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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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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.

way of st augustine

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

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate

way of st augustine

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 😉

way of st augustine

stopping for a swing 🙂

From there it’s a short walk to Pegwell Bay

way of st augustine

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,

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

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!

way of st augustine

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!!

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

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

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

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.

way of st augustine

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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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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So today my OCD kicked in!! I ended up unpacking, weighing and repacking my backpack 🙂

Bearing in mind that I’ve done this 3 times already, I felt that prior to my walk on Sunday I simply had to make sure of what I had and what it all weighed. I also reminded myself that I’m actually walking in the UK for this particular journey and not in a foreign country!!! ergo I did not need many of the bits & bobs I had packed for the Camino….so, to that end

My Packing List – total weight 7.235 kgs (4.22 lbs)

Osprey Mystic Magenta Tempest Talon 40 – my erstwhile backpack 1.08 kgs

Osprey Water Bladder 1.5 liter – filled                                                      1.600 kgs

Sandals                                                                                                            0.580 grams

Fleece – lilac                                                                                                   0.500 grams

Jumper – lilac                                                                                                 0.220 grams

Hiking pants x 2 pairs – black (packed)                                                    0.620 grams

T-shirts x 3 – magenta (packed)                                                                 0.360 grams

Panties x 4 (black)                                                                                        0.040 grams

Hiking socks x 3 (black)                                                                              0.150 grams

Night t-shirt (everything hurts – gift from my daughter)                    0.210 grams

Rain poncho – purple                                                                                  0.395 grams

Extras:

LED Light (glowstick)                                                                                  0.020 grams

Blue scarf with silver scallop shell pattern (gift from daughter)       0.040 grams

Pilgrim’s Scallop Shell                                                                                 0.020 grams

Pilgrim’s Passports                                                                                       0.030 grams

Orange Emergency Sheet                                                                           0.230 grams

Silver Emergency Foil Blanket                                                                  0.010 grams

 

Phone charger and cord                                                                            0.080 grams

Emergency travel charger for my phone                                              0.220 grams

Teabags (vital and essential for my morning cuppa)                         0.030 grams

Toiletries                                                                                                      0.800 grams

camino packing list

Camino packing list – some items stayed; some didn’t

I may well end up reducing this lot after my Southwark to Canterbury walk LOL. The heaviest item is the water bladder and that’s vital so I’ll just have to suck it up (literally hahahaha) and crack on with the weight. I’ll be wearing my trainers and either using my walk poles or carrying them on the backpack, in which case add an extra 0.480 grams!! The black t-shirt with the ‘everything hurts’ writing was a gift from my daughter LOL – she sure figured it out already. I’m planning on wearing it at night instead of pyjamas.

camino packing list

most of this stuff was discarded

 

What went out!!! 1.04 kgs (0.65 lbs)

Towel – magenta (quick drying)                                                         0.230 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 1)                                                         0.180 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 2)                                                         0.310 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 3)                                                         0.110 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 4)                                                         0.210 grams

 

 

Although I have discarded most of the items above, they will most likely be going with me on the Camino de Santiago…..simply because they may well not be available….I will decide closer to the time. I keep having to remind myself that I’m going to a European country where they have shops and things LOL. The towel of course will go with me to Portugal but I won’t need it in the UK.

So there it is, finally I am packed and ready to go. Now I’m just counting the hours 😉

I leave my current assignment at about 2pm tomorrow and head up to London. I’ll be staying at a hostel on Thameside and visiting Southwark Cathedral tomorrow afternoon to buy my Pilgrim’s Passport (then I’ll have 3 LOL). I’m also planning on visiting the many places that were around in Chaucer’s day….did you know that Chaucer was appointed Clerk of the King’s Works in 1389. One of his responsibilities in this position was management of the Tower of London. Love that!!

Saturday I’m travelling to Headcorn for the Battle of Britain Airshow and then back to London for overnight. I’ll have supper at the George Inn as mentioned in my previous blog and then hopefully I’ll leave at about 6am on Sunday to start my walk. Sincde the weather is still so hot and looking likely to stay that way….I want to walk early in the morning and try reach my lodgings by lunch time and sleep; a lot!!

 

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