocate all the kms walked in August and September to the Kruger National Park Conqueror Challenge which is 412kms and aim to complete by the end of September so I can get the original medal that I signed up for. They changed the distance and medal subsequent to my signing up because people were complaining that the ‘street’ view was boring LOL I mean hellloooo It’s the Kruger Park….the street view is in a national game reserve and the animals don’t come out to play just because google is there. But we have until 30 September to complete the original challenge, so I’m going to do my best.

Kruger National Park virtual challenge
Kruger National Park virtual challenge

Countdown has well and truly begun…

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Stage 7 – Windsor to Maidenhead 12.06.2021 – 17.41 kms – 6 hours 05 minutes – 34,510 steps – elevation 40 meters

This stage was actually split into 2 really because I stayed for Trooping the Colour to see the Queen’s troops march past and of course my favourite the King’s Troops Royal Artillery…and I wasn’t disappointed. The whole affair was muted in comparison to previous years due to Covid-19 and we didn’t get to see The Queen or any of the Royal Family ride by in their carriages because the whole affair was held behind closed walls.

And so after a goodnight’s sleep I meandered down to the Long Walk and stopped to watch the procession of Troops. First The Queen’s Household Cavalry who looked absolutely splendid as always, then the Blues and Royals Cavalry who also looked absolutely splendid. The Footguards had already passed by the time I got there, and the Royal Artillery likewise. But I got to see them afterwards which is always a treat.

Trooping the Colour 2021
The Queen’s Household Cavalry
Trooping the Colour 2021
Blues and Royals Cavalry
Trooping the Colour 2021
King’s Troop Royal Artillery

We were also treated to a Red Arrows flypast which was well exciting, and I’m so glad I stayed for that…even though it was probably going to make me late for my evening train home!

Red Arrows flypast
Red Arrows flypast

Once the Red Arrows had gone I set off to find somewhere to recharge my phone coz the battery had pretty much depleted itself with all the photos and videos.

I ended up at the Three Store and before I knew what had happened I had upgraded to a new contract and obtained a new phone, a tablet and a speaker with alexa installed – how did that happen? It also took well over 2 hours to transfer all my media and phone information, so by the time I left Windsor, it was already 15:13….wayyy behind schedule now! And my backpack was a lot heavier than when I started the day due to having to stuff in all the equipment! I felt it.

So my km’s in Windsor amounted to 2.95km with 10,314 steps, and the actual walk itself was 14.46kms over 3hours 53 minutes and 24,196 steps (just to be specific). An easily manageable distance between bridges.

Setting off I made my way to the river and yes, I bought an ice-cream LOL It was already quite hot and I figured I may as well start the day off on a good footing – food wise. Anyway the ice-cream I had bought the day before was delicious, so I figured a repeat wouldn’t be a bad idea…the chocolate at least would give me energy.

From there I meandered upstream a short way and relaxed on a bench while enjoying my treat….it’s not like I wasn’t already well behind schedule… The swans gathered for a sample, but we agreed it wouldn’t suit their digestive systems, so I declined to give them any LOL

Gimme, gimme, gimme….no!

Windsor Bridge is at least an 800-year old crossing point, although the present bridge was only built in 1822, and the first arched bridge over the river. In 1736 is was possible to walk over alive for 2d, while being being carried in a coffin cost 6s 8d. Weird!!

Windsor Bridge

I eventually got myself moving, although I can tell you for sure, that I was not in the mood for walking…but needs must, so off I went – crossing Windsor bridge to Eton


I soon found the path and crossed a lovely wide open green space. Dozens of sun-worshippers dotted the grass, all very sensibly socially-distanced (technically we were still in lockdown, although you would never have guessed).

Socially-distanced – Windsor Castle in the background

The path soon reached a lovely shady stretch which was a relief since it was extremely hot that day.

Ahhhh shade!!

Just before I entered beneath the trees I stopped for one last glimpse of Windsor Castle. Windsor is derived from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Wyndesore’ meaning ‘winding shore’, which probably refers to the Thames’ twisting course. The castle began as a fortress by William the Conqueror, is The Queen’s main home and the resting place of many monarchs, including Henry VI.

I wound my way along the path, walking beneath shady trees, crossing small bridges over little inlets and creeks, passing under bridges and stopping to photograph the graffiti

Graffiti on the underpass

and meandering alongside fields ripe with crops. The sky was a gorgeous blue with white fluffy clouds lazily puffing by and a gentle breeze worked hard to keep me cool.

Through fields of green
This little river was ever so tempting, how much I would have loved a swim

I was on the lookout for a specific spot, a riverside seat known as ‘Athens’. Athens was an Eton College bathing spot where rules required that ‘boys who are undressed must either get at once into the water or get behind screens when boats containing ladies come in sight’. Mentioned in the guide book I was keen to see this notorious spot, but if it hadn’t been for the fact that I saw a gentleman leaning over looking at it, I would have marched right past! I stopped for a wee chat and hoorah! I finally met someone who was also walking the Thames Path, albeit from a different direction. I am sure though that there were likely others, but I just hadn’t met them. After a brief swapping of notes he went on his way, I captured an image of the rather obscure looking bench and went on mine…onwards, upstream.


Before long I reached Boveney Lock, ever so pretty and stopped to read the information board. Boveney Lock is set within the ancient landscape of Dorney Common. A dispute ove an unpaid toll in 1375 is thought to be the first mention of a lock at this location. In 1780 there are suggestions of a pound lock, and in 1820 various plans for a replacement lock proposed cuts to the mouth of Clewer Mill Stream because of difficult navigation of the tight bends downstream. The present location was chosen with a timber lock built in 1838. There is an avenue of chestnut trees, planted in the 1800’s that lead to the lock known as ‘Conker Alley’. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the Manor of Boveney was given to the nuns of Burnham Abbey in 1266.

Boveney Lock
Information boards enroute are so enjoyable to read

A short walk later and I reached the beautiful little 13th century church of St Mary Magdalene set back from the river in a field of green grasses. Built from chalk rubble, with a wood clad bell tower housing three bells, its only lighting; a candle (and sunlight). Its origins and history are something of a mystery, and in 1859 the churchyard was thick with gravestones, of which there is now no sign.

St Mary Magdalene

I stepped into the cool shady interior and stepped into another world. A calm air of simplicity enveloped me as I stepped through the door and honestly, I could have just sat there for hours…it was so beautiful and so peaceful.

I spotted the remnants of a medieval wall painting, the colours still quite rich.

Medieval Wall painting

It’s such a shame the purists managed to get their whitewash out, and literally destroyed thousands of these stunning wall paintings in hundreds of churches around the country. Fortunately modern technology has allowed for the recovery of some, but it’s costly and painstaking and not really affordable on the whole. I’ve visited quite a number of churches over the years where they have managed to recover/restore some of these works of art…a legacy we should be proud of.

Looking back

From Boveney Lock, the church is a very short walk upstream. The river was so calm and blue I was tempted to jump in for a swim LOL ….the cool green shady trees would have to suffice


A bit further upstream I spied a lovely building across the river but couldn’t discover what it was. Intriguing and annoying LOL A closer look at google maps tells me it might be Summer River House, but I can’t be sure.

I also spotted Oakley Court through the trees; (a riverside retreat with a golf course – tells you it’s most likely very expensive!!)…wow, it’s stunning. I shall have to go there some time by car. It’s very gothic looking with towers and gingerbread icing trimming and all. Uh yeah…I just had a look…£275 per night hahaha. In my dreams. The description on the website reads: Oakley Court is a Victorian Gothic Mansion House recently renovated and set in 35 acres overlooking the River Thames at Water Oakley in the county of Berkshire which features 118 bedrooms, 118 bedrooms just downstream from Windsor & Eton. Hah! Apparently Oakley Court was built in 1859 as a residence for an Englishman who hoped the Gothic Style would make his homesick French wife happy. General de Gaulle visited, and the building was used in the films: St Trinian’s, Half a Sixpence and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (my 2nd favourite film after Mary Poppins).

Oakley Court

The river wound it’s way lazily downstream and I wound my way sort of speedily upstream, although the river was likely a little bit faster I’m sure, passing through shady glades, alongside fields and islands, passing stunning houses and wondering just who can afford those mansions!!

I’m on the right path

The gravel paths are so much kinder on the feet than the metalled roads.

Without realising it I had walked right by Dorney Lake which featured in the 2012 Olympics and more recently the 2021 Oxford Cambridge Boat Race.

I passed a cycle route marker that told me I had 3 miles to Maidenhead – this was at 17:30 and I knew for sure that I was not going to make my ‘planned’ train at 18:30…oh well

Maidenhead 3kms

Looking across to Monkey Island I spotted a little gazebo through the trees and felt quite envious really…it looked so idyllic, and is apparently on the grounds of a rather grand B&B; Monkey Island Estate Luxury Hotel, and at £203p.n. not that much cheaper than the Gothic pile further downstream….but hey, it’s on an island. Monkey Island possibly means ‘monk’s island’ as it once belonged to Merton Priory on the River Wandle. In 1738 the Duke of Marlborough decorated the fishing lodge ceiling with monkeys!! A hotel since 1840, Edward VII and Queen Alexandra had tea on the lawn with 3 future sovereigns – George V, Edward VIII and George VI.

Looking across to Monkey Island

Passing through a private estate, once again I was overawed by the sumptious houses and the size of their gardens, mostly an array of resplendent colours; rose arbours, and creepers and flowers galore. Nice if you can afford it.

I could hear the hum and then roar of traffic ahead and looking at my map I realised I was soon to pass beneath the M4. Lockdown is essentially over really….we’re back to the business of polluting the air.

The next lock on the route, Bray Lock, soon hove into view and whizzed on by. I think they’re all so pretty and interesting.

Bray Lock – although it looks quiet and restful, the lock-keeper’s job is not – they are busy throughout the day.

Looking back I could see how the river split around the lock island and tumbled over the weir on the far side.

Looking back to Bray Lock

I was nearing Maidenhead now and I am definitely going to have to return to explore the opposite banks of the river…

The Thames Path

The Waterside Inn at Bray-on-Thames looked intriguing and their website tells me it’s: A unique riverside haven in a dreamy village setting, a revered restaurant with elegant quarters, just screams £££ – also very posh!! and a tad more expensive than the other two at £420 per night. Holy moley

The Waterside Inn

I could hear the traffic in the distance and all too soon I was walking beneath this beautiful red-brick railway bridge. Maidenhead Railway Bridge, completed by Brunel in 1839 carries the Paddington-Bristol railway line and appears in Turner’s 1844 painting Rain, Steam and Speed on the GWR

The Sounding Arch – Maidenhead Railway Bridge

A short walk later, passing some stunning houses

stunning houses and amazing gardens
how gorgeous is this house!!

and finally, quite exhausted from the heat and feeling the 2 days distance, I was crossing the river via Maidenhead Bridge.

Looking back across the river from whence I came
Looking downstream from Maidenhead Bridge towards the railway bridge

Hoorah! I had reached my destination for Stage 7…it was now 18:38, and with another 2 km to reach the station, I had definitely missed my 18:35 train, as well as the next 2 trains as it transpired… I was so exhausted by the time I reached Maidenhead that I simply could not walk any faster, and so I had to wait for the 19:35 train and got home at 22:45….

Enroute to the station I passed one of the 2012 Olympic Gold Post Boxes; painted to celebrate the Paralympic success of equestrian Sophie Christiansen….awesome that they still paint them gold.

Gold painted post box

This section of the river; Staines to Maidenhead is seriously gorgeous and I so enjoyed my two days of walking. Both days were super hot and I must admit I found it hard going at times, but the serenity of the shady copses, the extraordinary history and the sheer joy of just walking more than made up for it. Rural mixed with urban, land lubbers and canal boat dwellers, bridges and locks, historical sites and a castle made for a most interesting jaunt along the Thames. I am so looking forward to walking Stage 8 Maidenhead to Marlow & Stage 9 Marlow to Henley. Both easy distances, so I may jig them a wee bit and see if I can squeeze more kms out of the day and squeeze 3 into two and get as far as Reading.

Although Stage 7 wasn’t as laden with history as with the previous stages, particularly through London and Stage 6 to Windsor, it was still so interesting, and from what I have gleaned from the guide book, most of the history lies on the opposite bank from where the official path runs. It’s a bit like a switchback, the River Thames; an optical illusion where you think something is one side, but as you get closer you find it’s not.

Talking of the guidebook, all writing in italics is either from the guide book or google.

And that brings to a close the 7th stage of my Thames Path walk. I’m hoping to do another 2 stages before year end, but it’s looking tricky time wise…I’m still following the Saxon Shore Way and walking the English Coast Path from Dover to Rye in October, with my jaunt along the Northumbrian Coast and Hadrian’s Wall in September… so we shall see.

If you missed Stage 6; Staines to Windsor, click on the link to read more about it.

And if you really have the time and want to start at the beginning (a very fine place to start ) Stage 1a: Erith to the Thames Barrier

Wish you a fine day and happy walking….thanks for dropping by to read my lengthy jottings (definitely not on an envelope!) LOL

If you’d like to join me on instagram, you can find me @overthehillstilltravelling

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloThursday 23rd August 2018 Day 3 – Four Marks/Alton to Farnham : 18.8 kms / 40,128 steps elevation 125 meters –
This should have been a lot more, but for some reason map my walk stopped working well before Farnham and I didn’t notice till I stopped for pizza.

Started off early today so I could visit the Jane Austen house museum and church in Chawton. Wonderful. 3.02kms / 7,731 steps

Chawton was an absolute delight. I walked along to see the house where Jane’s brother Edward lived after he was adopted by the Knight’s and subsequently inherited. Unfortunately the house wasn’t open for visiting, but the church was amazing. So incredible to think that she, Jane Austen, walked through that very entrance all those years ago. Quite extraordinary.

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St Nicholas Church Chawton

The Jane Austen House Museum is so poignant and it was amazing to have been able to visit it. I enjoyed a quiet stroll through the house, having arrived just before a large group fortunately, so I was able to take some lovely photos. From there I walked back to the main road and took the bus to Alton. My time in Chawton had eaten up a substantial part of the morning and I had along way to go, and it was raining…..I’ll do a separate blog about the house

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Jane Austen’s House Museum, Chawton

I found a fairy house 😊😊😊 Saw this in Chawton after a visit to Jane Austen’s House.

walking the pilgrims way, map my walk, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, domesday book villages, day 3 alton to farnham

a fair house in Chawton

In Alton my sleeping bag and I parted company. I’d managed to sort accommodation for the 3 outstanding nights, so sent it home. Never has the expression ‘a weight off my shoulders’ meant exactly that!! It cost more to post it than what I paid for the blessed thing. 🤔🙄🙄

I stopped for lunch in Alton before visiting St Lawrence Church. It was raining when I left the AirBnb this morning, but the sun came out just after midday, so I was looking forward to a good day. I felt more energetic today than yesterday.

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lunch in Alton

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Today I ‘hit the hills’ OMG…up and down and down and up in a never ending climb. I saw some fantastic houses and stopped off in some stunning churches, but holy moly….the camino wasn’t like this..although Spain got quite hilly, it wasn’t till after I had been walking for 6 days!!! I had a chance to aclimatise! Truly this day wore me out 😦

The villages along the route are a delight!! So many quaint little houses; those picture-postcard houses you see…..just stunning.

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In Holybourne I stopped off at the Church of Holy Rood, dating back to the 10th century. Unfortunately it was closed but there was a lovely big pond or “bourne” nearby with a bench, so I stopped, took my shoes and socks off and stretched out for an hour while I chatted to my daughter back home. The joy of whatsapp 😉 It was so peaceful and relaxing with chimes hanging from the branches of the trees gently tinkling in the breeze and ducks and wild birds flitting about. Heaven. Before I left I briefly meandered through the village….stunning houses…oh my gosh.

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The church in Holybourne

walking the pilgrims way, map my walk, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, domesday book villages, day 3 alton to farnham

my resting spot for today

Then back to the route which was a varied as you could imagine……

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Just before Upper Froyle I saw there was a pub (off the route – a long way off the route!!); The Hen and Chicken, at the bottom of the hill and decided to stop there for lunch. I arrived ordered a coke and a plate of hot chips. The coke was delivered quite quickly and then I waited and waited and waited….no chips. Eventually I went up to the counter and asked when they were likely to arrive…only to be told by the dim-witted girl behind the counter who was too busy flirting with the men who were arriving during the 45 minutes I waited…that Oh I didn’t realise you wanted food!! FFS. How often do you have to say “and a plate of hot chips please” for it to penetrate the fog? I was so angry. Not only was I still hungry, I had wasted nigh on an hour and I still had to climb back up the blasted hill to return to the route! Gahhhh.

I very grudgingly retraced my steps and soon reached Upper Froyle where I stopped at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary. There has been a church on this site for over 1000 years, and parts of the building date from the 1300s. The interior is beautiful. I absolutely love these old churches and am quite addicted to visiting them.

Not long after that I walked past Pax Hill (Peace Hill): near Bentley was the family home of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement, and his wife, Olave

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Paxhill –

Bentley was the next village up where I stopped at the 12th century St Mary’s Church for a bit of respite. I quickly popped into the church then sat in the yard for a rest,  after which I walked along the path to see the ancient yew trees mentioned in the guide book. Phenomenal. The life-span of Yew trees stretch back into pre-history with some of them reaching a girth of 6m or more.

walking the pilgrims way, winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, st marys church bentley

awesome Yew trees

walking the pilgrims way, map my walk, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, domesday book villages, day 3 alton to farnham

double-canopy ancient Yew trees propped up in the churchyard in Bentley

After that I went on a fruitless jaunt to find something mentioned in the guide book, and ended up doing a completely wasted effort and a lot more walking than I wanted!!

I passed from Hampshire into Surrey quite late in the day; the sun was beginning to sink towards the horizon

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19:26 sunset on day 3 – I was hoping to see more sunsets actually, but mostly it was cloudy

shortly after this I saw another sign: St Swithun’s Way and got really excited…totally forgetting that I walk at a pace of 4kms an hour when I’m not exhausted, and don’t have a heavy backpack on!!! Sob Sob It took over an hour before I reached Farnham

walking the pilgrims way, map my walk, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, domesday book villages, day 3 alton to farnham

Farnham!!!! – still a way to go

Not long after passing this sign I crossed the county boundary from Hampshire into Surrey….

walking the pilgrims way, map my walk, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, domesday book villages, day 3 alton to farnham

looking back ……I crossed from Hampshire into Surrey under that tree at 19:40

I passed a group of cows having dinner and was soon in the precincts of Farnham.

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….till the cows come home

I had a fantastic, albeit very tiring day – saw awesome churches, gorgeous historical houses, got 2 stamps for my passport and went on a couple of fruitless jaunts to see things mentioned in the guide, that I couldn’t find….even the locals had no freaking idea what I was talking about 😳🤔🤔🤔

And then: Farnham – Finally!! I reached Farnham!!! I couldn’t believe how long it took.  Making my way downhill I sat down, or should I say almost sank onto the floor in exhaustion, in Pizza Express at exactly 9pm. I don’t usually drink coke, but I can tell you that I desperately needed a sugar rush…. it was a hard day (who knew England had so many bloody hills!!!) I’d been walking in the gloaming since 20:11 literally right after I took the photo of the cows 😂 😂 😂 but thankfully I had my reflective night gear on so I was visible along the gravelled, very uneven, unlit, and steadily darkening roads – I didn’t see a soul for well over 2 hours before I got to Farnham and for much of the way I stumbled along in the dark 🙄🙄🙄 But I made it. I passed Farnham Castle on the way in, it looks awesome. Will have to visit tomorrow.

While having pizza I did a google map search for my accommodation and discovered that earlier when I arrived, I had unknowingly walked right past the place where I was to stay for the night 🙄🙄 and I was so tired I couldn’t bear the thought of having to walk back up what was a steep hill. After pizza, I decided to get a taxi to my AirBnb and getting to bed 🛏️ as soon as possible…but it was not to be….I called for a cab to take me back up the hill. There was a 45 minute wait and it was already 9.40 pm so I pulled on my big girl panties and started walking back uphill. But when I got to the turn off it was absolutely pitch dark and I couldn’t see a thing. So in desperation I phoned the cab company again and I think the controller could hear the despair in my voice coz she sent me a driver immediately. However, when he got there he refused to drive me coz the roads were gravel and he didn’t want to damage his car. 😩😩 ffs.

Anyway after 5 minutes of serious persuasion he let me in the cab and driving slowly we trundled up the hill and to my destination… Arrived just before 11pm. 😳 Holy moly. Ridiculous. Thankfully my hosts had been out for dinner themselves so were still up and happy to wait for me to arrive! So embarrassing.

My bed for the night.

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my delicious bed 🙂 – AirBnB delivers again

I was so relieved to finally get to my Airbnb I would have slept in a stable, but fortunately I had this gorgeous bed to fall into. Quick shower and into bed 😴😴😴😴

Goodnight all. Catch up with you tomorrow.
A short video of Day 3 along the Pilgrim’s Way

In case you missed Day 2 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way 

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloTuesday 21 August 2018 Day 1 Winchester to New Alresford : 11.94km / 40,690 steps elevation 114 meters

Sooooo excited today!! I feel quite boisterous LOL. I didn’t start off too well though….got myself ready real quietly so as to not disturb my host, checked to be sure I had everything packed, and that the room was clean and tidy…managed to get Pepe onto my back without knocking anything over, got my shoes on and crept quietly out the flat, dropped the key carefully through the letterbox slot, heard it land on the floor…turned around to start walking and…..whattttt????? noooooo!!!! I’d left my walking poles in the bedroom. OMG my heart!! sank right down into the tops of my shoes. Seriously Cindy WTaF?? My horror was unbounded. Now what? I stood there with the hair standing up on my neck and wondered “what to do, what to do?” Well, as much as I was totally reluctant to wake her, there was no option…..I rang and rang the doorbell till she woke up. The sight of her tousled hair and sleep-filled eyes made me feel like a complete idiot. Oh my lord, I felt absolutely mortified.

Poles in hand, apologies trailing behind me I finally set off and decided that if I left anything else anywhere I would just kiss it good bye LOL Taking a quick walk through the streets I hurried as best I could, now well behind schedule as I wanted to catch the 9am train to Winchester….I don’t hurry well with a backpack on!! Got to the station with literally 2 minutes to spare and a long queue for the ticket office. Cue regret for not buying my ticket the night before!!! Urgh. Anyway I pleaded with the woman in front of me who wasn’t catching the train that day and she let me in…got my ticket as the train pulled in to the station and then I ran…slipping on as the doors closed behind me. Whew! Made it 🙂

What a joy to arrive in Winchester again. Of course I had to take a quick walk past the Great Hall, the West Gate and 15th century The High Cross aka the City or Butter Cross, then I almost skipped to the cathedral I was so excited! Followed the avenue of trees and there it was, looking gorgeous. Excitedly I made my way to the ticket counter, pulled out my pilgrim’s passport and voila!! my first stamp as a pilgrim about to embark on my journey along The Pilgrim’s Way – Winchester to Canterbury.

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A lovely gentleman came over and gave me a short tour of the cathedral, took some photos, gave me a viewing of the medieval paintings in the 12th century Holy Sephulcre Chapel, and directed me to St Swithun’s Shrine where I sent a small prayer to the Universe for safe conduct and lots of adventure and discoveries. I visited the crypt (pretty awesome) then lit a candle in memory of my Mother (Marjorie), Mother-in-law (Dixie), and Father (Derrek), took a few last photos and on my way out, one of the Chaplains said a blessing and sent me on my way with lots of cheerful waves

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And I’m on my way, Winchester to Canterbury……with a final glance at the cathedral, I set off. First a quick visit to St Laurence Church then following the directions in the guide I made my way out of the city and along The Pilgrim’s Way. Whoo Hoo. My mood was exhilarated and excited and full of joy.

The route is unbelievably varied; initially following city streets and then through the suburbs, I passed the ancient site of Hyde Abbey (destroyed by Henry VIII)

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site of Hyde Abbey destroyed during the Reformation

St Bartholomew’s Church (I forgot to get a stamp grrr)

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St Bartholomew’s Church, Winchester

and suddenly I was into countryside and a nature reserve. From here on the terrain was quite simply gorgeous.

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Passing through King’s Worthy, Abbot’s Worthy then Martyr Worthy I soon reached Itchen Abbas. Crossing the River Itchen I reached Avington Park where Nell Gwynne (that other Charles’s mistress) lived. I meandered up the drive (it’s very long) hoping to visit the house but didn’t see a soul about. The front doors were open so first I put my nose through the door, not a soul about, and before long (like maybe 10 seconds) my whole body was through the door and walking around. LOL I still didn’t see anyone…but on my word…the room wow!!! fabulous. I thought I might chance the stairs, but caution prevailed, and instead I walked around took a few photos and left. Before heading back to the pilgrim route I strolled across the lawns and enjoyed the green and shady trees.

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Reaching the road again, I headed up towards the golf course where I saw one of the most welcome signs you can imagine: Walkers Welcome 🙂 yayy, just in time for 4pm tea. I stopped off to use the facilities, had a cup of refreshing tea, a piece of delicious cake, by now I was really feeling the heat, and the shade of a tree was most welcome.

Although it was a truly beautiful day, and made for some fabulous photos, it was very hot and personally I would have enjoyed a light rain. 😂 😂 😂 😂 (be careful of what you wish for! sometimes the Universe gives you what you want…not necessarily at a convenient time or day!!)

Oh my word….England is soooo quaint. I passed some of the most gorgeous houses…total house envy!! The route today was fabulous, mostly very flat for which I was grateful.

Scenes from today’s walk along The Pilgrim’s Way:

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Church interiors- I visited 6 churches in total, some had a pilgrim stamp, others not – all without doubt amazing:

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Finally I got to say “I’ve arrived at tonight’s destination after a very long and hot walk, then stroll and finally a stagger along The Pilgrim’s Way”. I’d visited some amazing churches, met loads of people along the route, had some interesting conversations and seen some beautiful places. I met up with the lady who was to open up the Church Hall for me, and oh my word…I was blown away. She very kindly gave me a sleep mat, an air mattress, a pillow and a towel. I could have cried with gratitude. I then sat out under the trees, enjoying the peace of the graveyard and the colours of the setting sun, and enjoyed my dinner of fish and chips and mushy peas.

New Alresford: I’ve dined in some interesting places, but not yet in a graveyard 😜😜

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a first for me …..eating dinner in a graveyard – First time for everything 😂 😂

I was so amazed at the varying terrain of the route….

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take your pick……The Pilgrim’s Way, The Watercress Way, Allan King Way, St Swithun’s Way, The Itchen Way

The route along the first few days is a mix of 5 different ways; St Swithun’s Way, Itchen Way, Watercress Way and the Pilgrim’s Way, along asphalt, gravel paths, woodland, narrow winding paths through copses of trees, crossing the Itchen River a few times, and fighting my way through an overgrown tangle of scrub, shrub and weeds. Roughly 12-14 kms. Its a lot harder than the start of the Camino last year. But I’ve made it. Hoorah. Thankfully tomorrow is a shorter day (or so I thought).

My bed 😂😂😂 I slept in the church hall at Alresford and they kindly loaned me a mat and air mattress and a pillow…oh the luxury of a pillow.

take your pick......The Pilgrim's Way, The Watercress Way, Allan King Way, St Swithun's way, The Itchen Way, walling the pilgrims way, winchester to canterbury, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, quintessential england

my bed for the night

I was quite comfy. The church is beautiful and I had my passport stamped. Mostly the stamp was attached to the wall with an ink pad nearby and you just stamped your own passport. As I did last year on the Camino, I left a small donation at each church.

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my Pilgrim’s Passport – Winchester Cathedral 21 August 2018 (the chap made a mistake and dated it 12th 🙂 urgh

End of Day 1 on The Pilgrim’s Way – totally amazing.

A short video of my journey from Winchester to Alresford

In case you missed my prelude to my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click for

Prelude – Day 1 Revisiting the City of  Winchester

Prelude Day 2 Exploring Southampton

Visit again next week Thursday for Day 2 of my walk along the Pilgrim’s Way

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