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Walked 14.5 km. 52282 steps. 

I’d ordered breakfast at the hotel for today so before setting out to explore I partook of the typical European Continental breakfast ; bread, jam, cheese and juice. Not my usual breakkie but better than the dried out croissant I had in Venice. LOL

Just after 10am I set off out into a beautiful day. Roads familiar to me now led me back towards the cemetery which I was keen to explore. Wow, there are hundreds if mausoleums, some almost as big as our house.

From there I followed my nose towards the city centre, walking here and there depending on what caught my eye.

I visited a fabulous cathedral where I got my first official pilgrim’s stamp. I was so thrilled I almost cried. The gentleman who stamped my passport told me he had also walked the Camino and wished me Buen Camino. 🙂 it gave me goosebumps. Happiness is.

From there I strode down a very steep hill to what turned out to be the Clerigos church and tower. A 45 minute wait to climb the steps for the most incredible views of Porto.

Afterwards I set off towards another cathedral I had seen; Catedral Se. Cathedral of Porto. Wow, I tell you what, they sure knew how to build churches in those days. 

It’s fascinating. I bought the ticket to explore the cloisters, the exhibition, sacristy and climb more steps to the ramparts above the cloisters  I found a small wooden statue of St James as a pilgrim upstairs 🙂 I also obtained my 2nd pilgrim’s stamp.

 After my visit I wended my way downhill following the route that marks the start of the Camino from Porto. Then walking back I visited the Sao Bento Station. By golly its beautiful.

From there I walked to and over the Pte Luiz I bridge and made my way uphill to visit the monastery I could see perched above the river.

 It turned out to be linked to St August in which is brilliant. A link to my Way of St Augustine walk in July. It’s an incredible church, the cloisters and church are both round and of exactly the same size.

After climbing the tower (and that is it, I’m not climbing any more towers!!) but the views were outstanding so it was worth the effort.

 I crossed back over the bridge and went to visit the Lello Bookshop. But at 5 euro I decided to wait till Sunday as I don’t want to go over budget.

Instead I visited another 2 amazing churches

 

and then bought a pastry that looked and tasted delicious. I’ve no idea what the filling was and I’m not asking.

While munching I meandered down hill now towards the river front. Magical. Just in time for the sunset, which was beautiful. I again crossed the Pte Luiz

 I and wandered along the waterfront on the opposite bank of the River Duoro.

By now it was getting dark do I stopped at a small restaurant for French fries… Not very Portuguese but they were good. To my delight I noticed a scallop shell and Pilgrim’s sign. I nearly cried again. Now it’s real.

After eating, I  set off back to my hotel and just for good measure climbed another very steep hill.

Then bath and bed. What a fantastic day. I said ola and obrigado a lot today 🙂 

And now I can officially say that I’ve visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the medieval city of Porto  

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After a very early start, a long day in transit between home and Porto, I arrived safely at my hotel.

To my amazement and delight I spied a Costa at the airport in Porto. I immediately ordered an iced cappuccino and spent the next 30 minutes just gathering my thoughts and relaxing…. Felt like home.

I’ve found the Metro to be so easy to use. It’s very much like the Overground trains in London, but better coz the stations are mostly open from the streets with no barriers and steps etc.

After checking in at my hotel, home for the next 4 nights,  I went walkabout.

There’s something so thrilling about being in a foreign city where you are to all intents and purposes invisible. No-one knows who you are. You don’t know where you are. And taking that first walk into the unknown is just amazing.

I love just meandering. Although tonight I didn’t meander so much as set out purposefully to see the river. Wow.

Perfect evening with a rose pink sunset. After heading back towards the hotel, I stopped enroute at a local restaurant for a most yummy meal of cod fritters with bean rice… Delicious.

As I stepped back out into the sidewalk I noticed the big old moon hanging fat and bulbous in the sky like a fat, ripe apricot. A fabulous full moon. 

Life is good.

Walked 3.8 km.  6382 steps

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I remember the first time I saw Arundel Castle in the distance from the train. I nearly fell off my seat in excitement. Just a quick look as we whizzed past was enough to make me foam at the mouth…I HAVE to go there. That was about 6 or 7 years ago LOL Meanwhile life got in the way and work prevailed and I had so many other places to go to too! But finally, as part of my current Project 101, I set the date and squeezed in a few days between assignments. The market town of Arundel was finally on my horizon.

the Market Town of Arundel; a Domesday Book village

the Market Town of Arundel; a Domesday Book village

Oh my gosh, my excitement as we chuffed into town knew no bounds. I had booked accommodation via AirBnB and my host very kindly collected me from the station…huge suitcase and backpack…we only just managed to squeeze it all into her car!! I had arrived quite late in the day, having come straight from an assignment so even though it was too late to visit the castle, it wasn’t too late to go see it. 🙂 My host directed me towards the riverside and before too long I was on my way.

The River Arun heading upstream towards Arundel Castle

The River Arun heading upstream towards Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle is truly a fairy-tale castle. It is beautiful; turrets, and towers, hidden corners, a moat and all thin windows; you could almost expect to see Rapunzel let down her hair…it is exactly that type of castle. It also reminded me very much of the Disney castle in Florida. Just a different colour. 😉 Just wow.

arundel castle

Arundel Castle

As I walked along the River Arun drawing closer to the town the castle loomed large on it’s rocky promontory, towering over the village and river below. You can believe that it would have been an intimidating sight for travellers of old. How I longed to be able to sail into the town on a boat…how awesome that would be. The River Arun is a tidal river which I didn’t at first realise. As I walked along the riverbank I remember thinking how interesting it was that it flowed so fast….what I didn’t realise at the time was that the tide was going out. Later on after my walk I checked the mapmywalk app and that’s when I realised it flowed into the English Channel at Littlehampton and is tidal as far inland as Pallingham Quay, 25.5 miles (41.0 km) upstream from the sea. A series of small streams form its source in the area of St Leonard’s Forest in the Weald, West Sussex. It’s the longest river entirely in Sussex.

Te River Arun

The River Arun

Within 10 minutes I was in Arundel proper 🙂 whoo whoo. Oh my gosh the houses are lovely. I passed the oldest pub in Arundel; The King’s Arms C1625 wow. I popped in for a quick look but sadly it’s fairly dull with no outstanding features beyond it’s age.

King's Arms, Arundel

King’s Arms, Arundel

I decided to walk up the hill; Kings Arms Hill which is clearly a medieval street with marvellous cobblestones from top to bottom.

Kings Arms Hill, Arundel

Kings Arms Hill, Arundel

At the very top on the hill I could see what to me was an utter surprise….the cathedral!!! I seriously had not see it before..or perhaps I did but was so enchanted with the view of the castle it didn’t register at the time. But oh my word, did it ever register now!!! It is fantastic and reminds me ever so much of the Notre Dame in Paris with pointed arches, steep-sloping roofs and fancy carvings. Gorgeous!!!

Cathedral in Arundel

Cathedral in Arundel

The architectural style is French Gothic (hence the reason it reminded me of the Notre Dame), and the interior is simply stunning. I had no idea what to expect, but when I stepped in through the door I stopped dead in my tracks, my mouth agape and all I could say was wow wow wow. Not one of my finest descriptions!! LOL It is so beautiful that you can’t quite believe what you’re seeing. Not overly ornate as some cathedrals tend to be, it’s better described as exquisite….the cream stone arches soar heavenwards to a vaulted ceiling, light streaming through the windows captured dust motes dancing like delicate fairies on the sunbeams in the otherwise still air.

Cathedral in Arundel

Cathedral in Arundel

I wafted around in sheer bliss just absorbing the elegant stillness and admiring the gentle beauty of the arches and niched sculptures and the large rose window adorned with exquisite stained glass. The Lady Chapel can best be described as serene.

The Lady Chapel, Cathedral Arundel

The Lady Chapel, Cathedral Arundel

I love these churches. So simple, so elegant, so beautiful. I stopped at the shrine to St Philip Howard. Quite an extraordinary story.

St Philip Howard, Arundel Cathedral

St Philip Howard, Arundel Cathedral

I could have stayed for hours, but I had a castle to see….I was saving my first glimpse, savouring the anticipation 🙂

During my walk I noticed a fantastic 14th century church; The Parish and Priory Church of Saint Nicholas Arundel…although the church proper was closed at that time I did explore the churchyard and planned to visit the next day.

The Parish and Priory Church of Saint Nicholas Arundel

The Parish and Priory Church of Saint Nicholas Arundel

I meandered the streets, slowly making my way towards the castle. I passed a divine little cottage; the Bakers Arms Cottage, at the junction of Maltravers Streets and Bakers Arms Hill, is a British listed building with a pitched tile roof, is timber-framed and fronted with red brick. Absolutely fabulous. There are so many wonderful old houses in the town ranging from 15th – 19th century, many of which are British listed buildings. The history in those houses is just phenomenal.

Bakers Arms Cottage, Arundel

Bakers Arms Cottage, Arundel

I stopped to marvel at the Town Hall – just an amazing building that looked more like a medieval gate than a town hall.

Town Hall, Arundel

Town Hall, Arundel

The High Street is home to a darling array of wonderful old buildings, one of which had sections cut out of the facade exposing the original flint wall and beams behind. Amazing!!! I loved the configuration at the end of the street forming a V with a tiny island that played host to an amazing War memorial. I was so pleased to note that there were few of the usual High Street chains; Tesco, Starbucks, Sainsburys and so on. Although there were a few charity shops mostly it was artisan bakers or antique stores, a local butcher and a few bookshops and of course a number of antique stores.

High Street shops in Arundel

High Street shops in Arundel

From there I made my way over to the castle entrance….To my intense disappointment the castle gates were already closed but I did walk along the avenue of trees on the perimeter and managed to get a fantastic image of the silhouette with the sun setting behind. My daughter was due to visit and spend a night with me in a couple of days and we agreed to visit at that time; wow, what an extraordinary place.

Arundel Castle, Arundel

Arundel Castle, Arundel

I crossed over towards the river and noticed that it was now flowing in the opposite direction….ahhh, a tidal river 🙂 I explored the remains of the Dominican Friary and then crossed the old town bridge.

Blackfriars Dominican Priory, Arundel

Blackfriars Dominican Priory, Arundel

Arundel was registered as a port in 1071 and by the mid 19th century the Arun was linked by canals to London and Portsmouth. By the early 20th century the port was moved to Little Hampton. On another day, when the tide was way out, I noticed the remains of the wharves sticking up out the mud. Intriguing.

Arundel Bridge and the River Arun

Arundel Bridge and the River Arun

On the other side of the bridge I noticed a now well-recognised wooden stake with a couple of discs nailed to it…hah! On closer inspection one of them hinted at what looks like a brilliant walk (?) The Monarch’s Way – a 615 mile walking trail following the escape of Charles II after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. oh my gosh. I need another lifetime LOL The Monarch’s Way is one of the longest of all English long distance footpaths. The Way follows the path taken by Prince Charles II as he fled to France following the sound thrashing of his army at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 in the English Civil War. At my current pace I should be able to walk that in ….oh maybe 41 days or 2 months. Hmmmm

I had a fab view of the castle as I crossed the bridge. On my way back to the B&B I noticed the Arundel coat of arms on the riverbank ‘Antiqua Constans Virtute‘ – Steadfast in ancient virtue. In case you’re interested here is a link to the details of the coat of arms.

Arundel coat of arms

Arundel coat of arms

I waked along Tarrant Street and noticed a fabulous old building; Belinda’s 16th Century Restaurant. A friend of mine on instagram, Pete and I had arranged to meet the next day for tea and cake…this seemed like the perfect venue, and so it was. We enjoyed a delicious tray of scones with jam and cream and a large pot of tea.

Belinda's 16th Century Restaurant, Arundel

Belinda’s 16th Century Restaurant, Arundel

I had the most perfect weather that evening so decided to walk downstream along the river to the town precincts where I had earlier notice an intriguing looking house and then home to bed.

River Arun Arundel

River Arun Arundel

After a bit of a lie-in the next day, I made my way back along the river into town and enjoyed a most wonderfully relaxing day meandering around the town, taking hundreds of photos, popping in at the antique shops, the Castle Chocolate shop where I bought some delicious chocolates and met Clive with the lovely smile, then over to the castle (seriously I could not wait to visit), then made my way over to the fabulous Swanbourne Boating Lake.

Swanbourne Lake, Arundel

Swanbourne Lake, Arundel

I had just intended a brief walk, but it was so beautiful out and the lake looked so lovely, the shady green trees inviting and since I had much time on my hands I decided to walk right around the whole lake….I’m glad I did, it was wonderful. ‘Amidst a backdrop of chalk cliffs & trees you’ll find Swanbourne Lake which has been in existence since pre-doomsday and is home to waterfowl of many varieties.‘ Apparently in 1989 when the lake dried up one summer, they discovered the remnants of a WW2 plane that had been shot down over Arundel. A German Ju88A01 was shot down on 13th August 1940 at 6.30am. Two of the airmen baled out and survivied, one baled out but die and the 4th baled out but was mortally wounded and died of his wounds a couple of days later. If you’re interested here are some facts about Arundel.

After my lakeside walk I crossed over the road and decided to walk back to town along the riverbanks. From the river, across the fields of green, you have the most amazing view of the castle on it’s hill with the town nestling at the foot.

Arundel Castle West Sussex

Arundel Castle West Sussex

I met up with Pete in the early afternoon and we had that most enjoyable tea and a lovely conversation at Belinda’s after which I walked him back to his car….for which I was rewarded with a lift back to the town 😉 After saying goodbye I set off downstream of the river once again and walked and walked, leaving Arundel far behind…such a gorgeous day.

Looking back upstream towards Arundel Castle

Looking back upstream towards Arundel Castle

After a very late start on the 17th I set off once again to explore the town and to visit the 14th century church; the Parish church of St Nicholas. Phenomenal. I’m always amazed that these places survive for so long and often remain a hive of activity in the community. The church was hosting a number of sculptures when I visited; part of a week’s events with sculptures around the town – a trail you could follow. The Priory Alms Houses next door were stunning and I was dying to get behind the gates and into one of them to see!! The Domesday Book records that a Church, dedicated to St Nicholas, existed during the reign of Edward the Confessor between the years 1042 – 1066.

Parish Church of St Nicholas, Arundel

Parish Church of St Nicholas, Arundel

I spent a fascinating 30 minutes exploring the church. There are remnants of some fabulous medieval paintings on the walls, which like many others I’ve seen in the churches on my Southwark to Canterbury walk, are quite simply amazing.

Parish Church of St Nicholas, Arundel

medieval paintings and brasses Parish Church of St Nicholas, Arundel

It’s incredible that they have survived at all. From inside the church you can see through a full-length glass wall into the The Fitzalan Chapel which is only accessible via the castle grounds and wherein are buried family members of the Dukes of Norfolk and Earls of Arundel. (we visited that side of the church during our visit to the castle).

Parish Church of St Nicholas, Arundel and the Fitzalan Chapel

Parish Church of St Nicholas, Arundel and the Fitzalan Chapel

My daughter arrived later that night and after a cup of tea and a chat we went into town for supper. It was so much fun having her there with me. We visited the castle the following day and bought the Gold ticket which gave us access to the gardens, the Norman keep, the Castle and the bedrooms.

Arundel Castle in one word : amazing!!! Sadly we were not allowed to take photos inside the castle, but I managed to slip in one or two before being told off LOL The grounds of the castle are huge with incredibly beautiful gardens you can lose yourself in.

Arundel Castle, West Sussex - home to the Dukes of Norfolk and Earls of Arundel

Arundel Castle, West Sussex – home to the Dukes of Norfolk and Earls of Arundel

We saw a most extraordinary sight in one of the formal gardens; The Collector Earl’s Garden – conceived as a light-hearted tribute to Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel (1585-1646), known as ‘The Collector’ who died in exile in Padua during the English Civil War, the gardens are beautifully laid out with the grand centrepiece a rock-work ‘mountain’ planted with palms and rare ferns to represent another world. This supports a green oak version of ‘Oberon’s Palace’, a fantastic spectacle designed by Inigo Jones for Prince Henry’s Masque on New Year’s Day 1611. Flanked by two green oak obelisks, the rock-work contains a shell-lined interior with a stalagmite fountain and gilded coronet ‘dancing’ on top of the jet.

Oberon's Palace and the Dancing Crown, Arundel Castle

Oberon’s Palace and the Dancing Crown, Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle has been the seat of the Howard’s ancestors since 1102. A snippet of interest: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed in Arundel Castle from December 1 to 3, 1846. Victoria notes in her diary for December 2 that year: “After breakfast, Albert and I sallied forth by a back way and walked along a path below the castle, commanding an extensive view, which put us in mind of the slopes at Windsor. The garden is very pretty and full of evergreens, which made Albert extremely jealous for Osborne House.”

We spent a few hours meandering around the gardens, visited the Fitzalan Chapel, the Norman keep,

views across West Sussex from the Norman Keep of Arundel CAstle

The Norman Keep, Arundel Castle

where you have the most amazing views across the castle grounds, the town, the river and far across the fields. Stunning.

views across West Sussex from the Norman Keep of Arundel CAstle

views across West Sussex from the Norman Keep of Arundel CAstle

The castle is still home to the Duke of Norfolk and most of the rooms are used on a daily basis…except when visitors are about. The private chapel is absolutely astounding, the library was incredible and some of the bedrooms just fabulous. We even saw the bed and bedroom where Queen Victoria slept during her visit. The halls and rooms are filled with paintings, statues, a Faberge sculpture, magnificent tapestries and some of the most interesting artefacts. There is a photocopy of a letter from Elizabeth I and some absolutely fabulous treasures.

a peek inside Arundel Castle

a peek inside Arundel Castle

Although not very big, and easily managed in a day’s sightseeing, Arundel is chock a block with oodles of history and you must set aside at least 3 hours for a visit to the castle, there’s so much to see.

And thus endeth my journey to Arundel to see a castle. With this trip I have added to 4 categories on Project 101; which now brings the totals to : Castles: 39 Cathedrals: 27 Rivers: 39 and Domesday Book villages: 106. 🙂

I’ll write more about Arundel Castle, the Fitzalan Chapel and The Parish Church of St Nicholas at a later stage. I’m preparing for my Camino 2017 and must focus on that.

 

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol5/pt1/pp10-101

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Over the past 18 months or so I have read many many articles and blogs about or relating to the Camino de Santiago. Most (95%) are positive and uplifting with the emphasis on sharing the pilgrimage with fellow walkers, getting to know them, sharing experiences both good and bad, sharing a table, helping others who are struggling, cheering on those who are doing well…… regardless of whether they are walking for religious, spiritual or bucket list reasons.

But every so often whether on a group thread, a Facebook page or a forum, you’d get that one person who had missed out on the ‘spirit’ of the Camino and makes an unnecessarily negative and judgemental comment like this one I saw on the Confraternity of St James’s page: “I don’t like the cheapening of the experience by commercializing it. I walked it 3 times and it was the most extraordinary spiritual experience. Tourists on walking holiday, as long as there aren’t too many, will hopefully not ruin it for pilgrims“. I’ll leave you to make your own decision on that comment.

I remembered a thoughtful post, 10 Commandments of the Santiago de Compostela, I’d read some months ago on the Camino de Santiago forum and I’m sharing it here in it’s entirety; these are not my words, but rather the words of the writer on the forum ( I’ve added the link below):

“There are many articles offering tips for walking The Camino. This selection is one pilgrim’s views and I do not apologize for any you disagree with or for not including any you believe should be included. This is my Camino:

I. Thou Shalt Do Your Own Camino: This is a personal journey and you walk, ride, crawl for your own reasons. Walk 5k or 20k or 40k per day. There is no right or wrong. Follow your heart and soul.

II. Thou Shalt Not Judge Others: Just as this is your Camino, theirs is theirs. Big pack or no pack, 30 days or 1 day, 3000k or 10k. One man’s 40k day may be another’s 5k as there are many people on The Camino with health and other issues.

III. Thou Shalt Be Humble: Lose your ego. For many this is a life changing journey. For others a bucket list item or just a fun walk. The Camino has a Spirit and she loves humbleness and gratitude. Look for ways to be of service to other pilgrims and anyone else in need. For example; offer to carry the pack for a struggling fellow pilgrim, give a hug to someone who needs one, listen and be compassionate when a fellow pilgrim talks to you. Pick one day to give back to the Camino and carry a plastic garbage bag and pick up trash.

IV. Thou Shalt Not Overplan Your Camino: She will communicate with you via signs, people, animals, music, etc.. There are no coincidences on The Camino. Be alert. You may come across angels. Anything and everything is possible on The Camino. So be ready to veer from your plan because The Camino will provide what you need. Open your heart and she will show you your soul. The more you follow Commandment III the easier this will be.

V. Thou Shalt Open Up to Fellow Pilgrims: Of course if a Camino of solitude is your choice it is your Camino after all. However, the Camino is a special place and a key part of it’s magic are your fellow pilgrims. You will find that you keep seeing the same people and very likely The Camino wants you to connect. Get out of your comfort zone and just go introduce yourself to anyone who you have a feeling about or see more than once. By following this Commandment you will make lifelong friendships or more.

VI. Thou Shalt Start and End Wherever One Chooses: Many do The Camino in stages perhaps a week or two at a time and take years to complete it. Many start from St. Jean Pied de Port, others from Pamplona or Le Puy En Velay or Seville. Some Europeans start at their own homes. While many end at Santiago, some go on to Finisterre or Muxia at the edge of the world. Some believe if you are religious ending in Santiago is appropriate, but if you are spiritual walking on to the sea is special. A few do as the pilgrims did prior to the 1900’s and walk back home. Again there is no right or wrong.

VII. Thou Shalt Travel Light: While it is your choice the lighter your burden the easier it will be on you both physically and mentally. There are many writings on what to bring and not to bring.

VIII. Thou Shalt Stay Wherever Thy Chooses: From a tent, to a municipal auberge, to a 5 star Hotel. Remember it is your Camino. Though I agree with the purists that the auberge’s are special and put one in better position to connect with other pilgrims.

IX. Thou Shalt Not Obsess About Blisters: If you read any of the books various former Pilgrims have written, many mention suffering with blisters. Just as with traveling light there are many publications on how to deal with blisters. Focusing on prevention and applying some lubricant such as Vaseline is best but be prepared with compeed or your treatment of choice. Wear shoes or boots that YOU are comfortable with.

X. Thou Shalt Have Fun on The Camino: Perhaps for some the walk is long and arduous but for others including this peregrino it is pure joy. As you begin walking each day, concentrate on your breathing for ten to twenty minutes, in and out, to clear your mind of any worries and you will find yourself in a happy rhythm. After a long hard day, if a waiter places a whole bottle of vino tinto in front of you, drink and enjoy the company and conversation with fellow pilgrims. Don’t take yourself too seriously or these Ten Commandments. The Camino shows you how precious the gift of life is. Make the most of it.

Buen Camino! Ultreia!” From the blog of www.thesenioradventurer.com

I loved these 10 commandments and plan to keep them in mind when I’m walking.

Of course I’m definitely guilty of #4 – I’ve planned my trip almost down to the minute LOL but I’ve left some days where I’m just going to go with the wind. My biggest issue has been securing accommodation. I haven’t yet managed to just go and let the Camino provide, so to that end and keeping #8 in mind, I’ve booked all the nights of my first 6 days and the last night on the route before I get to Santiago. Mostly because I really don’t want to rush to get to an accommodation by a certain time and I found from my research that in order to get a bed at the cheapest alburgues you have to get there early and wait. I don’t to stand around waiting, I have places to explore and things to see enroute. So for me, on most days, I’ve booked ahead. I have conceded though to stay in hostels in many places, to get some of the sharing experience. Although of course I use the YHA a lot so I’m used to sharing….anyway it’s just a bed and a pillow for the night 🙂

The Camino Provides - 2017

The Camino Provides – 2017

#7 has been a challenge. When I first started researching what to pack, I read that it’s best to stick to 10% of your body weight. Okay so that gave me at that time 8 kgs to play with. So once I had decided what I ABSOLUTELY had to take with me, things I REALLY couldn’t live without, I weighed everything and packed my backpack. 7.5kgs brilliant I still have .5kg to play with. Then I did my pilgrimage from Southwark to Canterbury!!!By Day 2 I ditched 1.5 kgs of stuff, packed it in a box and sent it home LOL Jeez! How heavy can 7.5kgs get anyway? I never realised the impact that weight would have on my body. So lesson learned; pack light. However I suspect this is still going to be a challenge. I’ll do my final pack on Tuesday next week and then see how I get on.

packing for the camino de santiago

Packing for the Camino de Santiago

As for #9, ahhh yes. Blisters. The bane of any walkers life. I learned a very hard lesson during my pilgrimage to Canterbury in July – I walked with wet socks and the resulting blisters were horrendous and brought my journey to a screeching stop on my penultimate day. Walking with wet socks is NEVER a good idea. So in order to protect my feet I’ve bought an extra 4 pairs of the best out of all the socks I’ve tested so far and they will be my luxury item for the Camino 🙂

This experience is going to be very interesting for someone who has mild OCD and loves to plan things down to the last item. I suspect there will be a lot of challenges ahead, I have no doubt I am going to learn some interesting life lessons, once of which will definitely be about being with people. I’m very much a loner and love being on my own for hours and hours, so it’s going to be interesting to see how I communicate on this journey.

pilgrimage

finding your way to Santiago

Buen Camino

Previous blogs about my impending Camino 2017

Countdown to my Camino 2017

Walking with wet socks

Harassment on the Camino

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Whewww. 1 week till I arrive in Porto at the beginning of my Camino 2017 : 7 days : 168 hours : 10,080 minutes 😂😂😂 and just 10 days till I start walking the Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. In fact by this time next week I will have landed in Porto…all being well.

inspirational quotes

Sometimes we have to stop being scared and just go for it. either is will work or it won’t. that’s life!

I can’t express just how excited and trepidatious I am feeling. My mind is swirling with thoughts like; have I got this, do I have that, what if I lose my meds, should I carry this or that or the next thing, will I have enough money? Will my shoes be suitable? Have I enough clothes? Do I have the right clothes? Do I have enough time? Can I find my way?

Blah blah blah and horrors…. what if I find I can’t walk 25kms+ for 11 days in a row!!! With a 7.5kg backpack on my shoulders. 😦 😦 😦 I’m under no illusions as to how heavy it can get after walking for 6-8 hours per day….even though I only walked for 3 days each journey last month. Southwark to Canterbury ‘in the footsteps of Chaucer‘ and Ramsgate to Canterbury ‘The Way of St Augustine‘.

So yes, all the fears, all the uncertainties and all the excitement of the experiences I’ll have, the issues I’ll face, the challenges ahead, the places and wondrous things I’m going to see are whirling like dervishes about inside; my mind is in turmoil as the date for lift off approaches and all I want to do is go home right now and I bloody can’t because I’m working 😢😢😢 I’m not sure if I should cry, scream or laugh… I’m trying to focus on the latter.

So OMG 7 days. This all seemed like such a brilliant idea 18 months ago. 7 years ago it seemed like even a better idea!!!! LOL urgh. I love travelling. I love going to new places. I love exploring. So why am I so conflicted about this trip? I’ve trained and trained and trained some more. The #walk1000miles challenge has been brilliant for encouragement!

walk 500 miles

Becoming a Proclaimer 🙂 – heading now towards 1000 miles

I’ve done dozens of practice walks, climbed hills and down dales, through fields and along rivers. I’ve practised with the poles…still can’t quite love them, but they are useful. Got proper shoes and breaking them in. Tested 4 different types of socks (found the best ones) and learned that it’s never a good idea to walk in wet socks 😕😕

packing for the camino de santiago

By the time I get back from my Camino, I will have walked 1000 miles..however these are not the socks I’ll be wearing. But those are the poles I’ll be taking.

I’ve experimented with the backpack… Which I think is really the crux of the matter. It’s bloody murder carrying that thing. Sigh. Oh well.

nordic walking poles and osprey backpack

my nordic walking poles and osprey backpack looking fairly benign….

I’ve researched and read dozens of sites and packing lists…what should I take? What will I need? Is this useful? Do I have the right shoes? Will I need a rain-jacket? I have to keep reminding myself I’m going to Portugal and Spain, not outer Mongolia!! I’ve already ditched 1.5kgs of stuff…..I guess my intentions to minimalize my life before I buy my motorhome are being put to the test. This is a good start.4 camino packingBesides all that, after my phone crashed in July, I’m a little fearful for it happening again, so I bought a 2nd phone as back-up (like I need the extra expense) and for the last few days I’ve been transposing all the VIP information from the Camino spreadsheet to my phone calendars and into a small notebook that I’m carrying in case my phone gets lost or I can’t get wi-fi – I’m an old fashioned gal, I still like paper and pen 😉

I took this image in March while on holiday in Torquay with my beloved daughter and it seems perfectly apt right now; I’m a ‘wreck’ 😂😂😂

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7 days to the start of my Camino 2017 – Porto to Santiago

I read a lovely quote in the notebook “The beginning is always today!” Mary Shelley. I guess that yes, today is certainly that; the beginning; of my countdown to Porto…this shit is getting serious now. I can’t understand why I’m so conflicted though. I think the seeds of my fear were sown back in 2016 when I stumbled upon a blog written as a memorial to all the people who have died on the Camino routes in the last 10 years or so. Prior to that, it had never entered my head that people actually died!!! while on Camino. I was horrified. I think that knowledge may have played a part in my cancelling the trip I was going to make in September last year. Since then my daughter has become engaged and due to be married in May 2018. ❤

Although I try to not think of it, I am fearful that I too may die while on Camino. It’s not like I’m ill or anything, but some folks were healthy enough when they started and had a heart-attack enroute, some were knocked over by traffic and one lady Denise Theim was murdered. Now as I say, although I’m not focusing on death, the niggling is there in my mind. I would hate to let my daughter down…I’m meant to be walking her down the aisle when she gets married and it would be heart-breaking if I wasn’t there for her special special day. I’ve asked her to promise me that she’ll ask her father to walk her down the aisle in the event I’m not there…but meanwhile I’m visualising me escorting her….actually I can’t wait for the day, she looks absolutely gorgeous in her dress 🙂

So back to the Camino. One thing that has been really good is reading other people’s blogs and facebook updates on the various pages I’m following. It’s good to know I’m not alone in my fears. So many women and men have posted at how fearful they feel in the days preceding their start, how nervous…many with exactly the same fears I have.

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Inspirational quotes

A couple of days ago I got a sudden burst of excitement and wanted to just go already…now! I posted this on instagram: “14 days to go and I’ll be on my Camino. I had a few options for this number but I quite liked the story in this. The unicorn reflects my dream to walk the Camino, now just about to come true, and the words ‘seeds’ reflects that I’ll be sowing new seeds (experiences) in the garden of my life.

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sowing the seeds of my adventures

I wonder what will grow from this journey? New friends? New feelings? New emotions? New thoughts? New perceptions? I suspect it will be all the above. I do know for sure that new adventures await, new photos (of course), new places to be seen and new challenges await… My feet hurt just thinking about that! 😂😂😂 I hope you don’t mind that I’ll be posting my #countdown from now till I go. I’ve suddenly gone from trepidation to excitement and now I just want to GO ALREADY. In fact it brings tears to my eyes… OMG what an adventure. Although I’m sure that within 3 days I’ll be saying OMG I must be mad!!! What am I doing!!????”

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The Portuguese Coastal and Central routes

And yes, just 4 days later, that euphoric emotion has passed and I’m back to wavering between fear and excitement.

I love travelling. I’ve travelled all over the world entirely on my own. I have stumbled through the language barriers. I have enjoyed meeting people. I have loved being solo…..but for some reason, this trip feels different. I guess it’s probably because I’ll be moving constantly for 11 days; walking between 18.5 – 32 kms at different stages staying at a different hotel/hostel/alburgue each night bar 3. 184.2 kms is an awful lot more than 66.91 over 5 days and 109.01 split over 3 days – 2 weeks apart!!

I’ve planned and replanned my route, changed the distances between stages, reduced some days and increased others. Cut out two days of travelling and reduced the distance from 235kms to 184kms.

Somehow this looks awfully far…..

 

 

 

I’ve wanted to visit Portugal for ever such a long time and Porto has been my top destination. In Spain it’s Barcelona which I’ll be travelling to after my journey to Santiago. I’m so excited to be seeing those places….and yet the 11 days between Porto and Santiago are looming large in my head. I’ll also be adding to Project 101; 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Porto Historic Centre, Coimbra and Santiago. I’ll be visiting a number of cathedrals….I’ll count them once I’ve been, a few walled cities, and crossing a few rivers, and ancient bridges. And besides that…..I’ve no doubt that I’ll be visiting a LOT of churches 🙂

All that remains now are for the days to march on by and soon I shall be on ‘my way’. Porto to Santiago de Compostela along the Portuguese Coastal Route….

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Camino de Santiago

Buen Camino….

Porto to Santiago de Compostela - my pilgrim's passport and the scallop shells

Porto to Santiago de Compostela – my pilgrim’s passport and the scallop shells

Other blogs I’ve written about the impending Camino

Camino 2016, my way

My Camino the journey so far

My Camino 2017

On the road and what to pack #Camino2017

Pilgrimage – the road to Santiago

The Spirit of the Camino

Walking the Camino and lessons learned

Harrassment on the Camino

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Day 2 of my Way of St Augustine walk dawned bright and cheerful; blue skies and fluffy white clouds 🙂 Yayyy. I had been so blessed with the weather on both my walks. Most of the days were lovely blue skies and fluffy white clouds and not too hot. Perfect for walking. I guess one can excuse the heat and rain if one had good weather otherwise 😉

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You are here….yayyy 🙂 Bright sunny day and I’m off for a walk

I slept so well that night at The Rising Sun Inn… the bed was so comfy I could quite easily just have stayed in bed the whole day. LOL But adventures awaited and breakfast would soon be on the table. I dressed, tidied the room, packed Pepe and set off. First stop: dining room. Nary a soul joined me…apparently I was the only guest that night. Besides the ghosts that is.

Breakfast was a splendid affair….’Full English’ please preceded by cereal, tons of fruit and a cup of tea. I had to eat well since it wasn’t likely I would eat again that day till Canterbury. Anyway I needed the energy.

And then it was time to go. Bill settled I got some last minute instructions from the landlady and at 08:35 I was on my way…first a bit of an explore of the hamlet then onto School lane and across the fields…..it’s along this lane, through the gate and directly across the fields, just head towards the church spire! Hmmmm. Nope.

After much backwards and forwards and walking through a farmers farm 😉 which was actually a bonus since they were picking raspberries and I got to taste some (delicious), I finally decided to ignore the direction to walk through the gate, checked map my walk and set off…once again creating my own ‘way’ and St Augustine will just have to deal with that! So there!!

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lovely open fields but nary a church spire in sight

I did finally spy the church spire and although it definitely wasn’t direct, I eventually found my way. The houses were so quaint and quintessentially English it was hard to bear it! As I passed close to the church I saw one house that I just loved. I remember thinking that it looked a bit sad and that if I lived there I’d be out in the garden enjoying the flowers and the roses. When I read the visitor’s book I noticed a heart-felt request to pray for the health of a lady, someone’s Mother….turns out she lived in that house, but a little notation above the original request mentioned that she had sadly died just the week before. It was so heartbreaking, and then I understood why the house looked sad.

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a beautiful house with an air of sadness. I love the roses and the red phone box. quintessential English houses

All Saint’s Church, West Stourmouth was just wonderful to visit. An absolute gem of a church, so much history within those walls. The first incumbent 1281!!! Just wow. Reading the memorials is truly eye-watering…some of the dates are just incredible. I spent some time there just absorbing the serenity and peace and then set off once again….I could not find the route. After walking back and forth I finally spotted two gentlemen chatting nearby and asked them…they showed me where to turn and I wasn’t mistaken, it really just wasn’t clear and there were no markers. Perhaps because I had come a different route straight from the inn instead of from Plucks Gutter, I probably came in at a different angle and therefore the map didn’t make sense.

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these little churches are absolute gems. a real treasure house of history

Walking through the Kent countryside was such a treat. I crossed channels of water and walked through fields of ‘something or other’…sorry no idea…I’m not an expert, but it was lovely anyway 😉

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channels of water and fields of crops

My next destination was Grove Ferry and the marina. A gentleman suggested I head towards the house with the boat on the roof? Okayyyy. It took me just over an hour of walking and I was there….blissful green grass and lots of lovely water. Pity I couldn’t have a swim!! I spotted a pub, The Grove Ferry Riverside Pub, and stopped off for tea and a piece of cake and the all important rest. Chatted to a family who were driving through. Nice.

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house with a boat on the roof! paths of green. Grove Ferry Marina and the pub. another gate

And then it was the long stretch through Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve in the Wickhambreaux Valley. I loved the many gates I passed through.

What a treat it was walking through the nature reserve. Over an hour of peace and quiet, just me and nature; miles of grasses, channels of water, birds, butterflies, bees, dragon flies and blue skies with fluffy white clouds; blissful.

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Stodmarsh Nature Reserve

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As I neared the exit I noticed a wooden bench with the word DAD sculpted on the back. I rested there for about 10 minutes and thought about my Dad who has also done a number of ‘Caminos’.

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DAD – nice

Shortly afterwards I found St Mary’s Church in the village of Stodmarsh. Another wonderful little church. To my surprise there was a story board featuring the Way of St Augustine 🙂 Magic. I’m on the right road! This hamlet too was just gorgeous; ancient buildings and so much history it’s hard to take it all in.

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a dainty little hamlet – Stodmarsh

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St Mary’s Church Stodmarsh

As I left the village I passed some amazing farms; wide open spaces with the river in the background. Such a beautiful day I could barely believe it. And so goodbye to Stodmarsh. This country is beautiful.

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Goodbye Stodmarsh

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I love a good tree

From here I set off through some pretty remote countryside, through forests of trees, some old, some newish, along lonely pathways, past lakes and occasionally I spied other walkers through the trees…usually disappearing before I reached them. It was weird, but interesting.

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The Way of St Augustine – I’m pretty sure these trees are not the same he saw!

My next destination was the Domesday Book village of Fordwich that I reached just before 3pm. Stunning place. As I entered the village I passed a house named ‘Monks rest’ – too divine!!!

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Fordwich; a Domesday Book Village on the Way of St Augustine

The church again was just amazing!!! I love these churches, they are so extraordinary. This church like the others, an absolute gem of a stop on my route, was open but again sadly, no pilgrims stamp. You can feel the aeons of history thick in the air; as early as 620AD with remnants of the Saxon building. And I just loved the donation box!! Stunning. I had never seen one like it before. I spent ages here and got to speak to quite a few people as they came in to visit. I signed the visitors book and was delighted to see that a couple from Shawnigan Lake, Canada were waking the Way of St Augustine on the same day as me 🙂

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Church of St Mary the Virgin Fordwich

16 fordwich church

Before I left Fordwich I crossed the river over the bridge and took some photos. Definitely going to have to visit here again..so much to see and so little time.

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Fordwich; a Domesday Book village on the Way of St Augustine. The Town Hall is awesome! loved the houses

It was by then already 15:30 and if I still wanted to visit St Augustine’s Abbey and Conduit House, I had to get moving.

Things get a bit hazy from here onwards. I was already very tired. The previous two days of walking had worn me out. Thank goodness I had decided to do these 2 walks prior to my Camino in Europe. I have learned so much about distances, timing, and carrying the backpack. Invaluable lessons that allowed me to adjust my Porto to Santiago route considerably.

As a result of my tiredness and the map not matching what I was seeing, I very definitely went off-route!! I asked for directions but the people I spoke to hadn’t heard of St Augustine’s Way so I simply asked for directions to Canterbury…and ended up having to navigate a golf-course and finally ended up on the Roman Road into Canterbury rather than following the final stages of Augustine’s route. 😦 But on the plus side, I found a cafe for some much needed chocolate and a sugar-rush…a can of Coke. I seldom drink the stuff but these were desperate times and I really needed the energy.

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countryside and reading maps….LOL

And as a major bonus I managed to visit St Martin’s Church…even though it was closed by the time I eventually got there. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that I managed somehow to end up visiting this church. Although it was securely locked, I did get to walk around the grounds for a few minutes and rested there before my final push into Canterbury.

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St Martin’s Church Canterbury – oldest church in continuous use in the country

St Martin’s Church was the private chapel of Queen Bertha of Kent in the 6th century before Augustine arrived from Rome. Considered to be the oldest Church in the English speaking world still used for worship, and has been for over 1,400 years. It was here that Queen Bertha welcomed Augustine, who with his 40 companions, set up his mission when he arrived from Rome in 597 AD to convert the Saxons. Here they remained until King Ethelbert granted him the land for the abbey and the cathedral which, with St Martin’s, now form the Canterbury World Heritage Site.

And so to Canterbury Cathedral. Footsore and weary beyond belief I passed through the city walls at just on 17:00! Hoorah. I would be in time, only just, to get my Pilgrim’s Passport stamped at the Visitor’s Centre. Once again it was supremely fun at arrive at the gate to the cathedral as a Pilgrim; the folks on duty at the gate are marvellous and made a great fan-fare of my arrival 🙂 – Make way – we have a Pilgrim coming through. Hoorah!! By 17:15 my passport was stamped and I was having my photo taken in front of the cathedral. What a blessing. What a journey. I still can’t quite believe that I actually walked for 3 solid days. Wheww.

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Finally through the city walls and so to Canterbury Cathedral

The staff invited me to stay for the Choral Mass which I did. But first a bit of an explore. I visited the cloisters and the Chapter House where I photographed the stained glass window featuring Archbishop Chichele for my client. They had a fantastic exhibition about pilgrimage to Canterbury featuring the route from Winchester…next on my list me thinks 😉

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Canterbury Cathedral – journey’s end The Way of St Augustine

As I left a verger came along to lock up and I asked her to direct me to the tomb of St Augustine. She went one better and unlocked the area for me; usually closed to visitors so that I could take some photos and pay homage. I can’t describe how fantastic that was.

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The shrine of St Augustine at Canterbury Cathedral

After the choral service I went walkabout through the gardens and almost got myself locked into the grounds for the night LOL But fortunately I discovered to my relief that the entrance to the cloisters was still open. Not that I would have minded staying there overnight, but I had places to go and people to see….and work the next day!!! blergh.

It seemed such a let down to be heading back to work after such an amazing 3 days. But needs must; I have a Camino to save up for!

I did a quick tour of Canterbury to take some photos and then I was off to the station;

The River Stour in Canterbury - looking towards the East Bridge

The River Stour in Canterbury – looking towards the East Bridge

no time for a pancake treat this trip but I shall make up for it next visit! I reached Tonbridge (my accommodation for the night) at just after 9pm. Seriously ready for a shower and bed.

And so endeth my pilgrimages to Canterbury; the Roman town of Dvrovernvm.

In case you missed it: Day 1 The Way of St Augustine

Medieval pilgrimage: a pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place connected with the stories of the bible. People have made pilgrimages for centuries and thousands still do so today, but it was especially popular in the medieval period. Early churches were built over the tombs of saints. The bodies and relics of saints, famous miracle-working images and statues , and holy wells, all attracted pilgrims. Apart from major holy cities such as Rome and Jerusalem, there were many thousands of major and minor pilgrimages sites across Europe and hundreds in England.

Why is Canterbury so important?Canterbury is where St Augustine, who reconverted parts of southern England to Christianity founded his cathedral in 597 AD. The cathedral always attracted pilgrims as a special holy place, but it was only after the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170 that large numbers of pilgrims began to come to Canterbury. Canterbury has one of the largest collections of holy relics; bones, clothes and other items associated with saints in England. Most pilgrims only visited Canterbury once in their lives, so it was important to make it as memorable an experience as possible. Pilgrims, then as now, liked to take a souvenir of their journey, and Canterbury had many different badges that could be bought in the town, and which would identify the wearer as a pilgrim to Thomas Becket’s shrine. 

 

 

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St Augustine’s Way from Ramsgate to Canterbury.

The Way of St Augustine aka St Augustine’s Way – I first learned about this particular walk on one of my many Camino 2017 practice walks between Broadstairs and Cliffsend last year. Frankly I’d never heard of St Augustine before then but by all accounts he was quite an adventurous fella. I did some research and decided to do the walk.

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St Augustine

I’d made a list of walks I wanted to do in the UK so added this as it was quite short at 19 miles from Ramsgate to Canterbury and seemed eminently achievable.

As it turned out I actually walked 28 miles (?) and the hours are only my walking hours, not rest periods during the day. I was able to tag the walk on after my Southwark to Canterbury finale that ended on 29th July.

Day 1 : Walked 24.03 kms (15.02 miles) – 8 hours and 24 minutes
Day 2 : Walked 20.93 kms (13.08 miles) – 8 hours and 04 minutes

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Broadstairs to Ramsgate

 

The Way of St Augustine; my journey from Ramsgate to Canterbury started really from Broadstairs, at which time I walked from Viking Bay to St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate.  I’d had some really amazing help from Hunter and John of Friends of St Augustine, who prepared maps for me and answered my questions about the route and where to stay etc.

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The St Augustine Trail

I’d decided to attend the Sunday morning service at the shrine and so at 07:11 on July 30th I set off with Pepe; my fully loaded backpack, heading for Ramsgate. The service started at 08:30 and I figured I had loads of time since it usually took me just on 45 minutes to walk the distance…Hah!! I hadn’t factored in the weight of the backpack slowing me down and forgot that I still had to climb the hill on the opposite side of Ramsgate Harbour and walk to the shrine…as a result I slipped into the church with 2 minutes to spare and sweating profusely from rushing to get there on time.

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St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate

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Shrine of St Augustine

After the service I took some photos (of course) and then joined the parishioners for tea and biscuits and a wee chat, and at 09:44, following the map that John had kindly printed for me I set off from The Shrine heading for the 2nd of what was to be many stops; St Augustine’s Cross.

I passed through familiar territory walking along the clifftops at Ramsgate and stopped for a swing in the park…how can I not? It’s my favourite 😉

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stopping for a swing 🙂

From there it’s a short walk to Pegwell Bay

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Pegwell Bay – I wonder how it looked in AD 597

and taking the clifftop walk I soon passed the Viking Ship and Cliffs End village signboard,

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Viking Ship at Cliffsend

then a right turn and within no time at all I found the cross….I can’t believe I didn’t know it was there!! Managed by English Heritage, it’s free to visit.

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St Augustine’s Cross

After taking some photos and getting my bearings on the map, I found myself walking along secluded lanes and farmlands. One field in particular was really amazing…sunflowers as far as the eye could see.

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sunflowers; a touch of sunshine on a cloudy day

I had got a wee bit lost just before this as the map didn’t show the massive arterial roadway that crossed over the railway and so I missed the turn under the bridge…but thankfully some fella was walking towards me so I didn’t go too far off course. He directed me back to the bridge and mentioned that he had done this many times before!! hmmm. I also missed the crossing of the railway line, but after finding myself in a cul-de-sac of trees, I again retraced my steps and hopped across quick as a flash…I loathe railway crossings.

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the railway crossing I missed…

I got to chat to a lovely elderly gentleman at this point and he was quite impressed at my endeavour. Actually most people looked at me like I was quite insane when I told them what I was doing. LOL Nonetheless I was on the right track and soon I could see the spire of St Mary’s in Minster. I found the abbey quite easily. Oh my word. What a delightful surprise.

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Minster Abbey

Quite different to what I was expecting, but just amazing. I summonsed one of the Nuns who live and work there, and she kindly stamped my Pilgrim’s Passport for me 🙂 Of course I took loads of photos and then visited St. Mary The Virgin Church.

St. Mary’s Church, founded in 670AD is known as the ‘Cathedral on the marshes’ and is the mother-church of western Thanet. Fantastic place with oodles of history. Sadly there was no stamp for my passport.

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St Mary’s – cathedral on the marshes

Quite hungry by then I stopped off at The Bell Inn for Sunday Roast 🙂 A hearty meal very much appreciated.

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The Bell Inn, Minster

The Bell Inn was built during the reign of Elizabeth I in the year 1576 and is apparently a pub with ghosts……The earliest recorded occupant of the property is one Thomas Calfe who is mentioned in a sale document of 1611. In 1715 the rector of the parish held the first tithe supper at The Bell and in 1718 with his help and persuasion a 7 day licence was granted on condition that no liquor be administered between the hours of divine service. The penalty for doing so was a day in the stocks, a heavy fine or in some cases a flogging. In 1864, The Bell was lit by gaslight for the first time.

After a rest (I took my shoes and socks off and revelled in the cool wet grass) and the delicious meal, I hoiked Pepe onto my back and made my way back to the abbey. While at the shrine in Ramsgate earlier I had noticed that there was a Gregorian chant event at the abbey in the afternoon, so I decided to pop in. Getting there a tad late (45 minutes) I slipped quietly through the door…LOL – I only entered right next to the speaker and with a huge backpack…quietly I was not!! However, it seems I had stumbled into what was a semi-private event and there was a fee to be paid?? eeee. Oh well… But the organiser chap kindly let me off since I had got there very late and wasn’t staying for the 6:30 event at the church…which was the chanting part of the event. Duhhhh. So I just stayed as long as it was polite to do so, had a cup of tea and a delicious slice of chocolate cake baked by the nuns, left a hefty donation in lieu of my entrance fee and at 5:30 I set off once again. Destination Plucks Gutter. Seriously? Plucks Gutter??  I thought I’d have a quick squizz at wikipedia and here is their description: “The hamlet is named after a Dutch Drainage Engineer called Ploeg, whose grave is in All Saints Church, West Stourmouth. Ploeg, being the Dutch for a plough, the hamlet takes its origins from the Dutch Protestant tradition of draining marshland by creating a ploughed ditch”. I’m really not sure how that converts to Plucks Gutter…but there it is!! Although just a hamlet it has an interesting history with links to King Alfred and the Vikings, smugglers and of course was part of what was then the Isle of Thanet on the Wantsum Channel (now built over).

Most of the Way of St Augustine walk was through farmland and along streams and what was once Saxon Shore, although I warrant that Augustine would find things very different to his time!

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channels of water and fields of crops

Whenever the going got tough, I reminded myself that they didn’t have it any easier…I think! The land has been pushed back so far since then that you can’t even see the shoreline from that point, so maybe they walked along the beach whilst I was dragging myself through a jungle LOL

Traipsing across farmlands and recently cut fields that left horrible spiky stalks that crunched underfoot I was in danger of being pierced at the ankles!!

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spiky stalks…horrible to walk in this

Barring my first misdirection, I had so far managed to follow the map quite easily with the help of some signs attached to either gate posts or barriers etc…but somewhere, in the middle of nowhere I lost the trail.

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signs…..here there and everywhere…and anywhere

The map indicated to head inland at one point which I did and followed a narrow channel (there were a LOT of channels and streams in this area; salt-marsh works and farmland as far as the eye could see) but the crops were so high and so thick that I simply could not find ‘The Way’. I tried walking along a particular pathway, but that was making me double back and there was no way to cross the channel which appeared to go on for miles…that I could see anyway. Eventually after walking back and forth a few times and carefully looking for the pathway, I gave up and walked back to the river. I could see from the map that it lead towards Plucks Gutter so figured I would walk along the riverbank till I reached the bridge. Hah!!Great plan….or so it seemed.

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sigh

Firstly the riverbank was exceptionally narrow and I walked (dragged myself) along long grass with just a few inches between me and the river. Mindful of the weight of the backpack, I was having nightmare visions of falling in and not being able to surface due to the weight of the pack…but thankfully I had my walking poles. They really came into their own at this point and saved me from many a stumble on uneven ground and a possible tumble into the river. Eventually my luck ran out and the grassy riverbank ran into thickets of weeds and nettles as tall as me!! I was confounded as to what I should do. It was getting later and the sun was setting. Fortunately said sun was ahead of me so pulling on my ‘big girl panties’ I plunged into the fields of corn! Never mind ‘Children of the Corn’ – I am ‘Woman of the Corn’ hahahaha

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Woman of the Corn…no snakes!!

The stalks were taller than me and for at least 30 minutes of plunging and shoving my way through, I could not see anything other than green corn stalks and a faint glimmer of the sun. Walking through these stalks was eerie and a tad unnerving. I was reminded of when I was about 7 or 8 following my grandfather through a small field of corn that he had grown on their property in South Africa. I was casually strolling along behind him when I looked up and right there before me, with head poised to strike was a thin green snake! Fuck! I can tell you that never have I been so terrified. I screamed, the snake snaked and my grandfather came up with a stick and whacked it into kingdom come…or gone! As the case may be. So yeah, walking through this particular field was rather unpleasant. Fortunately I didn’t see any snakes…but perhaps they saw me and scarpered. I was kinda hoping that like Ireland, this particular field didn’t have snakes!

After what seemed like forever, with all sorts of greenery tangled in my hair and poking through my clothes, I stumbled out of the field and voila the bridge was ahead of me 🙂 Hurrah!! Only problem was that I ended up in a boatyard of some sort so had to find my way through a maze and then do some serious climbing of fences and gates. Forget the signs that say ‘Keep Out’ …mate, I’m leaving, no worries.

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Plucks Gutter and the River Stour

I have also learned that I can climb a gate with a fully loaded backpack in situ!! Something I had to do quite frequently on this walk. LOL

Once I reached the bridge over the River Stour it was so much easier; tarmac! Yayyy. I was in Plucks Gutter…but thankfully not in a gutter. I stopped to read the history board outside the Dog and Duck Inn; fascinating stuff!! Then my feet hit the mac and I was off…only a few more minutes of walking to be done and I would be able to have a cuppa and put my feet up, but first I had to navigate this road. It was however quite scary since the road, if you can call it that, was narrow and had no sidewalk or place for pedestrians. Once again I sucked in my breath and set off….The Sun Inn according to the map at the pub was within a 25 minute walk.

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You are here….Plucks Gutter and Stourmouth

And what a treat Stourmouth proved to be, lots of lovely quaint houses greeted me…although frankly I was too tired right then to be more than a little impressed. Suddenly as I rounded a corner there it was….. The Rising Sun Inn – my accommodation for the night. And once again, exhausted and dusty, but not wet (thankfully), I stumbled across the portal and traipsed across the reception area. A lovely young lass showed me to my room, and brought me a much needed cup of tea. The landlady soon came by to say hello whereupon I ordered a platter of sandwiches and crisps – delicious. The room at the Inn was absolutely fantastic. A gorgeous big bed and an ensuite shower.

way of st augustine

The Rising Sun, Stourmouth

Within no time at all I had my shoes off, my very dirty hiking pants hanging up to air, and with my feet up on the comfy couch I settled in for a bit of telly. 🙂 Exploring would have to wait for the morrow…for now, I wasn’t going anywhere except into the shower and then bed!! It seemed perfectly apt for me to be staying at The Rising Sun since one of my ultimate favourite songs is ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (The Animals). I still have the 7-single 😉

A spot of history: “Originally a bakery owned and worked by the Monks of the Diocese of Canterbury, the first part of the building was erected in 1372 during the reign of Edward III. Continuing as a bakery and passing through a number of different owners, the building eventually came into the hands of Edgar Rake; baker and brewer in 1682!! Said gentleman applied for an ale and cider licence that was granted on April 4th, 1695. He carried out some building work in 1708 & 1709 but died before this more modern structure was completed. One Jeremiah Bedley; baker and beer seller took over the premises in 1709 and granted a licence to sell liquor and named the premises “The Rising Sun”….probably coz his patrons saw the sun rising after a heavy night!! LOL From 1709 onwards till 1865 all the Inn Keepers of The Rising Sun were bakers, working the old bakery and running the Inn, except for Thomas Lucke who in 1776 was described as a ‘beer seller, baker and ferryman’. The inn was for many years also known as the Ferryman’s Inn as the men who worked the ferries across the mile-wide estuary to the “Crown” (Cherry Brandy House) at Sarre, met here.”

I was hoping to see the rising of the sun on the Way of St Augustine walk and so to spend the night at a 14th century inn called The Rising Sun is superbly brilliant.

And so to bed…perchance to dream. I slept really well that night….the bed was amazing.

Day 2 The Way of St Augustine

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