Day 4 of the Pilgrims’ Way: Farnham to Chilworth
Walking day four of the Pilgrims’Way from Winchester to Canterbury was the first time since my blessing at Winchester Cathedral that I really began to feel like I was a pilgrim and that I was walking the old trackways. Much of this feeling came, I think from wearing my scallop shell around my neck prominently rather than discretely by my side. It enabled and somehow gave me permission to outwardly show my purpose and let go further of “real world” concerns. It also meant that people approached me and asked me about my pilgrimage.
The route today from Farnham to Guildford was full of symbolism and beauty and reminders of “The Way”.
Leaving the hotel knowing that my luggage was in safe hands I soon was out in the countryside again. I passed a pumpkin field (another reminder that summer is almost over), walked through woods, and noticed very quickly that the terrain underfoot had changed to sand.
As the day went on the route got sandier and sandier, until at times it almost felt like I was walking on a beach. I expected to turn a corner at any time and see the sea.
Just past Farnham Golf Club I passed a couple walking their white staffie. I told them it was unlikely I would remember their names (!) but the dog was called “Percy”. Quite inspirationally the chap had hiked most of the S West Coastal Path wild camping but had to return home during atrocious weather. We discussed how he wanted to go back and complete it “properly”. What is it about some of us, I wonder, that we have this kind of perfectionism, this wish for proper completion of matters? I have this as well, I know . If there are sections of this walk I cannot complete for one reason or another, will I be able to rest easy and let it be?
Eventually I reached the pretty village of Puttenham. I had planned to stop here for a drink at the community pub, but I was making good time and was too early. I carried on and crossed the nearby road instead and met a lady working in her garden who re-filled my water bottle for me. She had been rabbit-proofing her garden because so many rabbits came across from the nearby golf club. We had a lovely chat and she was kind enough to give me some cash to donate to the Mencap Summer Club – Just Giving link here..(So there we are Leighton Buzzard, you are heard of in Puttenham now!)
I went through a subway to cross the busy A3, but what a wonderful sight on top of the bridge. A pair of crosses on the original bridge by Lutyens, designed by Mary Seton Watts. Just on from this was the Watts Gallery, the perfect place for a light lunch. Here my scallop shell was recognised and I was welcomed. Frederick Watts was a Victorian painter and his wife in particular was interested in pilgrim symbolism. I visited the gardens and the memorial chapel. The picture hardly does the paintings justice.
It was a long peaceful journey along the next section of the way to the outskirts of Guildford. Again I was alone save for the birdsong. The Pilgrims’ Way runs by the ruins of St Catherine’s Chapel and at the top I got talking to the leader of a party from an organisation called HALOW who work with young adults with learning difficulties. I was reminded again, of my fundraising efforts. How I got down the steep sandy hill from the chapel and across to the banks of the River Wey I will never know. H had told me there would be a time when I would use the phrase “my trusty staff came in useful” and this was certainly it.
The heat grew and just when it was at its most intense I entered Chantries wood – a haven of shade.
St Martha’s Chapel
The long steep sandy climb up to St Martha’s Hill and Chapel was worth every breathe.
Today I am tired by the heat; I have a small blister coming on my toe which I need to take care of; despite taking antihistimines I have heat rash; something has bitten me; I am trying to work out how on earth to dry some clothes with a fan and hairdryer which I washed (which I think was a bad idea in retrospect) – but I am happy and grateful. I have a posh coffee machine in my room and so am working my way through all those pretty little capsules that look like sweets (that could be a mistake as well!). Hopefully it will be cooler tomorrow.
Here is a full index of my post of my Gratitude Walk along the Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester to Canterbury
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