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….and other stuff I learned before I had to…….Press Pause 《 #SouthwarktoCanterbury –
a horse, a horse…..my kingdom for a horse!! I could surely have done with a horse on Tuesday last week!!!

horses southwark to canterbury

with my patron Saint; George to guide me, I set off from The George Inn, Southwark to Canterbury and met some other horses along the way…

And there it is; after 3 days of walking, eating, enjoying, seeing and experiencing – heat, exhaustion, love, joy, excitement, support, exploration and pain, my sojourn came to an abrupt end in Faversham 😔😔😔

town of faversham

My relief at seeing this sign was enormous….I thought I was close to my destination! I wasn’t, and had yet another 45 minutes to go; 3 hills and 6 kms in the rain later…..

A hard lesson to learn, but one I’ll never forget…..= DON’T WALK IN WET SOCKS!!!
Fundamentally I knew not to walk in wet socks, one part of my brain was saying “it’s not a good idea to walk in wet socks” while the other part of my brain was arguing “oh nonsense, it’s fine, they’ll dry out while you’re walking” – well it wasn’t and they didn’t.

That time in Newington when I’d stopped at the church to rest and then shelter from the rain…well I walked across the grass in my socks and got them wet. Why?? Who knows?? But, I’ll spare you the minutiae, suffice to say that by the time I got to Faversham my feet were in a sorry state. Although the blisters only pained for 3 days and have lasted till now, they pretty much spelt disaster for the walk. On the plus side I discovered that Newington was not only a Domesday Book village, but the church contained the tomb of a Saint; Robert, a pilgrim murdered on his way to Canterbury in 1150.

St Mary's Church, Newington and the tomb of St Robert.

St Mary’s Church, Newington and the tomb of St Robert. My view from under the tree where I sat to shelter from the rain

After setting off from Rochester at 05:19, 36.67 kms later at 18:56 I quite literally staggered into the Sun Inn at Faversham; feet in agony, exhausted and drenched to the core!!! Oh did I mention that it rained the last 6 kms of my walk that day? LOL…..well yes. It did. A lot!!!  The look on people’s faces in the bar when I fell over the portal absolutely dripping water everywhere was entertaining. The lass behind the bar counter rolled up a huge wad of paper and gave it to me to dry myself off with. I was so wet that I had to unpack Pepe and toss all my clothes into the tumble dryer…thankfully the proprietor was amenable to my doing that!!

Besides the blisters, my phone crashed in Sittingbourne and just didn’t want to charge up, ergo I ended my photo journey too…..at the Sun Inn at Faversham…with no battery power I didn’t want to continue; it was most important to me to have a photo-journal of my journey. Besides that, I wanted to map my walk all the way, for the record. I tried everything – connected it to my emergency charger, to the plug in the wall….no matter what, it just did not want to charge.

Pilgrimage; Southwark to Canterbury

Pilgrimage; Southwark to Canterbury

I had booked to spend the night at The Sun Inn anyway, the fabulous 17th century inn I’d found in Faversham, which was just as well since I could hobble no further (more on that in Day 2’s episode to follow). The next morning, to spare my feet and the nasty blisters, instead of resuming my walk, I hobbled to the train station and took the train to Canterbury. I had to be back at work within a few days and could not afford to be incapacitated by blisters.

My daughter and I met up as we had arranged at The Falstaff, where we enjoyed our cream/champagne tea. Although to be fair, I don’t think either of us were up to celebrating right then…I was too exhausted and she was too ill. I had planned to stay overnight at The Falstaff Inn, a fantastic 14th century inn just outside the West Gate at Canterbury, which was just as well since I could walk no further. There too the staff were amazing. More about that later. 😉

My daughter and I celebrating my journey at The Falstaff with a Champagne Afternoon Tea in Canterbury

My daughter and I celebrating my journey at The Falstaff with a Champagne Afternoon Tea in Canterbury

The long and short of it is that I will walk the last 8.1 miles from Faversham to Canterbury at the end of July after my current assignment.
The distance on Day 3 from Rochester to Faversham was just too great. Pretty much everyone who walks the Camino and the 1000 Mile Challenge agrees; 22.92 miles is pretty much two days of walking. Of course it can be done, but at what cost?

Some of the distance and direction signs I saw between London and Faversham...and onto Canterbury

Some of the distance and direction signs I saw between London and Faversham…and onto Canterbury

So a few lessons learned, experience gained and new knowledge stored for future reference 😉
Meanwhile I’m back at work. My phone is still not working properly and will have to go in for repair. 😡😡

What have I learned after 3 days of walking and 59 miles? One of the most important lessons I learned from my walk/pilgrimage/Camino has to be: never, ever, never contemplate WALKING WITH WET SOCKS!! Other than that:

  • Plan shorter distances. I didn’t have to walk those distances; just that when planning my route, Google maps said 6 hours and 18.1 miles…..at least this much I have gained for the Camino in September; plan shorter days.
  • Pack light!! Even though my backpack (Pepe) was not at full capacity, weighing in at just over 7.5 kgs at the start last Sunday, by Day 2 I was leaving it lying about and praying someone would pick it up and walk off with it….even with all my valuables in it. Hah!! I did in fact post some of the stuff home from Higham; 1.5 kgs lighter made all the difference to the comfort of carrying my backpack.
southwark to canterbury - backpack

My backpack; Pepe, weighed in at just on 7.5 kgs when I left and 6 kgs after posting home 1.5 kgs of stuff!!

  • Eat!! I love my food, but when I’m walking I tend to forget to eat. So I planned to eat plenty of food, frequently and yet even that wasn’t really enough. I can feel my body is still depleted. I’m bumping up the protein no end and yet I still get excruciating cramps in my legs. I’m guessing those dried black ants my daughter bought as a dare will have to be eaten soon!! hahaha.
  • Drink!! Lots of water. I consumed 6 liters of water on Day 1 between Southwark and Thamesmead. It was 28 degrees c with a humidity level of 44% and terribly terribly hot. The water bladder inserted on the backpack weighed in at 1.5 kgs when filled and added to the overall weight of my backpack, but that supply it was most welcome along the way.
  • Rest!! This is imperative, especially on a very hot day. I did in fact take a lot of rest breaks, but because I had a deadline to reach Gravesend by 8pm for a dinner reservation I had made, I really pushed myself to keep going. Although I did snooze on the grass at Woolwich…and woke myself up with the sounds of snoring LOL.
  • Pack a rain poncho!!! Yes, I had packed my rain poncho, but because the weight of the bag was killing me on Day 2 I posted the poncho (weight 385 grams), along with my sandals and a few other bits and bobs, back to my daughter. hmmm.

In all, I had a great time. I will write more about my Southwark to Canterbury walk that ended at Faversham in due course. I discovered some extraordinary places, explored magical churches (one of which was being built at the time Chaucer travelled to Canterbury – I mean seriously, how awesome is that!!!), met some wonderful people along the way and saw some incredible sights. I am planning on writing up a day to day travelogue, but in the meantime –

Here are the stats:

1 Pilgrim’s Passport – duly stamped 🙂

southwark to canterbury pilgrims passport

1 Castle – Rochestersouthwark to canterbury rochester castle

1 Horse – seen in a field near Bapschild – ate my tangerine!!southwark to canterbury rochester castle

2 Cathedrals –

Southwark Cathedralpilgrimage southwark to canterbury southwark cathedral

Rochester Cathedralpilgrimage southwark to canterbury rochester cathedral

3 blisters – one on my left heel and two under the ball of my right foot. I cannot tell you how painful those two blisters were by Day 4…..which as it turned out was entirely different to how I originally planned it!!! Duh

3 Inns –pilgrimage southwark to canterbury medieval inns

The George Inn (17th century galleried coaching inn), Southwark.

The Sun Inn (17th century), Faversham.

The Falstaff (14th century), Canterbury.

5 Beds –

YHA Thamesidepilgrimage southwark to canterbury

The Old Prince of Orange, Gravesendpilgrimage southwark to canterbury

Greystones B&B, Rochesterpilgrimage southwark to canterbury

The Sun Inn, Favershampilgrimage southwark to canterbury

The Falstaff, Rochesterpilgrimage southwark to canterbury

6 liters of water – drunk on the first day….between Southwark and Thamesmead

6 kms walked in pouring rain – sans rain poncho (uhmmm yes, well)

9 Churches –pilgrimage southwark to canterbury

The first 3 churches I visited in Gravesend, none of which had pilgrim stamps.

St Mary the Virgin, Chalk – closed

St John’s Church, Higham – open 🙂

St Mary the Virgin, Newington – open 🙂

St Margaret’s Church, Rainham – open 🙂

Holy Trinity, Sittingbourne – open 🙂

and the last one I forget…..both the name and whether it was open or closed LOL

9 meals – in no particular order……pilgrimage southwark to canterbury

YHA, Thameside London – breakfast. always a brilliant spread

The George Inn, Southwark (supper) – fantastic people; my favourite London pub

Costa Coffee, Greenwich (breakfast) – lovely young man; so interested in my journey

The Three Daws, Gravesend (supper) – Josie was amazing; made my night special

The Copperfield, Shorne (breakfast) – imminently forgettable….but nice staff

Crepe & Co, Rochester (supper) – delicious crepes…I had 2 🙂

Manor Farm Restaurant, Rainham (lunch) – Emma was a charming host

The Sun Inn, Faversham (breakfast & supper) – Leigh was very interested in my journey

The Falstaff, Canterbury (Afternoon Tea) – fantastic spread, thoroughly enjoyed

The Falstaff, Canterbury (breakfast) – good meal, lovely staff.

Lunches were mostly buy & go snacks and fruit, with cups of tea or coffee and cake along the way.

22 Places visited: Southwark, City of London, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Royal Greenwich, Royal Arsenal Woolwich, Thamesmead, Erith, Gravesend, Chalk Village, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Newington, Sittingbourne, Bapschild, Teynham, Ospringe, Faversham…and ultimately Canterbury.

94 kilometers / 59 miles – which brings my miles walked for 2017 to the grand total of 720 miles…..plus all the walking I did that I didn’t record.

160,000 steps plus!

One of the more amusing signs I saw came just as I was leaving Greenwich. I rounded a corner and there before my eyes……okayyyy, I got it!! Thank you!!southwark to canterbury

And that summarises my #SouthwarktoCanterbury pilgrimage that ended at Faversham! Fear not, for I shall complete the walk in just over a week’s time and in fact I’m planning on tagging on a 2nd walk next weekend too…why not? St Augustine’s pilgrimage from Ramsgate to Canterbury. And this time I’ll be sure to keep my socks dry. 😉

Now about that phone…..

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Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral in the footsteps of Geoffrey Chaucer.

6 years ago, after discovering the George Inn in Southwark and seeing the Chaucer window in Southwark Cathedral I was inspired by my love of London, the River Thames, my love of walking and my interest in Chaucer to follow in his footsteps to Canterbury.

Although I did indeed complete the walk from Southwark Cathedral to Greenwich, life got in the way and I never completed the rest of the journey.geoffrey-chaucers-probable-route-to-canterbury-pic-via-httpfaculty-arts-ubc-casechard346map-htm1

However, since I’ll be walking the Camino de Santiago this year in September, I decided that not having completed my journey to Canterbury is just not on! So as part of my Camino training and in order to complete one journey before the next, I resolved to walk from Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral in July of this year over a period of 4 days. This will not only complete my original journey, but will add 60+ miles to my walk 1000 miles challenge (#walk1000miles) and enroute I will visit a few cathedrals, a couple of UNESCO World Heritage sites and hopefully add one or two new places to Project 101.

To this end I have continued apace with my Camino practice walks (640 miles since January 1st 2017)….only now I am carrying my lovely new Osprey Mystic Magenta Tempest 40 litre backpack with me…75% loaded. I did try one day to carry it fully loaded (8.5 kgs) but I nearly put myself on the ground in agony! So I emptied the water bladder and removed my toiletries and for the month of June and part of this month till I leave for my walk I’ve been practising with 5kgs on my back and slowly built it up to 7kgs.

nordic walking poles and osprey backpack

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

It’s been heavy going and I can see the impact the weight has on my joints and my back, as well as which I am constantly tired. But persevere I must as time is fleeting and although its now July and not April, I can identify with Chaucer’s comment: On Wednesday 18 April, I stood in Talbot Yard off Borough High Street in London getting wet: an April shoure soote was piercing me to the roote. Some days walking with the Osprey has had me feeling like the backpack was ‘piercing me to the roote’. LOL

Chaucer and his merry band of pilgrims left from an inn called the Tabard Inn and although the Tabard Inn no longer exists, I shall repair to the George Inn, the last of the medieval London Coaching Inns, for a meal on the night before I begin my journey. I’m not sure what to eat; fish and chips with mushy peas or sausage and mash with onions…but one thing is for sure….I will be having a glass or two of a suitable brew!!

the george inn

pulling a pint at the George Inn in 2011

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of 24 stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer between 1387–1400 of a journey taken by himself and a number of pilgrims from Southwark to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Thomas á Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.

In the year 1387, Geoffrey Chaucer and his motely band of pilgrims gathered in the yard of The Tabard Inn before setting off on their pilgrimage to visit the shrine of Thomas á Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. They travelled mostly on foot but in one or two of the images I have seen of Chaucer on his pilgrimage he is usually seated on a four-legged animal…ergo a horse.

geoffrey chaucer canterbury tales pilgrims route to canterbury

a sketch of Geoffrey Chaucer as he may have looked on his route to Canterbury

Therefore I shall endeavour to travel by foot for as much of the way as I can and revert to horse-power if and when necessary.  I have carefully worked out my daily routes, taking distance into account, and will follow as closely as possible the same route that Chaucer followed….with 2 exceptions: from Southwark Cathedral in London – I will follow the banks of the Thames to Greenwich and from there to Erith

southwark cathedral and geoffrey chaucer

Southwark Cathedral – a place of worship since 606AD

….the road that Chaucer travelled along from Southwark towards Deptford; Tooley Street, is now a very busy, polluted highway with hundreds of cars, trucks and whatall travelling along and frankly; it’s unpleasant. The 2nd exception will be between Dartford and Rochester. Dartford is not a lovely place to spend the night (sorry folks 😉 ), so once I reach the town I’ll take a 7,000 horse-powered vehicle in the form of a train from there to Gravesend (which is not where Chaucer stopped), but since this is my journey…..

As a prelude to the journey I shall once again visit some of the places that were around in Chaucer’s day….albeit today they are somewhat altered and some even have different names.

London Bridge – in Chaucer’s day (14th C): Late Medieval: the Peter de Colechurch Bridge – There was a Stone Gate House on the bridge and on its roof stood poles where traitors’ heads were placed. This practice started in 1304 and continued until 1678.  In the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell’s head was placed on one of the poles.
Southwark Cathedral – a place of worship on this site since 606AD –  a medieval priory which today has become Southwark Cathedral.
Winchester Palace – the remains/ruins of a 12th century palace, London residence of the Bishops of Winchester.
The Clink Prison – 1144-1780 now a museum – The Clink Prison Museum is built upon the original site of the Clink Prison which dates back to 1144 making it one of England’s oldest, if not the oldest Prison.  Now a museum (great fun for a visit)

Saint George the Martyr Church on Borough High Street – a church that was in existence during the 14th Century and before. The earliest reference to this church is in the Annals of Bermondsey Abbey, which claims that the church was given by Thomas de Ardern and Thomas his son in 1122.

And of course The George Inn – in it’s present incarnation, having gone through a number of fires over the years, and rebuilt.  The George Inn was situated next door to the Tabard Inn from whence Chaucer commenced his journey to Canterbury.

On Sunday 9th July, I will stand opposite Talbot Yard off Borough High Street in London getting ………wet? Who knows….we often have rain in July…..but I have a poncho 😉

I’ll be posting photos on instagram as I go and updating my progress. If you’d like to follow along you can find me @notjustagranny and the hashtags I’ll be using are #SouthwarktoCanterbury and #inthefootstepsofChaucer amongst others.

Hope to see you there and if you happen to see me along the way….say hello 🙂

And so to Canterbury……..

southwark to canterbury in the footsteps of chaucer

This plaque on Titsey Hill on the North Downs shows various routes and distances to faraway places….one of which is Canterbury…53 miles from the Titsey Estate

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