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Posts Tagged ‘walking in england’

Stage 5 : Hampton Court to Staines-Upon-Thames 24.04.2021 – 25.16 kms – 6 hours 47 min – 40,560 steps – elevation 43 meters

Hot on the heels of Stage 4 between Richmond and Hampton Court, from here on I was breaking new ground. Except for brief forays along the banks of the Thames at Windsor, Oxford, Henley-on-Thames and Reading when visiting those places or working there, I have never walked along the banks of the river beyond Hampton Court. A whole new adventure awaited; places to go and things to see!

As mentioned in Stage 4, it was now taking longer and longer to get to my starting point and the train tickets were getting to the point where it would cost more or less the same to stay in an AirBnb overnight as pay for a daily ticket. So after this stage I will continue my journey in 2 day increments or more…probably a 4 day stint would be good at some stage.

I arrived at Hampton Court Station just after 10:40 having discovered via a very helpful station assistant in Ramsgate, that if I bought a same day return, I could in fact leave before 09:35, and also…today was Saturday, so I could leave much earlier than usual; which I duly did.

Walking the Thames Path
Good morning Hampton Court Bridge

Because it was still relatively early I decided to have a short excursion onto the little promontory for a quick sandwich and some tea; Cigarette Island Park, juts out into the Thames and offers superb views of the river and the palace. Not sure I like the name of the park…but still, it’s pretty and cool and green.

Walking the Thames Path
Fab view of the palace and river for breakfast

Now in East Molesey on the south bank of the Thames, after my tea and yum yums, I set off into the wild blue yonder…what will I find? First off some photos of the area, and a brief history…Hampton Court Bridge was opened in 1866 at the expense of a local man who lived in the area, Thomas Newland Allen (his coat of arms adorns the bridge). Originally a toll bridge, allowing Mr Allen to recoup his outlay, it was bought by the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1876, and the toll was lifted…I believe the locals were pleased – the National Anthem was played by the band of the 3rd Surrey Militia and there was a firework display!! I can’t imagine them doing that today!!

Walking the Thames Path
East Molesey – I just love this little house/store
Walking the Thames Path
Coat of Arms – Thomas Newland Allen. Love this design

Looking across the bridge to the Mitre Hotel (I had tea and scones with jam and cream there one day), I was reminded of the history of the hotel : the all new Mitre Hotel where quirky British sensibility meets elegant authentic luxury on the banks of the Thames…as it says on their website 🙂 Origins date back to the reign of Henry VIII. The building has been reconstructed since 1665 and is Grade II Listed as a mid-18th century edifice by Historic England. It is widely reported that The Mitre was built in 1665 at the direction of Charles II as a ‘hostel for visitors to the Palace’. The Mitre is on the site of The Toy, which originally stood on the opposite side of the road, near the Trophy Gates of the Palace… and is mentioned in 1653 in the Parliamentary survey of Hampton Court as a Victualling House. This house was famous for the convivial meetings held there by the “Toy Club”, of which William IV, then Duke of Clarence, was President. ref wikipedia

Walking the Thames Path
Mitre Hotel

Moving on, within a few paces I encountered my first lock of the day; East Molesey.

Walking the Thames Path
Molesey Lock

A stone’s throw from Hampton Court Palace is Molesey Lock, built relatively recently in 1815 by the Corporation of London. Before this lock was built, Hurst Park (on the south bank by the lock) was known as Moulsey Hurst. During droughts, the Thames was liable to become too shallow for river craft to pass through. The heavily laden barges were held up, sometimes for weeks at a time while the bargemen waited for the weather to turn. When it did, the higher water levels allowed the barges to float through. The lock’s 1905 rebuild was carried out to accommodate the long 200ft naval craft built at Platt’s Eyot, just upstream of the lock. Between the 1800s and early 1900s, Molesey was probably the most popular lock on the Thames – on summer Sundays. ref their site

Walking the Thames Path
Molesey Lock

I was ever so lucky to have another fine spring, almost summer’s day with blue skies, puffy white clouds and a soft breeze that kept me cool for most of the day.

Walking the Thames Path
Lovely open pathway makes for easy walking

Heading towards Walton-on-Thames, the path is wide and very rural. I don’t often have ‘house envy’ having already owned a couple of houses back in South Africa and all the accompanying headaches, but oh my word….look at those houseboats! whoa. It looks heavenly, although I’m sure it’s probably quite noisy living on the river.

Walking the Thames Path
Fab.U.lous houseboats

Again I was enchanted by the fabulous cherry blossoms and the many bluebells along the route. They really are gorgeous, just a shame they don’t last long.

Walking the Thames Path
Cherry Blossom 🌸
lots of wonderful bluebells have flowered along the path…

I passed alongside Hurst Park and stopped briefly to look at what to expect ahead

Walking the Thames Path
Hurst Park – you are here! 😃 – heading upstream, river to my right

A little further on and I was amused by the antics of a little browney beige dog. He was splashing around in the river, then bounding out, running ahead of his entourage, hiding behind overgrowth on the river banks and when his ‘servants’ neared, he would bound into the river, splash about and jumping out run ahead and do the same all over again. It was ever so cute and went on for quite a while. He had so much fun! Lucky dog, I wished I could just jump in and splash about….approaching midday, it was getting quite hot.

Walking the Thames Path
Cute dog 🐕😍 had so much fun

At the next Thames Path direction marker, I could see Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare across the river. I worked in Hampton once some years ago, so had the pleasure of visiting that little park on one of my many walks. Nearby is Garrick’s Villa where he lived : David Garrick became the lessee in 1754 and then bought the property in October that year, making it his country retreat and a place of recreation where he and his wife frequently entertained their friends. He embarked on extensive alterations inside the house and, either now or at a later stage, employed Robert Adam to re-design the facade in the classical style then in vogue. The house has a fascinating history if you’d like to learn more.

Walking the Thames Path
Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare

The path runs alongside the river here without too much urbanisation, but with terrific views across the waters to Hampton. Garrick’s Ait on my right, I could see St Mary’s Parish Church across the river.

Walking the Thames Path
St. Mary’s Church, Hampton

Not much further along and I discovered the remarkable Memorial Sundial in Buckingham Gardens in West Molesey. I spent some time here reading as many of the plaques as I could see. The sun was right overhead and almost blinding, but it looks absolutely fascinating. Did you know that the Vikings sailed this far up the river!?? Apparently to raid Chertsey Abbey! Wow. Seriously, after all the stuff I’ve read about the Thames and London etc, I never knew that they travelled so far inland. I have not been able to find much information beyond this website about this amazing memorial, but there are some super images on the web.

Walking the Thames Path
Memorial Sundial West Molesey

Hurst Park has a fantastic variety of wild life; fish and birds in particular. The river upstream of London is so much healthier for them.

The path too is super, wide and open albeit without much shade, which is always appreciated on a hot day. I got sunburned despite lashings of sunscreen.

Walking the Thames Path
So easy to follow…

A little further on and across the river from me was Platt’s Eyot, which sadly just 10 days later suffered a terrible fire that destroyed the warehouses and boat yard. Sadly one of the boats destroyed was one of the last remaining Dunkirk evacuation vessels.

Walking the Thames Path
Platt’s Eyot – no idea at the time it would burn to the ground in just a few short days

I loved all the canal boats tied up alongside the banks of the river…it must be such a different lifestyle living on a boat on the river. I think I’d like to try it out for a few months at some stage – perhaps when my grandson is older, then he can come visit and stay too ☺💙

Walking the Thames Path
Loved the canalboats…so quirky
Walking the Thames Path
Lots of trees…no proper shade

Although you can’t really see it from the Thames Path, to my left are a lot of bodies of water…the Molesey Reservoirs Nature Reserve, Queen Elizabeth II Storage Reservoir, Bessborough Reservoir, Walton Advanced Water Treatment Works and Island Barn Reservoir, and across the river Sunnyside Reservoir and the Thames Water Hampton Water Treatment Works…..I was ignorant of all until I started looking at my photos on google maps LOL.

There are a lot of islands along this stretch of the river…and locks, and weirs. The path is well marked and you will see frequent direction markers.

Walking the Thames Path
Ya can’t get lost!!
Walking the Thames Path
Secretive islands. That water looks incredibly tempting!

Next up was Sunbury Lock and weir. First built in 1812 Sunbury Lock is a lock complex of the River Thames near Walton-on-Thames, the 3rd lowest of 44 on the non-tidal reaches.

Walking the Thames Path
Sunbury Lock

I do love the lock masters houses! They are so pretty and so quaint. I spent a few minutes at each lock and for sure it’s a busy job being a Lockmaster! One of the qualities you would truly need is patience!! Did you know that they’re on duty from 9am to 6pm each day with an hour for lunch between 1pm to 2pm!.

Walking the Thames Path
Sunbury Lock..such a quaint house

I didn’t stop much along this stretch and I didn’t take many photos…mostly because the scenery was much the same; a long open path, few trees, and the river. A rare spot of shade and a bench…time for break

walking the thames path
the guardians of the path – I really enjoyed the Thames Path along this section…wide and easy walking
Walking the Thames Path
A bench is always a good place for a rest..

There are a lot of really fancy houses along this stretch, on both sides of the river, some with gardens that stretch right down to the waterside. Oh and a pub! I was tempted to stop for a coke, but since I had refreshments I carried on till I found a bench under a shady tree and stopped there.

Walking the Thames Path
The Weir Pub – tempted to stop for a coke
Walking the Thames Path
The Weir

Nearing Walton-Upon-Thames I noticed a lot of swans on the river. They seem to be more prolific the closer you get to Windsor. Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II owns all the swans in England. According to the official Royal Family website, the Crown has held the right to claim ownership of all unmarked mute swans swimming in open waters across the country since the 12th Century. Some of the swans are owned by the Vintners and Dyers, but are marked by those companies.

Walking the Thames Path
All the Queen’s swans? Swans galore

I continued beneath the lovely Walton Bridge and along the Desborough Cut. Manmade and formed alongside the Thames in order to ‘cut’ out a lengthy double bend in the river…I felt a little bit cheated really. LOL I will probably go back one day and walk that section..🚶‍♀️🚶‍♀️

Walking the Thames Path
Walton Bridge

As I neared the ferry I noticed a stunningly beautiful, albeit dilapidated house (a 13-bedroom mansion actually), on a small island….this was D’Oyly Carte Island I had read about in the guide book. I chatted to someone about the house and apparently it’s recently been bought and will be restored to it’s former glory. Quite right too, it’s beautiful. If I were a rich (wo)man, I’d buy it…. The house has links to Gilbert & Sullivan : Richard D’Oyly Carte, born in 1844, was a London theatre impresario who brought together dramatist WS Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan. A key theatreland figure in the latter part of the Victorian era, he built the Savoy Theatre in London and founded the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.

walking the thames path
D’Oyly Carte Island – my dream house

After oohing and ahhing and just dying to cross the footbridge that leads to the island, I continued on my ‘wey’ LOL (get it…wey 😉) and soon reached the juncture where the River Wey joins the Thames and at this point took the ferry across to the north bank and Shepperton.

If you look at the river on google maps at this point it’s like spagetti junction with the two rivers joining forces and weaving around islands and locks.

Walking the Thames Path
Spagetti Junction.. Walking the Thames Path

It was good fun…I love crossing the river by ferry and take every opportunity to do so. I arrived at the ferry point at the same time as a family with two children. They read the notice that said you had to ring the bell to summons the ferry from the opposite bank, but they were a bit timid and didn’t ring it very loudly…so I humoured them and rang it vigorously 😁😁 they nearly had hysterics! But, it worked…the ferry crossed over and picked us up. Hoorah!

walking the thames path
the ferry to Shepperton at spagetti junction
don’t pay the ferry man till he gets you to the other side…
safely across the Thames, now in Shepperton

Safely across the river I headed upstream on what was now the north bank…my ultimate destination: Staines-Upon-Thames.

I passed Shepperton Lock on the left and felt sad that due to covid the tearoom was still closed, I would have stopped for tea for sure. I remember having tea there once many years ago…the view of the river is superb.

Shepperton Lock
Story of the river – when sorting through my images and reading these boards more closely, I was amused to note that they also called this section ‘spagetti junction’

I passed Pharaoh’s Island, so named after it was purchased by the Treasury to give to Admiral Nelson after the Battle of the Nile (1798). It’s fantastic how some of these islands got their names. It used to be called Dog Island, but Pharaoh sounds much more interesting.

love, love love this houseboat..moored alongside Pharaoh’s Island
the river is now on my left hand side till Staines Upon Thames

Reaching Ryepeck Meadow Moorings I saw some fantastic boathouses…oh my gosh. Stunning. Lots of beautiful flowers lined the banks

another fantastic houseboat. I wonder what draws people to this type of lifestyle? It’s compact..
a glorious splash of colour…so glad April is spring in the northern hemisphere
Walking the Thames Path
Fantastic houseboat – I’d live here 😀

The river curves and winds it’s way along, the path so close you could sit and dangle your hot, tired feet, in the cool, refreshing water…if only!! Maybe next time…although in reality, the water was quite a way down and I would have had to have long legs, which I don’t 🙄🙄

Ahead was a lovely green open space; Dumsey Meadow, but sadly few trees for respite from the baking sun. Mad dogs and Englishmen and all that springs to mind!

Dumsey Meadow – I was hoping for a shady break…

Hoorah! Chertsey Bridge…offered a brief respite from the sun! They need to put a couple of benches here..I’m sure they’d be well used.

Chertsey Bridge offered a brief respite – a couple of benches would be lovely

Follow the acorn!! Back to suburbia and a busy road – although I managed to get most of the way past before any traffic.

walking the thames path
back to suburbia

And ahead Chertsey Lock and weir.

Chertsey Lock and weir

I soon passed under the M3

M3 I believe…although very noisy, at least it offered a brief respite from the sun

Ahead of me Laleham Park where I stopped for a short while to rest my poor feet, get some relief from the sun and have something to eat and drink. As I was walking towards the park a few horse and carts came clopping past.

absolutely beautiful animals…

I was a bit slow on the uptake and only managed to capture a very short snippet of film as they went past

but I did see the horses further up in Laleham Park cooling down in the river.

having a well-deserved swim at Laleham Park

Back to urban living and the often metalled surfaces that are so hard on the feet! Gosh, there are some gorgeous houses here. There are loads of direction markers too, so you can’t get lost.

another direction marker, another metalled surface, on the outskirts of Staines
Walking the Thames Path
Large houses…Laleham!

Hoorah! Staines 1.3/4 miles (2.8 kms) my feet rejoiced 🤭🤭

Walking the Thames Path
Staines!! Not too far to go

Penton Hook Lock soon hove into view (who makes up these names?) – I asked for a top-up of my water, but no-one had any taps available. There’s a huge marina here on the opposite side of the river… water water everywhere and nary a drop to drink! Bah humbug to covid. Penton Hook Lock, at 266 ft (81m) is the 3rd longest lock on the river, the 6th lowest lock of 44 on the non-tidal reaches of the River Thames. It faces an island which was, until its construction, a pronounced meander (a hook) and located on the site of its seasonal cutoff. It is against the left bank, marking the church parish medieval border of Laleham and Staines upon Thames in Surrey, for many centuries. Until 1965 their county was Middlesex.

Walking the Thames Path
Penton Hook Lock

Although the next few kilometres were quite residential, the houses were mostly set in large gardens and didn’t intrude on the path, which was lovely and wide and easy to walk on. I much prefer gravel to metalled surfaces.

Walking the Thames Path
Lovely wide gravel path

I passed a lovely old church; St Peter’s that I simply had to photograph…love these buildings.

walking the thames path
St Peter’s Church, Staines-Upon-Thames

I was now on the outskirts of Staines, and nearing my destination….time 16:56 and I had been walking pretty much non-stop for 5 hours, except for brief stops as mentioned, which are seldom more than 10 minutes at a time.

2 minutes after passing St Peter’s Church I had my first view of the Staines-Upon-Thames railway bridge! Hoorah – soon I’d be crossing that bridge on my way home!

walking the thames path staines railway bridge
Staines Railway Bridge!! I could just see the Staines Bridge in the distance…whoop whoop

Back on urban territory I was soon in the thick of things, traffic, metalled surface etc etc….albeit a very pretty environment I must say. Enroute along the riverside path I passed by the Mercure Thames Lodge where I was meant to have stayed before the reality of the lockdown restrictions still in place hit home, and I had to cancel all my bookings 😦 It’s a gorgeous location, but ever so pricey over the period after lockdown.

walking the thames path
where I was meant to stay if my plans had worked out…ahhh but lockdown rules! urgh

I walked by some absolutely gorgeous houses that reminded me of Bermuda…love those balconies and the flowers – just stunning. And finally…Memorial Gardens and so very near the end of today’s journey; Stage 5 of Walking the Thames Path!

walking the thames path
I was well excited by now…soooo close to journey’s end

In the memorial gardens I saw a fabulous statue; The Swanmaster – he who counts the swans for The Queen during Swan Upping, a totally bizarre word for a really tricky job. Swan Upping still takes place once a year on the River Thames.  The Swan Uppers weigh and measure the cygnets and check them for any signs of injury, commonly caused by fishing hooks and line.  The young cygnets are ringed with individual identification numbers that denote their ownership if they belong to the Vintners or the Dyers livery companies; the cygnets’ ownership is determined by their parentage. However, all Crown birds are left unmarked.  The Queen retains the right to claim ownership of any unmarked mute swan swimming in open waters, but this right is mainly exercised on certain stretches of the River Thames. ref their website. If you’d like to know more about swan upping, have a look at their website. It’s really interesting. I’ve been to both the the Worshipful Company of Vintners’ and the Worshipful Company of Dyers’ Halls during Open House in September. If you ever get a chance to go, do, it’s well worth the trip. The Vintners’ Hall in particular is absolutely stunning.

walking the thames path
The Swan Master 1983 Staines-Upon-Thames by Diana Thomson FRBS

The Dancing Fountains – this must look gorgeous when the waterfountain is on

walking the thames path, staines upon thames
Dancing Fountain

Abstract sculpture of a swan – trying to save on battery by now, I didn’t stop to look at who the artist is, I figured I’d find it on the www…but no, not yet! Do you know who the artist is?

walking the thames path
Interesting sculpture…I think it’s mean to depict a swan

The London Stone!! I had waited a long time to see this!

walking the thames path
The London Stone – ever since I first got the guide book, I’ve looked forward to reach this point

Andddd Staines Bridge – knock knock at 17:09. whoo hoo. I’m here!

walking the thames path, staines upon thames
and I’m here – knock, knock!! 🙂 Staines Bridge

What an amazing day! I had it all; history, fabulous view of the river, an amazing sundial, stunning houseboats, mysterious islands, quirky canal boats, locks and weirs, a ferry ride, passed through some terrific parks, saw interesting sculptures and the London Stone! a mostly amazing path – easy to navigate, blue skies, sunshine, a soft breeze from time to time, 172 photos, and boo hoo no ice-cream LOL I literally didn’t see any ice-cream vendors the whole way from East Molesey to SuT.

It was lovely to see so many people out and about enjoying the sunshine. The Thames Path is very much a shared path and along this section there were a number of places where families could have picnics, kiddies could run about and play, and enjoy the fresh air and our fabulous river. Watersports on the upper reaches of the Thames are hugely popular and you will often see kyakers, canoeists, rowers and of course all the fancy speedboats. You can take a ride along the river on a commercial ‘steam’ boat at a number of places along the river pretty much from Richmond. And you will frequently see canal boats chugging by…I’m often tempted to call out and ask for a ride LOL Of course with spring in the air, there was much flitting about and trilling songs from the birdlife and since the river is so much less polluted here, you will spot many a heron in the shallows, amongst much else…swans in particular are plentiful. It’s just wonderful.

I’m ever so pleased with my progress and sooo grateful for the fabulous weather! Long may it last!

I managed to get the 17:38 train and home by 9pm. hoorah. So Stage 6 and 7….when shall I do those I wonder?

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Today marks one of Peanut’s ‘due dates’…..and nope, he has not arrived. Not sure how I feel about that! On one hand I’m pleased because he will arrive when he is good and ready and not because the NHS are still working on calculations that were first established in 1744 (?) I mean seriously…..we’re now in the 21st century, we’ve put a man on the moon (apparently), we’ve sent rockets into space countless times, we sent astronauts into space to live on a space station; the International Space Station that circumnavigates the planet on a daily basis, we have invented phones that can do just about anything you want it to except eat for you, and yet the NHS are still working on a calculation made by a Dutch doctor in 1744. If you could see me now, I’d be rolling my eyes!! LOL

On the other hand I am impatient….after 34 weeks of excitement at the thought of becoming a Granny, I am now waiting impatiently. However, either way and whichever day, by at least the 19th he should be here. 🙂

Meanwhile I am making the most of every day to get out and walk. I want to be sure to have a photo of the sunrise on the day he is born…I hope it’s a spectacular one and not grey like today!! I’m making a book; The Incredible Journey of James Alexander aka Jamie aka Peanut and would really love the photo to be of a stunning sunrise!! 🙂

I left rather late just after 9.15, opting to linger a bit longer in bed with a cup of tea after peeking out the window and seeing the grey clouds. It is definitely getting colder and today my hands were red by the time I got back. I also didn’t venture very far since I am the nominated driver for when my daughter does go into labour and I do not want to panic about getting back from a walk if I’m miles away. I’ll get back to the long walks once baby is here.

Grey and grizzly as it may be, the view from the clifftop across Viking Bay is still beautiful.

walk 1000 miles, walks along the coastal path england, walks on the isle of thanet, map my walk

tis a grey day on the Isle of Thanet

I didn’t get to walk along the beach since the tide was well and truly in by the time I got going so I walked along the promenade to Louisa Bay and walked down to the concrete path along the sea wall and made my way to Dumpton Gap again.

walk 1000 miles, walks along the coastal path england, walks on the isle of thanet, map my walk

the tide is in – looking back towards Viking Bay

walk 1000 miles, walks along the coastal path england, walks on the isle of thanet, map my walk

the tide is in – Dumpton Gap : looking south along the coast towards Ramsgate

There were a couple of labrador dogs running about and investigating; they are such happy animals with their wagging tails. I should have taken a photo, they were that cute. But instead I just photographed the seas and then headed back home.

walk 1000 miles, walks along the coastal path england, walks on the isle of thanet, map my walk

the tide is in at Dumpton Gap, no chance of getting through there today

walk 1000 miles, walks along the coastal path england, walks on the isle of thanet, map my walk

the tide is in at Dumpton Gap and soon my footprints will be washed away

It was a bit windy today too and the seas were rough and wild. I had planned to head down to the harbour later on to photograph the waves, but with one thing and another, I never quite made it that far.

After a breakfast of croissants from the Old Bake House

the old bake house broadstairs, walk 1000 miles, walking the isle of thanet

The Old Bake House on the corner of Serene Place and the High Street is where I buy our croissants; the most delicious you can imagine, always fresh, never burned with a delicious spongy interior. My favourite are the almond fillings. Bradstow House, the building on the corner of Serene Place and the High Street, is early 18th century and was originally constructed as a single house but is now a house and the Old Bake House and cafe. The shop front that you can see was constructed in the 19th century.

and a cup of hot steaming tea, I strolled along to Toffs and Tarts Hairdresser in Albion Road and had my hair cut. I finally found a hairdresser who knows how to feather cut hair using a razor! Hoorah. It feels so much lighter now and he did a really good job.

Day 5/365 and today I walked 3.79 kms and 5713 steps and we are 5 days closer to Peanut’s arrival 🙂 Soon I hope to be taking him on my daily perambulations to Ramsgate!

walk 1000 miles, map my walk, walks on the isle of thanet

Viking bay to Dumpton Gap

 

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A few days ago I looked at my calendar and suddenly realised that this ‘big’ pilgrimage of mine that I have been talking about for months was only 3.5 months away!!! Shock and horror. Where has the time gone and how did this suddenly creep up on me. Although I have joined the #walk1000miles challenge for 2018 again, I have been quite lazydasical about getting out and walking….always at the back on my mind is the thought of ‘hey, I walked 240 kms across Portugal and Spain last year on my Camino’ ergo I should be fit!! Uhm, no!! Not really. In reality I’ve really slacked off and once I reached the magic number of 1000 miles in 2017, my brain said “okay, enough already, time for a break”.

Then we had winter. Enough said on THAT subject. Urgh. Mind you I was lucky enough to experience snowfall in Montgomery, Wales that turned the world magical.

snow in wales, snowing in the uk, winter wonderland,

the WW2 Monument in Montgomery

However……with the prospect of 136 miles from Winchester to Canterbury ahead of me, the realisation that I best kick my ass into gear has hit home.

pilgrimage winchester to canterbury, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, pilgrims chapel winchester, pilgrims chapel canterbury, following the pilgrims way

Pilgrims’s Chapels Winchester and Canterbury

And so I have started training in earnest once again and boy has my fitness level dropped since September 2017. Blimey. So, although I have managed just over 373 kms/ 233 miles since 01.01.2018, I figured I best get my act together and do some serious walking again.

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

3 in 1 : North Downs Way, Vanguard Way, Greenwich Meridian Way,

I’ve been working in Oxted since 01.05 and I’ve managed a few walks up to and through the Titsey estate, some of which takes me along the Pilgrim’s Way on the North Downs, albeit just a little way.

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

The Pilgrim’s Way, North Downs, Oxted

The brilliant aspect of the walks in this area is that there’s a substantial amount of uphill walking which is giving me an excellent cardiovascular workout. The first day I did that I thought my heart was going to pop right out of my chest!!

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

a good cardiovascular workout

This was a tad disappointing since last year, when I was working here, I used to follow that route almost daily and after a few weeks was climbing to the top of the ridge, hardly out of breath. Clearly my fitness levels have indeed dropped.

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

walking along the North Downs

Walking in this area is always a pleasure and the views from whichever level you choose to walk are spectacular, at any time of the year.

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, titsey place

View from the ridge; Titsey House in the distance

And now on the cusp of summer is no exception. The trees are sprouting leaves by the million; some of which are that fantastic luminescent green that seems otherworldly.

the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

summer greens

The rapeseed fields are ablaze with tiny bright yellow blooms that spread like butter across the landscape, so bright you could surely see them from space!

rapeseed fields, the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

Bright yellow rapeseed fields

I’ve seen a few walkers, quite a few dogs and a number of rabbits. The weather has been spectacular albeit very hot for long distance walking. We had loads of rain over the previous weeks and the ground in many areas has been sodden, like a quagmire and traversing these areas has been a bit of a challenge!! I took a walk through a small copse of trees hoping to see bluebells like last year’s crop…but sadly most of them have already faded.

bluebells, the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

just a smattering of bluebells left

I’m mindful of the fact that we may well have a lot of rain in August and September, in which case I’ll have to be walking through said quagmires which is decidedly unpleasant…..I may just have to get the wellies out! LOL But I’m hoping for days like this..

titsey place, the pilgrims way north downs, follow the pilgrims way, pilgrims way winchester to canterbury

across the fields at Titsey Place

And so the training has begun in earnest. I’m planning on walking from Broadstairs to Folkestone in the coming weeks and that should give me a good workout as I’ll be walking with Pepe (my backpack) fully loaded. As always Gemini (my walking poles) are in hand to support me on my walks. I really love those poles now and feel quite naked when I walk without them.

Titsey Place and Gardens

Titsey Place and Gardens

 

 

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As mentioned in an earlier post I’ve been planning my summer pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury, prior to flying to Spain for the Camino Inglés. One of the best aspects of planning a pilgrimage is the research. I’ve uncovered so many wonderful places to see and visit; castles, Roman villas, ancient churches, Domesday villages. I’ll be walking along two ancient routes; St Swithun’s Way and the North Downs Way that combine to make The Pilgrim’s Way.

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I’m sure to see a few of these along the Pilgrim’s Way

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The chalk landscape along the Pilgrim’s Way in Surrey – North Downs

The Pilgrim’s Way, an ancient trackway, is an historical route followed by medieval and modern pilgrims from Winchester in Hampshire to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent.

From medieval cathedral to medieval cathedral, winding its way through the English counties of Hampshire, Surrey and Kent, the track takes the pilgrim along both Roman and modern roads, through ancient towns and cities, taking in historical castles and ancient churches, Roman villas, past numerous ‘tumulus’, through fields and forests, over chalk hills that offer picturesque vistas of the English countryside, alongside and over flowing rivers.

pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, walking the pilgrims way, pilgrimage to canterbury, domeday vbook villages, long distance walks in england, national trail england,

along the Pilgrim’s Way

With an archaeological age of between 600-450 BC dated by finds along the route, the course has been dictated by natural geological contours and causeways, and is now a culmination of various routes followed over the aeons from as far back as the Stone Age. Although I doubt the stone age dudes were on a pilgrimage!

The names of the towns, villages and cities roll off the tongue like a lesson in history; Winchester, Abbots Worthy, Martyr Worthy, Itchen Abbas, Bishops Sutton, Four Marks, Holybourne, Upper Froyle, Lower Froyle, Farnham, Seale, Puttenham, Guildford, Shere, Oxted, Limpsfield, Otford, Kemsing, Trottisford, Detling, Thurnham, Lenham, Boughton Lees, Old Wives Lees, Chilham and then hoorah…Canterbury.

pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, walking the pilgrims way, pilgrimage to canterbury, domeday vbook villages, long distance walks in england, national trail england,

Limpsfield – Domesday Book village

The chalk landscape along the Pilgrim's Way in Surrey - North Downs

Tatsfield – Domesday Book village

Along the way I’ll pass places like Avington Park, Jane Austen’s house, Farnham Castle, Guildford Castle, the Silent Pool, Kit’s Coty House, the White Horse Stones and the Black Prince’s Well before reaching the historical walled city of Canterbury and thus to my ultimate destination; Canterbury Cathedral.

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The Silent Pool

It’s been really tricky trying to work out the most conducive distance between towns. I really don’t want to walk more than 20kms a day. Besides the distances, I have to consider whether or not I’ll find suitable accommodation. I’m seriously considering taking my sleeping bag along just in case there are some days I am without something suitable….I can always sleep on a church porch! Although there are a lot of venues listed on the Pilgrim’s Way UK website, many of them are in the region of £100+p.n. which frankly is ludicrous and I’m certainly not prepared to pay that much. Unlike the European Camino routes that have hostels or albergues in virtually every hamlet, village or town, the accommodation along the Pilgrim’s Way is sketchy to say the least. I’m sure there are loads of places to stay, but as mentioned earlier, the prices are exorbitant.

the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, the pilgrims way uk, walking the pilgrims way, walking the camino, pilgrimage to canterburym

 

I’ve ordered the guide book; ‘The Pilgrim’s Way To Canterbury from Winchester and London’ by Leigh Hatts, recommended on their site. I’m hoping it will be at home waiting for me when I return this weekend 🙂 Can’t wait to start digging into it. (*update! It’s arrived!! Happy dance.)

I’ve spent hours on their site reviewing the map, calculating distances, checking ‘places to see along the way’, reviewing the churches…I’m only looking at the churches that actually provide a pilgrim’s passport stamp. If I have time and happen across any others that look interesting, of course I’ll pop in, but I won’t be going out of my way.

 

When reviewing the map on their website I noticed I’ll be walking sections of the Pilgrim’s Way that I’ve walked in the past, so it will be quite exciting to walk those again.

I’m trying to decide what I should pack in Pepe (my rucksack). I’ll be leaving for Spain 2 days after I reach Canterbury, so won’t have much time to repack….I’m going to keep it as light as possible and of course I won’t be taking my flip flops LOL According to the weather website, the best months to travel in England are May, June, September and October. These months generally have the most pleasant temperatures and less rain. July and August are the warmest months, but are also the wettest…. which is not what I want to read!!!! Does this mean I’ll need my rain poncho? I hope my shoes can handle the mud LOL

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my walking poles will definitely be helping me along the Pilgrim’s Way

Thankfully I don’t have to buy the rucksack, shoes, walking poles and all the paraphernalia that I had to buy in 2016/17 for my Portuguese Camino. So hopefully it will be a lot less costly than that trip. However, I’ve been investigating the prices and boy, it’s not cheap to fly to Spain anymore. No surprise there I guess.

There’s quite a lot to be considered when planning these walks. I’m not one of those people that can just sling on a rucksack, head out and start walking….I like to plan things. If I decide to do something impulsive along the way, then that’s fine. But I like to know where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. So atm I’m researching, listing, checking venues, and deciding on dates et al.  Anyway, I just enjoy creating spreadsheets, and to the truth of that, my daughter would testify. LOL

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The Pilgrim’s Way Lenham – Domesday Book village

Onwards…….along The Pilgrim’s Way

 

 

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You’ve got to know when to carry on
Know when to quit,
Know when to stop each day,
And know when to rest.
You never count your blisters
When you’re sitting at the table (ewww)
There’ll be time enough for walking
When the feet are healed…..

Okay, so I’ve used a bit of artistic licence with the lyrics of ‘The Gambler’ – one of my favourite Kenny Rogers songs, something my daughter and I often sing along to.

That song was running through my mind on Day 3 after I reached Faversham having hobbled the last 4 kilometres in driving rain, feet blistered and aching, soaked to the skin. LOL Alright, I admit it….it wasn’t THAT bad; it did rain but just short shower (albeit enough to soak me to the skin mind!), my feet were blistered and I did hobble….but I wasn’t actually dying!! hahaha. I did however make the sensible decision to quit while I could actually still walk and on the morning of Day 4 I took the train to Canterbury.

The blisters were by that stage seriously eina (painful) and I knew for sure that I wouldn’t be able to walk the final 9+ miles into Canterbury and live to tell the tale. I also had to get back to work within a couple of days, and that was more important than pushing myself beyond what was necessary.

As mentioned in Day 3’s blog post, my daughter joined me for a scrumptious Afternoon tea with champagne with scones and cream, and I spent the night at The Falstaff, the fabulous 14th century inn just outside the West Gate of Canterbury city.

I so enjoyed the feel of spending the night in a 14th century inn, it’s quite phenomenal. After checkout I popped in at the Hospital of St Thomas of Eastbridge to get a stamp in my passport…no date, just the stamp in case they were closed when I did my final day. Then I hopped on a train to home and spent the day with my daughter. Back to work and I took some time out, not making any lengthy walks anywhere…I really needed to rest my feet, allow the blisters to heal and the bones to recover their equilibrium.

The days whizzed by and finally I was ready to start; Faversham to Canterbury – the finale 🙂

faversham history

Faversham architectural history

Taking the train from Tonbridge at 06:15 I arrived in Faversham just after 8:30. The trains don’t run very early on Sundays so I had to just bite the bullet and start when I started. First I went back to The Sun Inn to say hello and thank you and take a few photos, and then explored the town centre.

the sun inn faversham

The Sun Inn Faversham. A most amazing place to stay

With oodles of history going back to the 1086 Domesday Book and earlier, Faversham definitely bears further investigation on another day.faversham

It was market day and the stall holders were busy setting up. I bought a sweet pastry to get me going and set off….Canterbury here I come.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

I’m on the right road

I was of course under no illusions now about how tiring and painful this could be, so I tried to set an easy gait and get my backpack settled. For some reason it just did not want to sit properly and I spent the whole day shifting it about. Weird since it was packed almost identically to the first 3 days I walked and was no heavier.

Again I was struck by how beautiful the English countryside can be. Kent is known as the food basket or garden of England and seeing the fields of crops and dozens of fruit trees, you can certainly believe the name fits.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

Kent countryside

The first village of note was Boughton Under Blean; a stunning village lined with the most marvellous array of medieval architecture you could wish for I was hoping to stop for coffee and something to eat and had bypassed the pub at the beginning of the village expecting to find another suitable place. Lesson learned: stop at the first place you find…there may not be another. I was still really early (10:04) and most places were still closed. Oh well. Onwards.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

Boughton Under Blean

I stopped to ask a lady if there was likely to be anything open, but being Sunday….however we had a wonderful conversation and she was quite intrigued by my journey. I think that is one of the aspects I really enjoyed chatting to various folk along the way. I spotted a history board as I left the village and note that there was a parish church…but again too far to walk to that day. A car would be good LOL. The history is amazing and the village has links going back to the 16th century and earlier, as well as the Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes.

Boughton; (originally ‘Bocton’) means ‘land held by book, or charter’ and lay on the main route between London and Canterbury and is mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, in ‘The Canon’s Yeoman’s Prologue’. The High Street forms part of the old Roman road (‘Watling Street’) from London to Canterbury and Dover and in days gone by would have hosted thousand of pilgrims on their way to the shrine of Thomas Becket.

faversham to canterbury finale

Chaucer’s pilgrims passing through Boughton Under Blean

Moving on from Boughton Under Blean I passed Christ Church Dunkirk ….Dunkirk??? Jeez did I teleport to France? LOL Bears further investigation. The church is now a private residence but the graveyard was still open to exploration.

parish church of dunkirk

Parish Church of Dunkirk

I passed another row of houses further on that turned out to be the village of Dunkirk. 🙂 How cool is that. Time now was 11:36. I was looking forward to reaching Canterbury LOL

I had been following the route on my app: map my walk and suddenly the roadway ran out…just after passing through Dunkirk I quite literally hit a dual carriageway with absolutely nowhere to walk. I had been walking on a narrow pavement up until then and the traffic whizzing past was nerve-wracking…again coming from behind and when a large truck roared past I could feel my body being pulled in the slip-stream. I retraced my steps and turned down a road that was a cul-de-sac. This took me into wild country and I passed a paint-balling group who said I should just carry on along this narrow road, that turned out to be the old Roman Road to Canterbury, and eventually I would reach a point where I would find a better road….which I eventually did.

Along the way I came across some wild blackberry bushes; fat juicy pollution ripened blackberries 😉 delicious nonetheless. I ate my fill and carried on. Really wanting a cup of tea.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

Blackberries enroute

I spotted a Holiday Inn sign in the distance and decided to stop for that tea and a snack to eat and charge up my tablet. Following the Roman Road I passed through Harbledowns and eventually reached the A2050 which lead me to Canterbury Christ Church University…and this is where the road seriously ran out for me. There was just no way around it and the verge, although wide was just grass and bushes lined with high walls…probably to reduce the traffic noise levels for the houses behind. If I was limber enough I would have climbed over the wall LOL. But I’m not and I didn’t.

The walls also meant that I couldn’t get to Westgate Court Avenue which is the road I had wanted to follow into the city. I walked along the grass verges which were quite wide and so I felt safe from the traffic but I’m pretty certain I wasn’t meant to be there. I finally spotted a roundabout that became Rheims Way and at the same time a sign-board that read CANTERBURY! Hoorah Time was now 14:19 and I had left Faversham 5 hours previously.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

Finally reaching Canterbury

From there I scooted across the road and picked up the London Road that took me to St Dunstans Street and a wonderful church. Stopping off to explore, no way could this marvellous place; The Parish Church of Saint Dunstan Without the West Gate be bypassed. Dunstan was Archbishop of Canterbury from 960 to 978 and canonised soon after his death, becoming the favourite saint of the English until 200 years later he was supplanted by Thomas Becket. Dunstan was buried in Canterbury Cathedral but his tomb was destroyed during the Reformation.

st dunstans without the west gate

St Dunstan’s Without the West Gate, Canterbury

Finally I was in Canterbury. I cannot tell you the sense of achievement and relief. It had rained, shined, pained and here I was….almost at the end of my journey.

After exploring St Dunstans I headed towards the West Gate, finally entering the city as a proper pilgrim. I was so tired and so chuffed.

west gate canterbury

The West Gate Canterbury

After entering through the gate into Canterbury city my first stop was the Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr of Eastbridge. And now I could have my passport dated 🙂 The gentleman behind the counter was happy to oblige and well impressed at my journey. We chatted for a while and then he invited me to take a tour; as a pilgrim. I was nearly in tears. I am a pilgrim 🙂 Awesome.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

The Canterbury Pilgrim’s Hospital of Saint Thomas

Founded in the 12th century the Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr of Eastbridge in Canterbury, was in fact similar to today’s hostels; a place that provided overnight accommodation for poor pilgrims to the shrine of St Thomas Beckett….although of course we pay for hostels, in those days pilgrims usually donated or worked for their keep.  The ‘Hospital’ is a grade I listed building and one of the ten almshouses still providing accommodation for elderly citizens of Canterbury.east bridge hospital and chaucer

Do visit, it is fabulous. I went upstairs to the Pilgrims Chapel and said a prayer of thanks for bringing me this far in one piece. I’m not religious by any means, but I do find it very comforting and special to say a prayer of thanks….and I was really grateful to have been able to walk this journey. It had taken such a long time from when I first started.

Situated on the King’s-bridge, near the Westgate, in Canterbury, the hospital was established sometime after the death of Thomas Becket (1170), possibly as early as 1176, when Canterbury Cathedral became a site of pilgrimage. There are some fabulous medieval paintings on the walls and the crypt is ethereal.

From there I set off for the Cathedral 🙂 Finally I could get my pilgrims passport stamped at journey’s end! I entered the gate as a Pilgrim at 15:36 and was escorted to the Visitor Centre by the young man who welcomed me and called out “Pilgrim coming through” – I was so emotional and overjoyed…

Pilgrim's Passport - Southwark to Canterbury In the footsteps of Chaucer

Pilgrim’s Passport – Southwark to Canterbury In the footsteps of Chaucer

To my absolute delight I had quite unknowingly arrived at Canterbury Cathedral on Pilgrim’s Day; 29 July 2017. The cathedral had hosted a series of events on that day and even though I was a tad late to participate in many of them, I did get a passport of sorts, a badge and managed to get 1 stamp for one of the activities.

pilgrims day at canterbury cathedral

Pilgrim’s Day at Canterbury Cathedral 29 July 2017

I spent some time exploring the cathedral; my first stop the shrine of Thomas Becket. This area is where he was murdered in 1170 by four of Henry II’s knights.

shrine of thomas becket

Shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral

Henry and Becket had been friend since their youth but once Becket became Archbishop his demeanour changed and in due course he and Henry had a conflict. This resulted in Henry becoming incensed and uttered the infamous words “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest!” The 4 knights took this to heart, and on the 29 December 1170 they murdered Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.

 

I love Canterbury Cathedral. Like Westminster Cathedral and Winchester Cathedral it soars skywards to the heavens. It’s filled with an extraordinary array of historical treasures, tombs and memorials. I spent a good hour there and then set off for my reward for all the walking.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

a delicious treat

And as a treat for my epic journey I treated myself to a most delicious crepe with dark chocolate, fresh strawberries and cream at the Chocolate Cafe in Guildhall Street. Best ever crepes and highly recommended.

Distance walked: 20.1 kms – 7:37 hours – 42063 steps – elevation 185 meters.

I love to explore and am usually quite happy to take numerous diversions to visit something that takes my interest, but one thing I learned on this journey….not matter how intriguing the place may be, I have my limits LOL After walking for hours and miles with a backpack, I find myself quite unable to summon up any enthusiasm for adding another mile or so.

So that’s it, my Southwark to Canterbury in the footsteps of Chaucer journey is now complete. Only took 7 years hahaha. It was worth all the pain and tiredness; I had a most amazing time and saw so many fantastic places and learned some fascinating facts about the history of this amazing country.

If you’d like to read up on the first 3 days, here are the links:

Day 1 Southwark to Gravesend

Day 2 Gravesend to Rochester

Day 3 Rochester to Faversham

What’s next? Way of St Augustine from Ramsgate to Canterbury…starting 30/07/2017 & finishing 31/07/2017

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Day 3: From Rochester to Faversham 17.2 miles (according to google) 🙂

In reality I walked 36.67 kms/22.91875 miles (probably more, since my phone crashed at one point in Sittingbourne).

Pilgrimage; Southwark to Canterbury

I do keep thinking of this quote…nonetheless

Either way, it was too long and in retrospect I could/should have spread the journey over 5 days instead of 4, even 6 days would have been more enjoyable.

Be that as it may, that walk has given me a huge insight into how my body and my mind cope with the extra weight of the backpack; how it slowed me down, how it affected my feet, my back, my shoulders, how necessary it was to take more frequent breaks, and thus I can reassess my Camino plan and amend it accordingly.

Before I started the journey and during the planning phase I recall thinking that this section, from Rochester to Faversham was going to be a tough one…..I rightly figured that by day 3 my feet and joints et al were going to be aching!! And they were. But if I’m to do the Camino then I just have to suck it up, take a deep breath and carry on! According to the information I’d gleaned it seems that Chaucer and his merry band stayed at lodgings in Ospringe. Now I did some research and found that there is a fab monastery where groups of modern pilgrims have stayed, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll open it up for just me. So instead I’ve found a fab place called The Sun Inn at Faversham – “with a tale to tell that dates back to the 14th century, the inn oozes history, charm and character“…or so the website says 😉 I wonder, since it’s a 14th century inn, whether Chaucer stayed there perhaps? I’d love to think he did…. whatever the case may be, it looked amazing and I was excited at the prospect of staying there!! http://www.sunfaversham.co.uk/

I slept really well at Greystones B&B in Rochester and at 5:30 after a quick breakfast I was on my way. I stopped for a last look at the castle and of course the cathedral where I posted a live video to Facebook. I felt really excited at the journey ahead; what would I discover? The sun was already well up in the sky and I was glad I’d decided to leave so early. After yesterday’s grilling heat, I was hoping to get far before it got too hot….hah!

Rochester Castle and Rochester Cathedral

Rochester Castle and Rochester Cathedral

First up was a quick explore around Rochester. The streets were still relatively quiet although there were quite a few people about. I’ve been to Rochester a couple of times before and explored, but there is always something new to discover; so many layers of history make up this marvellous city.

City of Rochester, one of the stops on Chaucer;'s Canterbury Tales

City of Rochester, one of the stops on Chaucer;’s Canterbury Tales

And so to Chatham. I was swinging along, still feeling jaunty after a good night’s sleep, bones and feet not too achy, when suddenly I saw a signboard that read ‘Chatham’!! I was gobsmacked…I never expected to get there so quickly.

Chatham - first town on the Rochester to Faversham section

Chatham – first town on the Rochester to Faversham section

And then….Chatham Hill LOL. When I was planning my trip I saw the name of the road on google maps, but somehow the word ‘hill’ didn’t quite sink in….not sure which part of ‘hill’ I didn’t fully understand but oh my gosh….there it was, leering at me with spiteful glee. hahaha. “Come on the you woosey, climb me why don’t you”. Urgh. But, since that was the route I didn’t have much choice, so I just focused on one foot in front of the other and plodded…. and suddenly after 20 minutes (LOL) I was at the top. 🙂 That was the first but OMG it certainly wasn’t the last! I never realised that Kent was so hilly, it doesn’t look like it from the train!!! It made me glad to think that the Camino route I was planning on walking is quite flat; I freaking hope!!

Chatham - first town on the Rochester to Faversham section

Chatham Hill

After plodding along for 2 hours I was desperate for a cup of tea…or even coffee would do. Costa Coffee where are you when I need you? With nary a sighting of a coffee shop I spied a diner; Karen’s Diner, just ahead…hoorah. I dashed in, desperate for not only a cup of something hot, but I needed to pee….”where’s the loo…fast !” LOL. Bless him, the chap behind the counter didn’t even blink…just pointed me in the right direction and carried on with…whatever it was he was doing. As for me, I just bloody made it. Backpack on and walking poles sticking akimbo, I plonked myself down without even closing the door…I couldn’t hahahaha…with my backpack on I kinda filled the cubicle. Finding toilets was one of the biggest challenges of the walk, especially between towns. Both relieved and relieved, I ordered a cup of coffee and proceeded to add 6 spoons of sugar!!! Don’t criticise okay!! 😉 I needed the boost; my energy was already flagging. Gawd, carrying the backpack sure makes a huge difference to my energy levels. This was one of the reasons why I wanted to do this walk; to walk the distance and see if I could finish it off before my Camino, and get an idea of how my body could could cope with carrying the weight on my back….I feel utmost sympathy for horses, donkeys and asses…amongst other poor beasts of burden. One thing for sure, hot food is going to be very important.

07:45 and 8 miles to Sittingbourne – easy peasy LOL

day 3 - rochester to faversham sittingbourne

8 Miles to Sittingbourne – how long could 8 miles be?

Although walking along the A2 was absolutely the pits, so much traffic….the little gems of history I discovered along the way were fantastic. Gillingham bears further exploration. Till now these names had all just been stations on the railway route from Broadstairs to London, now suddenly they had personalities; history places and people.

day 3 - rochester to faversham sittingbourne

William Adams – born Gillingham 1504

08:36 Walked: 9.6kms/6 miles. By now I was famished…again!! I spotted Beefeater Manor Farm, High Street, Rainham, Gillingham ME8 7JE and popped in to find out about breakfast. Yayyy; an eat all you want for £8.99. Needless to say I was soon tucking into a delicious meal; I had the works – fruit, pastries, cereal, full English (protein!!) and a pot of heavenly tea. And what did I see just after I set off again….Costa Coffee LOL

By 09:40 I was in Rainham proper where I found a superb little church that just had to be explored. St Margaret’s Rainham is an absolute gem with fantastic medieval paintings on the walls. And there were alive people there!! Hoorah. They welcomed me in, stamped my passport and gave me an impromptu tour of the building…so fascinating!!

st margarets church rainham kent

St Margaret’s Church, Rainham. Built 1350

It turns out that building of the church was started in 1355 which means that it was being built at the time of the Canterbury Tales and Chaucer would have seen it being built. 🙂

day 3 rochester to faversham

St Margaret’s Church, Rainham

How cool is that! <There was a village here by 811 AD when a charter records a grant of land at ‘Roegingaham’ to Wulfrid, Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1137 Robert de Crevecoeur gave Rainham Church and 18 acres of land to Leeds Priory, which he had founded. This meant that the abbot was also the rector of Rainham and would have appointed the vicar as the abbey’s representative to act as the parish priest.>

10:21 and 5 miles to Sittingbourne ( still 5 miles….gahhhh!!)

day 3 rochester to faversham

5 miles to Sittingbourne….. *sob*

Next up and to my absolute delight was the discovery of a village called Newington! By now it was just after 11am and discovering this really energised me – I immediately looked up the history on google and found that it was a Domesday Book village 🙂 How thrilling – another Domesday Book village to add to my Project 101 list.

day 3 rochester to faversham - newington

The Domesday Book village of Newington

Just as I reached the end of the high street I stopped to take a photo of an old building and to my delight and dismay noticed a sign board on the wall: Ancient Parish Church. Oh lordy. hahaha. I love discovering these places, and simply cannot just walk on by, but oh my gosh, they are always well off the road and entailed a lengthy walk….but I just couldn’t continue without stopping to look. I’m so glad I did. St Mary’s Church, Newington was loaded with history, although at that stage I didn’t realise it…the door was locked. What a disappointment. It had just started to rain so taking shelter beneath a lovely tree and a rest I removed my shoes to give my feet a breather, and thus the end result of my journey that day was determined, although I didn’t realise it yet. I foolishly decided to walk across the grass; wet grass I might add, to see the name of the church…and so it came to pass that this really stupid action came to bring my journey to an abrupt end…

day 3 rochester to faversham St Mary the Virgin Church, Newington

St Mary the Virgin Church, Newington

Meanwhile, once the rain had stopped I put my shoes back on and set off…walking with wet socks! (keep that in mind!). As I headed back to the main road I passed a house with the name ‘The Vicarage’ on the gate. I couldn’t resist and marching straight up to the front door I rang the bell. Half expecting it to be a private house, to my surprise the Vicar opened the door; at which the first words out my mouth were: “well that answers that question then!” LOL lordy lordy, God alone knows what he must have thought in that moment…loony lady alert!!

day 3 rochester to faversham

The Vicarage, Newington

After introducing myself I told him about journey and asked if he would be kind enough to sign my Pilgrim’s Passport even though I hadn’t actually been inside the church. To my surprise and sheer delight he asked if I’d like to see inside the church!!! Would I ever! And the next surprise! He gave me the key!! I got the key to the door 🙂 Truly I was amazed that he would trust me with the key after the way I greeted him!! So before he could change his mind…..

day 3 rochester to faversham St Mary the Virgin Church, Newington

St Mary the Virgin Church, Newington

I scurried back from whence I had just come and without further ado I unlocked the door and stepped through the portal into the church interior. Wowww. Fantastic is an understatement. It was wonderful; medieval paintings on the wall, ancient tombs, and the remains of a Saint. Some say that this church contains the tomb of a medieval saint; a pilgrim murdered on his way to Canterbury in 1150. If so, St Robert of Newington is the rarest of survivors; an English saint lying undisturbed in his original tomb!! Seriously just awesome. I spent some minutes exploring and taking photos then locked up behind me and took the key back to himself, with profuse thanks for trusting me with the key.

day 3 rochester to faversham st mary the virgin

the key to St Mary the Virgin, Newington and the tomb of a murdered saint

By now it was 13:12 and on my way again I set a steady pace, still feeling energised at the thrill of being on the ‘open road’ – but I could feel my feet were flagging. That backpack; Pepe sure weighs a ton after a while. Then I met a horse. Spotted in a field across the way I vacillated between crossing the busy road to say hello or just walking on by….eventually the joy of meeting that creature won out and when a gap appeared I scurried over. As soon as he saw me coming he whinnied and trotted over 🙂 I had made the right decision. What a beauty. At first he was coy, but we soon became friends and he proceeded to eat my tangerine. Not sure that it was good for his digestive system but he loved it, asking for more. As soon as it became apparent that my pockets were empty, we said farewell. I remember thinking that Chaucer had the right idea….a horse to Canterbury would suit me fine! If I could ride LOL

day 3 rochester to faversham

this delightful creature was a welcome joy

After 30 minutes or so I reached a very busy roundabout. Urgh, I loathe roudabouts when driving – negotiating them on foot is even worse. On one ‘corner’ I spotted a signboard which told the local story of Key Street; the lost village. Sadly lost to progress, it is thought that the area had been settled as early as the Iron Age. Variously inhabited by Romans, Vikings and Norsemen the area was at first settled and then abandoned and the forests grew back. After Thomas Becket was murdered at Canterbury in 1170, pilgrims to his shrine, on foot or horseback regularly passed this way and so a location was formed with an inn and houses. Fascinating history involving Royals and Highwaymen, a Civil War and the Victorians, it soon succumbed to World Wars, traffic lights and progress.

day 3 rochester to faversham Key Street - The Lost Village

Key Street – The Lost Village…lost to progress

The open road is marvellous with wide fields of corn or vegetables and a scattering of houses here and there. As I walked along I spied Postman Pat in the distance delivering letters and shortly passed a red mailbox set into an alcove in the wall. On the ground just in front was a £5 note! whoaa. I’m a money magnet LOL But I reasoned it probably belonged to the Postman so setting a faster pace I tried my best to catch up to him, which I duly did. I enquired as to whether or not he had possibly lost some money and got a very gruff rebuttal and skewiff glare, so I just cheerily said “Okay, no worries” and carried on along my way with the £5 note tucked into my pocket.

At last, it’s 13:57 and I was on the outskirts of Sittingbourne. As I neared the town I saw a Holiday Inn just off the road and decided to refresh myself…by now I was really tired and had been walking for 8 hours, with Faversham still far far away!! I set off once again grateful for 10 minutes respite and soon spotted a church tower in the distance…hoorah!

day 3 rochester to faversham sittingbourne

Sittingbourne

A welcome sign on the door said ‘Open’ and a trio of cheerful gentlemen welcomed me over and said “join us for tea; it’s free” – tea and free – welcome words indeed 🙂 It was now 14:50 and after 9 hours and 30 minutes of walking with breaks it definitely was time for tea!!!

At that is where disaster struck. For the first, but not the last time. My phone (and most importantly the camera that lives inside) had been connected to my portable charger for a few kilometres, charging on the go as I am wont to do. No sooner had I sat down to sip my tea than the phone suddenly died??? Whatt?? Initially I thought the emergency charger had run out of power, but no, on checking at a power source it still had loads of power. I connected my phone directly to the power source but absolutely nothing! Bloody disaster.

But since there was nothing much I could do, the company was lively, the tea was hot and the cake delicious, I sat back and relaxed; telling my story and listening to theirs.

Time was marching on and I could tarry no longer so with cheerful farewells and donating the fiver I had picked up earlier, I set off to find a phone store that could look at my device and tell me what was going on. I did find a small outlet where the lovely young man behind the counter plugged the phone into his computer (the only place it would charge & still the only place 4 weeks later that it will charge) and boosted the battery by a few %. Just enough to get me to Faversham.

By now it was just after 4pm and the next distance bollard said: 15 miles to Canterbury! How far to Faversham is what I REALLY wanted to know!!

day 3 rochester to faversham

15 miles to Canterbury….

…….to be continued in Part 2 Rochester to Faversham

I had to be very sparing with my phone/camera now since I didn’t want to run out of battery power and the photos (fortunately?) lessened 😦

Marching on with few stops at 16:46 I reached another distance bollard – 13 miles to Canterbury. Geez Louise! Come on, I’m tired and I’d only done 2 miles in 40 minutes!!

day 3 rochester to faversham

13 miles to Canterbury…so how far to Faversham?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 2: From Gravesend to Rochester – 7.1 miles – again this proved to be inaccurate 😉 and in fact I walked 21.96 kms / 13.72 miles…give or take a few detours LOL

The second day was from Gravesend to Rochester where apparently Chaucer and his ‘press’ gang of hardy souls spent the night. Again I searched and searched and although I did find one very likely ‘inn’, after leaving 3 messages on their answering machine about wanting to book for a night, with no reply…I said “oh to heck with it ‘off with ye heads, ye daft bugas” and booked at another location that was close to the Cathedral.

Day 2 was without doubt hard. Although a much shorter distance, I was tired from the day before and really struggled to get my act together in the morning, and yes, EVERYTHING HURTS.

everything hurts

my daughter bought this t-shirt for me some months ago….apt! LOL

I had decided I wanted to get some more stamps in my Pilgrim’s Passport before setting off, so at 07:30 I walked back down into the town to look for an open church….the first 2 were a washout, but to be fair they were Anglican so their reply “we don’t have pilgrim stamps” was in retrospect, not surprising. After that I gave up and spent a few minutes walking around taking photos of the town whilst it was still quiet, bought a bowl of cherries and some bananas. The history of these towns is extraordinary and the more layers you peel back, the more you discover….I mean seriously 1568!!! Just wow.

History of Gravesend, Kent

History of Gravesend, Kent

Finally at just after 9am I set off along Old Road East towards Rochester 🙂 Hoorah! I was on my way. Shortly after setting off I reached a roundabout which had a mileage marker showing distances to various places; one of which was Rochester : 7.5 miles 🙂

Rochester 7.5 miles :)

Rochester 7.5 miles 🙂

Okay well that shouldn’t be too difficult….Hah!! famous last thoughts….it took bloody forever, but at that stage I wasn’t yet too tired, albeit still stiff from the day before and still excited about the walk. My post on instagram:

2017-07-10 08.58.33 1555696645857184093_231798962

Walked 4.21 kms and 80 minutes and I haven’t yet left Gravesend 😂😂😂
So just in case I hadn’t punished myself enough already, I decided I wanted to see my beautiful Thames one more time before I left and find some churches to get more stamps in my Pilgrim’s Passport.
Churches = 2
Stamps = 0
Cindy = 😡😢
Gravesend = fail!!! 😂😂😂 But oh the river, it is gorgeous. On my way I bought a bowl of cherries; it’s life after all, innit😉 
I’m now back from whence I started #OldPrinceofOrange and wishing I’d left Pepe at the pub and just checked out later 🤔🤔🤔🤔
The reason I’ve come back this way is coz the road I’ll be walking along; Old Road East, used to be the old road from London to Rochester, and I’m trying to be as authentic as possible 600 odd years later…I’ll pick up the Rochester road proper just a short way along. So I’m now on my way, I’ll try to not sit down anywhere coz by jove, it’s difficult to get back up again. And I’ve remembered why I wanted to leave early this morning….its already as humid as 🌋 Goodbye Gravesend, it’s been fun.’

I was hoping to arrive early enough to be able to visit the cathedral and obtain my pilgrim stamp and since Chaucer visited it would be entirely remiss of me if I didn’t!!! I was keen to see if I could find any traces of Bishops of the time or references to Chaucer.

My Pilgrim's Passport - duly stamped and a reference to Thomas Triller; Bishop of Rochester 1365-1372 who would have been Bishop at the time of Chaucer's pilgrimage

My Pilgrim’s Passport – duly stamped and a reference to Thomas Triller; Bishop of Rochester 1365-1372 who would have been Bishop at the time of Chaucer’s pilgrimage

I soon spotted another likely looking church, but no, it was not only locked, but they too didn’t have a Pilgrim’s stamp!! So a tad disappointed with the churches in Gravesend I mosied on and shortly reached what was a dual-carriageway and the real test of my resolve began…it’s horrible walking next to a busy road and by the 3rd day my throat was sore and scratchy from the care fumes. A young woman saw my backpack and asked me what I was doing 🙂 So lovely of her. We chatted for a while and then crossing the roundabout I saw what was the ONLY faint resemblance to a scallop shell that I was to see during my whole 3 days except for the sculpted glass doors at Rochester Cathedral.

Rochester Road.....the landscape at least was beautiful

Rochester Road…..the landscape at least was beautiful

The landscape across the fields and farmlands was really beautiful, the weather marvellous albeit already heating up considerably, and in the distance I could just make out the Thames estuary and shipping lane. Good to see so many windmills utilising natural resources.

A few kilometers later I saw a  sign for Chalk Village and decided to investigate.  Down Church Lane I found a scattering of houses and a church!! What a surprise 🙂 St Mary the Virgin aka Chalk Church was unfortunately closed but I decided that this would be a good place to rest a while.day 2 - higham The time was now just on 10am. The graveyard was, as most of them are, just lovely; restful and peaceful. I posted a couple of photos to instagram with these words ‘My current view; parish church Chalk Village – no pilgrims stamp 🤔🤔🤔 Today is about pain and endurance and endurance and pain, and energy sapping heat.
Bloody hell. It’s hot. I’m quite literally dragging my feet and just focusing on putting one in front of the other. I now know what it’s going to be like by day 3 on the Camino. It feels as if some gremlins have added another 10 kgs of bricks to the backpack; Pepe and I are not friends atm and I’d happily leave it right here if it wasn’t too expensive to buy another one 😆😆😆 Atm I really must rest. There’s no deadline. 5 miles to go 😐😐😓😓😓 The cherries taste good. 🍒🍒🍒’  and ‘Okay so I’ve caved in…decided to lie down in pastures green and have a proper rest; after all there’s no place like a graveyard for having a rest, right!! 😂😂😂 I shall commune with the souls of the dead for a wee bit 👻👻👻’

There has been a church in Chalk for well over a thousand years, but I stayed there only an hour; frankly I could have stayed right there the whole day!! About 30 minutes after setting off again I saw a welcome sign in the distance….food at The Copperfield!! I was famished by now, not yet having had breakfast besides the cherries.

Full English at The Copperfield, Rochester Road, Gravesend...or thereabouts

Full English at The Copperfield, Rochester Road, Gravesend…or thereabouts

I ordered the full-english and the ice-cream sundae as per the billboard advert Hah! You never get what you ask for….but I was so hungry that I wolfed the food down in no time at all. A pot of tea and a pee later and I was once again on my way.

Next amazing village was Higham where I discovered to my delight that not only had Charles Dickens lived there, but it was a Domesday Book village!! Awesome 🙂 At that stage I continued along the A226 towards Rochester but as I got to the roundabouts my nerve failed. There were no grass verges or sidewalk for me to safely continue my journey, so with a quick look at map my walk I notice a lane; Crutches Lane going off to the left further back, that looked a much better idea. I had walked a fair distance from Higham by then and it was a real slog to walk back again. But, to my delight as I neared Higham I notice a sign ‘Ancient church’…what??? How could I have missed that?

Higham. Domesday Village and once home to Charles Dickens

Higham. Domesday Village and once home to Charles Dickens

I promptly set off to investigate and leaving the main road I walked in the general direction of the church. By this stage I was thoroughly sick of having Pepe on my back. It was hot and the backpack felt like it weighed a ton! So you can imagine my delight when I saw a post office! I immediately made the decision to post some of the items from my backpack home; sandals: 385 grams, rain poncho: 395 grams (I was to regret sending this away the next day!!)  a note-book, a set of keys and a couple of other odds and ends – 1.5kgs later and Pepe felt much lighter. Hoorah! Then it was off along Hermitage Lane (don’t you just love that name?) to find the ‘Ancient Church’. Well as it turns out the ‘Ancient Church’ was another 4 kms away and I was NOT in the mood to be adding another 8 kms to my journey, so instead I knocked on the door of St John’s Church…..hellloooo!! A wonderful lady answered my call and after telling her my story she graciously provided me with loads of information and pamphlets with the history of the church and let me take photos. She also signed my Pilgrim’s Passport 🙂  Wonderful!!

St Peter's Church, Higham - a wonderful discovery

St Peter’s Church, Higham – a wonderful discovery

And then it was time to go…Rochester beckons and my energy was slipping away. I made my way back to the A226 and onto Crutches Lane (the names of the lanes are terrific). Crutches Lane provided me with very welcomed shade and although quite a few cars and vans passed me by, it was quiet and green and just a lovely walk. Sadly though the amount of garbage littering the lane, the bushes and embankments was dreadful. We really are swimming in a sea of rubbish.

Crutches Lane from one end to the other was in fact swimming in rubbish...although the landscape was beautiful, the garbage really spoilt it

Crutches Lane from one end to the other was in fact swimming in rubbish…although the landscape was beautiful, the garbage really spoilt it

By 14:50 I was on the A289 to Rochester. But it was still a fair way to go and a full 55 minutes before I finally saw the Medway and reached the bridge crossing to Rochester! Just before that whilst walking downhill I spied Rochester Castle through the trees in the distance and promptly burst into tears LOL. I was so tired, and so overwhelmed to be within spitting distance of my destination that I cried all the way down the hill and across the bridge!!

Rochester and the River Medway

Rochester and the River Medway; on the opposite bank is Rochester Castle

I had noticed, on the many facebook pages and blogs I’ve been reading, how people say they break down and sob when they reach Santiago…I now had an inkling of why. It’s overwhelming. I had by then been on the road for 8 hours and walking for 6 of those. Whew. At least I now know more or less what to expect when I’m walking the Camino in September, which was partly the reason for doing this walk; to see if I could actually manage. Well I can, but by jove it’s hard work. I love walking and walk a lot…but it’s a completely different ball-game when you have a 7.5kg backpack on your shoulders!

I had found a lovely place; Greystones B&B via booking.com; a Victorian Terraced house on the hill, and although it’s not in the same league historically as the other venues, it looked nice, got great reviews and was most importantly only 8 minutes walk from the cathedral.

Greystone B&B Rochester.

Greystones B&B Rochester. A lovely Victorian Terraced house. The proprietor Bill was very welcoming….I really enjoyed my stay

Rochester. Oh how much I do love thee…..and I shall tell you more about lovely, wonderful, amazing, extraordinary Rochester in my next blog.

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The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with One Step. Lao Tzu

Although I haven’t yet walked 1000 miles, and definitely not during these 3 days, by the time I started my Southwark to Canterbury pilgrimage I was very close to my target of walking 1000 miles in 2017; 661 miles : 1st January to 8th July  😃😃👣👣👣

Walk 1000 Miles

Walk 1000 Miles

Day 1: 09/07/2017 Southwark Cathedral to Gravesend – 15 miles

And as it turned out, my journey was not quite 15 miles…it was wayyy more!

Walked 34.09kms / 21.31 miles
Steps 47,636
Elevation: 90 meters

As per Prelude Day 2 I stayed at the YHA Thameside which is a favourite venue for when I stay in London. It’s close to the Thames and an easy walk into Southwark, plus it has fantastic views of the river and the city as you look upstream.

river thames view of london

You can’t argue with a view like that…wonder what Chaucer would make of it.

As with the first night I stayed there, the 2nd night was equally as noisy and I didn’t get settled till well after midnight with my alarm set for 04:30!!! Since it was so lat, said alarm was duly changed and I added an extra 45 minutes of sleep….then it was time to go and I set off for Southwark arriving at the cathedral at 3 minutes past 6am…a tad disappointed since I wanted to record the chimes, but hey ho…I did tarry to send a live facebook video and then set off.

Southwark Cathedral 06;03am 09/07/2017 and just before I set off on my epic walk #inthefootstepsofChaucer to Canterbury

Southwark Cathedral 06:03am 09/07/2017 and just before I set off on my epic walk #inthefootstepsofChaucer to Canterbury

I was expecting the streets to be quiet and still, but no, dozens of people spilled out onto the sidewalks from the nightclubs near London Bridge and a similar lot sprawled in the streets and on the pavements. To say I was surprised would be an understatement; the night-life in London is alive and well.

I followed the Thames Path starting at St Olave’s House and walked along The Queen’s Walkway to Tower Bridge. From there I continued along to St Saviour’s Dock footbridge, intending to cross the creek off Butler’s Wharf…but I was too early…it was still locked!

The view from Butler's Wharf looking back upstream of the Thames towards Tower Bridge and the City of London

The view from Butler’s Wharf looking back upstream of the Thames towards Tower Bridge and the City of London

That bloody awful walkie talkie building #20 Fenchurch, really ruins the view of Tower Bridge. St Saviour’s Dock was originally a tidal inlet notorious for pirates attacking ships docked in the area. The gate of the footbridge being locked (opens at 07:30am in case you wondered) entailed a massive detour and I finally got back onto the Thames Path near Bermondsey Beach. ‘Thames Path’ is a bit of a misnomer since you cannot walk alongside the river as the ‘path’ weaves under and around apartments built over and right on the banks of the river, which means you have to make a great number of detours around industrial sites and blocks of apartments, but never no mind, there’s a fair bit of river path further along.

I soon passed The Angel Pub and the remains of Edward III’s Manor House. It’s so intriguing to see these remnants, one of his smaller residences built in 1350, surely it must have been there when Chaucer and his pilgrims travelled to Canterbury in 1368. I wonder if Chaucer popped in for tea on his way?

King Edward III Manor House, Rotherhithe

King Edward III Manor House, Rotherhithe

Next up I passed The Mayflower Pub c 1620 (In July 1620, the Mayflower ship took on board 65 passengers from its London home-port of Rotherhithe on the River Thames.) 2 miles to London Bridge…which means I still had another 58 miles to Canterbury *waillll*

The Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe and London Bridge 2 Miles

The Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe and London Bridge 2 Miles

As I walked past the YHA near Old Salt Quay once again, I was tempted to stop for breakfast, but decided to push on since I had only just started walking. 😉 Frankly I wishing I was back in bed!!

Making good time (still fresh at that stage LOL) I soon passed the Surrey Docks Farm London which was also still closed, so once again I had to make a detour, and made my way back to the river near Greenland Dock Old Lock with Canary Wharf in my sights across the river. And again I had to make a detour – there are so many sections of the Thames Path closed it’s a ruddy joke Urgh. I’m sure I added on at least another 2-3 miles just with all the detours. Chaucer obviously knew what he was doing by following Tooley Street instead of the ‘Thames Path’ hahaha.

By now I had walked just on 1 hour; Canary Wharf in my sights

By now I had walked just on 1 hour; Canary Wharf in my sights

I trundled along, getting used to having Pepe on my back, drinking often, stopping occasionally and munching dried apricots, enjoying the peace and quiet of the suburbs. Suddenly I could see Greenwich and the Cutty Sark on the horizon!! Hooray! It was now 08:39 and I hurried past St Peter the Great and hoorah!! to my great delight there is now a footbridge that crosses the Deptford Creek. When I did this walk in 2011 I had to make a detour at this stage. So much has changed here I could hardly believe it. There’s now a fantastic pathway all the way into Greenwich! Brilliant. Deptford Creek was listed as one of Chaucer’s stops….for lunch, dinner or to sleep?

Peter the Great Statue at Deptford Creek, looking back upstream just past Deptford Creek and the Cutty Sark in Greenwich

Peter the Great Statue at Deptford Creek, looking back upstream just past Deptford Creek and the Cutty Sark in Greenwich

By now I was hungry so made my way over to Costa Coffee for an almond croissant and a cup of much needed tea. It was here that I got my 3rd Pilgrim’s ‘stamp’ handwritten like most of those I got at restaurants and hotels…..the internet has seen the demise of the Company Stamp 😦

one of my favourite pasties; almond croissant, enjoyed with a pot of tea at my favourite 'coffee' cafe :)

one of my favourite pasties; almond croissant, enjoyed with a pot of tea at my favourite ‘coffee’ cafe 🙂

I love Greenwich and spent a short while looking around and then set off for Woolwich. Walking was more straightforward now with the path more or less following the river with few detours. I reached North Greenwich and the O2 at 11:02 and stopped there for lunch; 2 bananas, a tub of yoghurt and a large slab of chocolate….I needed the sugar okay!! Don’t judge LOL – North Greenwich is such an interesting area and I enjoyed walking along the path; tempted to take a ferry I asked about the next ship but it was too far off…so off I went; the old feet will have to suffice 😉

my lunch, O2 Millenium Dome North Greenwich and Quantum Cloud

my lunch, O2 Millenium Dome North Greenwich and Quantum Cloud

By 12:28 I could see the Thames Barrier! Hoorah. It was also very hot and humid by this stage and my feet were beginning to drag…but onwards.

The Thames Barrier is just awesome and I love visiting the area. I stopped to rest for a while and made myself comfortable on a bench looking upstream. I was already tired from the heat and feeling parched despite drinking copious amounts of water.

The amazing Thames Barrier; keeping London safe from flooding

The amazing Thames Barrier; keeping London safe from flooding

After resting for about 15 minutes I shrugged back into my harness and Pepe on my back set off again…..for about 3 minutes…as I reached the top of the stairs I saw The View Cafe and on impulse stopped for a much needed cup of tea…and a piece of cake 🙂 I was burning up energy like nobody’s business. Well that’s my reason anyway!

the view cafe thames barrier

The View Cafe, provided a welcome break after the break LOL

Just before 2pm I set off again…..Woolwich in my sights.  The Thames Path along this section really lives up to it’s name and I so enjoyed walking alongside the river. At 14:34 I arrived in Woolwich. By now I was serious about getting a ferry for the rest of the route to Dartford or Gravesend (ideally); I asked about their downstream routes – hah! there isn’t one! Why ever not? Anyway by now I was baking in the sun and simply had to rest…I had been walking for approximately 6.5 hours plus the 2 stops and with the unaccustomed weight of Pepe on my back I was shattered. I found a green spot on the grass under a tree and made myself comfortable; soon falling asleep. I woke with the sounds of ‘someone’ snoring hahaha – and with much moaning and groaning I managed to get up…gosh, my old bones. I had to ask a chap sitting nearby to help me get my backpack on as I simply didn’t have sufficient energy to lift it up and onto my back.

You are here....almost there; Royal Arsenal Woolwich and the Anthony Gormley sculptures, the The Royal Brass Foundry (1717) and Gun and Carriage

You are here….almost there; Royal Arsenal Woolwich and the Anthony Gormley sculptures, the The Royal Brass Foundry (1717) and Gun and Carriage

By 4pm I was on my way again. I had two goals at this stage 1) to find the WW2 bunker (found) and 2) Skegness Lighthouse…. (not found) – it was another 8 miles!!! By then I was to heck with that, I’ve had enough.  The sun was baking down, my water was running low and my energy had been sapped. By 16:20 I made the decision to find a bus. By now I had walked 28.74 kms and had reached Thamesmead which I thought was Erith..it wasn’t!! and I was beginning to feel like North South East West; home would be best! 🙂

The WW2 Pillbox on the Thames Path near Thamesmead, looking downstream, and NSEW

The WW2 Pillbox on the Thames Path near Thamesmead, looking downstream, and NSEW

After much ado; 2 bus rides and a short train journey I finally arrived in Gravesend. My plans to visit Dartford and the Queen Elizabeth Bridge scrapped for another time. Just the journey from Thamesmead where I took the first bus till I arrived at Gravesend station was 26.14 kms….there was no way I would have been able to walk all that way. I’m guessing google maps is not quite correct when it tells you the distances or the number of hours it will take to walk. Or maybe I should learn to walk without 10 million detours!!

Checking ‘map my walk’ I located the location of The Old Prince of Orange; I quite liked the sound of this ‘old’ inn that I found via Booking.com – originally a coaching inn on the route to Rochester that went via Old Road East and the Rochester Road. Although not quite from Chaucer’s time, the original building was built in the 17th century (1633). That building was demolished in 1933 and the present building erected.

The Old Prince of Orange, Gravesend....my Day 1 accommodation. Originally a 17th century Inn on the London to Rochester Road

The Old Prince of Orange, Gravesend….my Day 1 accommodation. Originally a 17th century Inn on the London to Rochester Road

After exhaustive searching, this was the ‘oldest’ inn I could find that offered accommodation, and so even though the current building is new, it’s located on the site of the original…and was be my abode for the first night of my Southwark to Canterbury journey; perhaps they may even have some left over ghosts – (I didn’t see or hear any, too tired hahaha).

Welcomed at the Old Prince by a lovely young man; Louis, I was shown to my room; not posh by any means, but comfortable and cozy and quiet. I had a separate bathroom with the tiniest shower ever!!! LOL. There was also a kettle and ingredients for tea! VIP!!

But before I lay my weary head to rest I’d planned to sup at The Three Daws in Gravesend. After a quick hot shower I set off for The Three Daws where I enjoyed a most delicious meal of scampi and chips with mushy peas and a pint.  The staff at The Three Daws were amazing and Josie really made my evening. She was kind enough to accommodate my constantly changing eta, and when I finally reached Gravesend she took my supper order over the phone and as I walked into the pub my meal was ready!! Impressive customer service.

The Three Daws, Gravesend - oldest pub in the town

The Three Daws, Gravesend – oldest pub in the town

Early records indicated a public house was located at this site as early as the 15th century. The Three Daws is now the oldest public house in the town and probably the oldest pub in Kent with its mixture of timber framing, weather-boarding and tiled roof. According to the blurb, this historic riverside inn dates back to the 1400’s, is steeped with tales of smugglers tunnels, press gangs and tales from the Napoleonic wars, with the obligatory hauntings. Perfect! Just a shame they don’t offer accommodation 😉 http://www.threedaws.co.uk/about-the-three-daws

Journey’s end for Day 1 of my Southwark to Canterbury pilgrimage offered a wonderful sunset to perfectly end off my first day of walking….and so to bed! Gravesend is also one of the Domesday Book ‘villages’ from 1085 and to to be able to spend the night there was awesome…..Project 101 continues apace 🙂

sunset at Gravesend on the River Thames

sunset at Gravesend on the River Thames

Join me on instagram @notjustagranny where I post images from my various adventures around the UK and Europe. Next up is the finale of my #SouthwarktoCanterbury pilgrimage #inthefootstepsofChaucer and a 2 day Way of St Augustine walk between Ramsgate and Canterbury 🙂 #WayofStAugustine – see you on instagram 🙂

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