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Posts Tagged ‘pilgrims route from london to canterbury’

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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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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