Excellent weather for walking the Pilgrims’ Way today. The route from Winchester to Canterbury follows the line of the St Swithuns’ Way from Winchester up to Farnham and I covered this on days one, day two and day three of my trek. At Farnham it joins the North Downs’ Way and heads East. Sometimes the North Downs’ Way runs along the line of the Pilgrims’ Way and sometimes it is higher up the escarpment. It is however, much better signposted. Today I had a choice whether to stick mostly to the higher signposted North Downs’ Way or the flatter, not well-signposted (so far as I could see) older track of the Pilgrims’ Way. I decided to rely on my map reading skills. Thank you Dad, all those holidays driving across Europe with the map spread out on the bonnet showing me how far we had to go and those times you explained to me what contour lines were for and the different sorts of church steeples have all paid off. I do seem to be able to read a map reasonably well.
It was a great walk. For some reason whilst in Surrey I did not feel so much like a “pilgrim” but today reminders of the old journeyers began to appear again. One of the lanes was called “The Pilgrims’ Way” (couldn’t go wrong there, then), I passed two “Pilgrim Farms” and a “Pilgrim House”.
On crossing the B2024 I moved from Surrey into Kent. No apple orchards as yet, but plenty of grapes!
The lanes were quiet with little traffic, just a few cyclists. I met no other walkers. For much of the route the M25 was close by, but although I could just about see it if I looked hard through the hedges until the end of the walk when I crossed it I noticed no noise at all.
It was interesting when I reached Chevening Park. There are several old estates on the traditional pilgrims’ route where the direct track had to be diverted when grand houses were built and the landowners didn’t want people walking through their land. Chevening (owned at various times by the Government and the Crown ; it is the Foreign Secretary’s official residence at present – but not following the news I have no idea who that is now!!) was one such place; there has been no way through since 1792. I had to take a fair diversion around it, but it wasn’t really a problem. I looked at the wall surrounding it and it did cause me to meditate about how we as people and as a society build walls around ourselves and others. And despite all the growth we hopefully go through in our personal relationships and all that history has taught us we continue to do so. To protect ourselves – is how we justify it. I will leave that one with you to ponder!
St Botolph Church in Chevening is a delight. St Botolph was known as a wayfarer’s saint and this was recognised in the Church.
I am grateful to be staying in superb accommodation tonight. In fact my room is almost too high tech for me! There are lights in the cupboards and really posh air conditioning. Shiny steel knobs, switches and buttons! ………. and strangely, a Buddha in the gardens!
Actually I have had to learn a lot of IT skills writing this blog and that has been good for me. Once I had to text my son to help remotely with an IT problem but apart from that I have managed to master WI FI in each different hotel, working out what cable to connect to what each night, charging things up, downloading, uploading, whatever and it has increased my independence. How fortunate to have the best of both worlds – the beautiful countryside and the technology to be able to share it with those unable to be out walking. I am so grateful of my privileged position in being able to do this gratitude walk and my health and all my senses to be able to appreciate the beauty around me.
Talking of gratitude to my Dad, and also talking of St Botolph (and on my way to Becket’s shrine)………….. I thought I’d continue with my DJ bit (thanks Fi for the text!) and play a song that he knows all the words to! He taught me about Billy Minter, too. ( Come On City!)…..
Here is a full index of my post of my Gratitude Walk along the Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester to Canterbury
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