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Posts Tagged ‘Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral in the footsteps of Geoffrey Chaucer’

You’ve got to know when to carry on
Know when to quit,
Know when to stop each day,
And know when to rest.
You never count your blisters
When you’re sitting at the table (ewww)
There’ll be time enough for walking
When the feet are healed…..

Okay, so I’ve used a bit of artistic licence with the lyrics of ‘The Gambler’ – one of my favourite Kenny Rogers songs, something my daughter and I often sing along to.

That song was running through my mind on Day 3 after I reached Faversham having hobbled the last 4 kilometres in driving rain, feet blistered and aching, soaked to the skin. LOL Alright, I admit it….it wasn’t THAT bad; it did rain but just short shower (albeit enough to soak me to the skin mind!), my feet were blistered and I did hobble….but I wasn’t actually dying!! hahaha. I did however make the sensible decision to quit while I could actually still walk and on the morning of Day 4 I took the train to Canterbury.

The blisters were by that stage seriously eina (painful) and I knew for sure that I wouldn’t be able to walk the final 9+ miles into Canterbury and live to tell the tale. I also had to get back to work within a couple of days, and that was more important than pushing myself beyond what was necessary.

As mentioned in Day 3’s blog post, my daughter joined me for a scrumptious Afternoon tea with champagne with scones and cream, and I spent the night at The Falstaff, the fabulous 14th century inn just outside the West Gate of Canterbury city.

I so enjoyed the feel of spending the night in a 14th century inn, it’s quite phenomenal. After checkout I popped in at the Hospital of St Thomas of Eastbridge to get a stamp in my passport…no date, just the stamp in case they were closed when I did my final day. Then I hopped on a train to home and spent the day with my daughter. Back to work and I took some time out, not making any lengthy walks anywhere…I really needed to rest my feet, allow the blisters to heal and the bones to recover their equilibrium.

The days whizzed by and finally I was ready to start; Faversham to Canterbury – the finale 🙂

faversham history

Faversham architectural history

Taking the train from Tonbridge at 06:15 I arrived in Faversham just after 8:30. The trains don’t run very early on Sundays so I had to just bite the bullet and start when I started. First I went back to The Sun Inn to say hello and thank you and take a few photos, and then explored the town centre.

the sun inn faversham

The Sun Inn Faversham. A most amazing place to stay

With oodles of history going back to the 1086 Domesday Book and earlier, Faversham definitely bears further investigation on another day.faversham

It was market day and the stall holders were busy setting up. I bought a sweet pastry to get me going and set off….Canterbury here I come.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

I’m on the right road

I was of course under no illusions now about how tiring and painful this could be, so I tried to set an easy gait and get my backpack settled. For some reason it just did not want to sit properly and I spent the whole day shifting it about. Weird since it was packed almost identically to the first 3 days I walked and was no heavier.

Again I was struck by how beautiful the English countryside can be. Kent is known as the food basket or garden of England and seeing the fields of crops and dozens of fruit trees, you can certainly believe the name fits.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

Kent countryside

The first village of note was Boughton Under Blean; a stunning village lined with the most marvellous array of medieval architecture you could wish for I was hoping to stop for coffee and something to eat and had bypassed the pub at the beginning of the village expecting to find another suitable place. Lesson learned: stop at the first place you find…there may not be another. I was still really early (10:04) and most places were still closed. Oh well. Onwards.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

Boughton Under Blean

I stopped to ask a lady if there was likely to be anything open, but being Sunday….however we had a wonderful conversation and she was quite intrigued by my journey. I think that is one of the aspects I really enjoyed chatting to various folk along the way. I spotted a history board as I left the village and note that there was a parish church…but again too far to walk to that day. A car would be good LOL. The history is amazing and the village has links going back to the 16th century and earlier, as well as the Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes.

Boughton; (originally ‘Bocton’) means ‘land held by book, or charter’ and lay on the main route between London and Canterbury and is mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, in ‘The Canon’s Yeoman’s Prologue’. The High Street forms part of the old Roman road (‘Watling Street’) from London to Canterbury and Dover and in days gone by would have hosted thousand of pilgrims on their way to the shrine of Thomas Becket.

faversham to canterbury finale

Chaucer’s pilgrims passing through Boughton Under Blean

Moving on from Boughton Under Blean I passed Christ Church Dunkirk ….Dunkirk??? Jeez did I teleport to France? LOL Bears further investigation. The church is now a private residence but the graveyard was still open to exploration.

parish church of dunkirk

Parish Church of Dunkirk

I passed another row of houses further on that turned out to be the village of Dunkirk. 🙂 How cool is that. Time now was 11:36. I was looking forward to reaching Canterbury LOL

I had been following the route on my app: map my walk and suddenly the roadway ran out…just after passing through Dunkirk I quite literally hit a dual carriageway with absolutely nowhere to walk. I had been walking on a narrow pavement up until then and the traffic whizzing past was nerve-wracking…again coming from behind and when a large truck roared past I could feel my body being pulled in the slip-stream. I retraced my steps and turned down a road that was a cul-de-sac. This took me into wild country and I passed a paint-balling group who said I should just carry on along this narrow road, that turned out to be the old Roman Road to Canterbury, and eventually I would reach a point where I would find a better road….which I eventually did.

Along the way I came across some wild blackberry bushes; fat juicy pollution ripened blackberries 😉 delicious nonetheless. I ate my fill and carried on. Really wanting a cup of tea.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

Blackberries enroute

I spotted a Holiday Inn sign in the distance and decided to stop for that tea and a snack to eat and charge up my tablet. Following the Roman Road I passed through Harbledowns and eventually reached the A2050 which lead me to Canterbury Christ Church University…and this is where the road seriously ran out for me. There was just no way around it and the verge, although wide was just grass and bushes lined with high walls…probably to reduce the traffic noise levels for the houses behind. If I was limber enough I would have climbed over the wall LOL. But I’m not and I didn’t.

The walls also meant that I couldn’t get to Westgate Court Avenue which is the road I had wanted to follow into the city. I walked along the grass verges which were quite wide and so I felt safe from the traffic but I’m pretty certain I wasn’t meant to be there. I finally spotted a roundabout that became Rheims Way and at the same time a sign-board that read CANTERBURY! Hoorah Time was now 14:19 and I had left Faversham 5 hours previously.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

Finally reaching Canterbury

From there I scooted across the road and picked up the London Road that took me to St Dunstans Street and a wonderful church. Stopping off to explore, no way could this marvellous place; The Parish Church of Saint Dunstan Without the West Gate be bypassed. Dunstan was Archbishop of Canterbury from 960 to 978 and canonised soon after his death, becoming the favourite saint of the English until 200 years later he was supplanted by Thomas Becket. Dunstan was buried in Canterbury Cathedral but his tomb was destroyed during the Reformation.

st dunstans without the west gate

St Dunstan’s Without the West Gate, Canterbury

Finally I was in Canterbury. I cannot tell you the sense of achievement and relief. It had rained, shined, pained and here I was….almost at the end of my journey.

After exploring St Dunstans I headed towards the West Gate, finally entering the city as a proper pilgrim. I was so tired and so chuffed.

west gate canterbury

The West Gate Canterbury

After entering through the gate into Canterbury city my first stop was the Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr of Eastbridge. And now I could have my passport dated 🙂 The gentleman behind the counter was happy to oblige and well impressed at my journey. We chatted for a while and then he invited me to take a tour; as a pilgrim. I was nearly in tears. I am a pilgrim 🙂 Awesome.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

The Canterbury Pilgrim’s Hospital of Saint Thomas

Founded in the 12th century the Hospital of St Thomas the Martyr of Eastbridge in Canterbury, was in fact similar to today’s hostels; a place that provided overnight accommodation for poor pilgrims to the shrine of St Thomas Beckett….although of course we pay for hostels, in those days pilgrims usually donated or worked for their keep.  The ‘Hospital’ is a grade I listed building and one of the ten almshouses still providing accommodation for elderly citizens of Canterbury.east bridge hospital and chaucer

Do visit, it is fabulous. I went upstairs to the Pilgrims Chapel and said a prayer of thanks for bringing me this far in one piece. I’m not religious by any means, but I do find it very comforting and special to say a prayer of thanks….and I was really grateful to have been able to walk this journey. It had taken such a long time from when I first started.

Situated on the King’s-bridge, near the Westgate, in Canterbury, the hospital was established sometime after the death of Thomas Becket (1170), possibly as early as 1176, when Canterbury Cathedral became a site of pilgrimage. There are some fabulous medieval paintings on the walls and the crypt is ethereal.

From there I set off for the Cathedral 🙂 Finally I could get my pilgrims passport stamped at journey’s end! I entered the gate as a Pilgrim at 15:36 and was escorted to the Visitor Centre by the young man who welcomed me and called out “Pilgrim coming through” – I was so emotional and overjoyed…

Pilgrim's Passport - Southwark to Canterbury In the footsteps of Chaucer

Pilgrim’s Passport – Southwark to Canterbury In the footsteps of Chaucer

To my absolute delight I had quite unknowingly arrived at Canterbury Cathedral on Pilgrim’s Day; 29 July 2017. The cathedral had hosted a series of events on that day and even though I was a tad late to participate in many of them, I did get a passport of sorts, a badge and managed to get 1 stamp for one of the activities.

pilgrims day at canterbury cathedral

Pilgrim’s Day at Canterbury Cathedral 29 July 2017

I spent some time exploring the cathedral; my first stop the shrine of Thomas Becket. This area is where he was murdered in 1170 by four of Henry II’s knights.

shrine of thomas becket

Shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral

Henry and Becket had been friend since their youth but once Becket became Archbishop his demeanour changed and in due course he and Henry had a conflict. This resulted in Henry becoming incensed and uttered the infamous words “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest!” The 4 knights took this to heart, and on the 29 December 1170 they murdered Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.

 

I love Canterbury Cathedral. Like Westminster Cathedral and Winchester Cathedral it soars skywards to the heavens. It’s filled with an extraordinary array of historical treasures, tombs and memorials. I spent a good hour there and then set off for my reward for all the walking.

Faversham to Canterbury the finale

a delicious treat

And as a treat for my epic journey I treated myself to a most delicious crepe with dark chocolate, fresh strawberries and cream at the Chocolate Cafe in Guildhall Street. Best ever crepes and highly recommended.

Distance walked: 20.1 kms – 7:37 hours – 42063 steps – elevation 185 meters.

I love to explore and am usually quite happy to take numerous diversions to visit something that takes my interest, but one thing I learned on this journey….not matter how intriguing the place may be, I have my limits LOL After walking for hours and miles with a backpack, I find myself quite unable to summon up any enthusiasm for adding another mile or so.

So that’s it, my Southwark to Canterbury in the footsteps of Chaucer journey is now complete. Only took 7 years hahaha. It was worth all the pain and tiredness; I had a most amazing time and saw so many fantastic places and learned some fascinating facts about the history of this amazing country.

If you’d like to read up on the first 3 days, here are the links:

Day 1 Southwark to Gravesend

Day 2 Gravesend to Rochester

Day 3 Rochester to Faversham

What’s next? Way of St Augustine from Ramsgate to Canterbury…starting 30/07/2017 & finishing 31/07/2017

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One of the most exciting aspects of my Southwark to Canterbury pilgrimage was arriving in Rochester. According to the Canterbury Tales Chaucer and his pilgrims stopped in Rochester to visit the Cathedral, a site of pilgrimage in it’s own right, comparable to Canterbury.

Rochester Cathedral; 2nd oldest cathedral in England

Rochester Cathedral; 2nd oldest cathedral in England

I’d visited Rochester twice already in the past 2 years and although I did visit the castle, I wanted to save the cathedral for when I did this particular journey; Southwark to Canterbury in the footsteps of Chaucer, and suddenly here I was….just across the river. I could see the tower and the turrets and my heart quickened…at last I would step through those hallowed doors!

entering Rochester Cathedral - pilgrims shell

entering Rochester Cathedral – pilgrims shell

Rochester is famous not only for it’s cathedral, the 2nd oldest in England, but also for the fantastically well-preserved Norman castle (well worth a visit any day). Charles Dickens, as mentioned in a previous post had many associations with Rochester and a number of places feature in his stories.

During the 13th century, Rochester Cathedral became an important place of pilgrimage for those wishing to venerate William of Perth, a Scottish baker who was murdered nearby and enshrined in the cathedral. Although no trace remains of the shrine today the well-worn Pilgrim’s Steps can still be seen; now protected by a series of wooden steps.

Rochester Cathedral; the Pilgrim's steps - worn away by centuries of footsteps

Rochester Cathedral; the Pilgrim’s steps – worn away by centuries of footsteps

Although the well-known Pilgrim’s Way, a series of track-ways used since neolithic times, has been used across the centuries as pilgrim’s made their way to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Archbishop Becket, Chaucer’s pilgrims did not use that route from Southwark.  It’s quite difficult trying to tie down the exact route Chaucer and his fictitious pilgrims followed, since not only are the tales fictitious but so is the apparent route. There is also quite a LOT of dissension from various experts, each of whom regard their information as being correct….a moot point really since it’s a work of fiction.

Stepping through the doors after my journey that day was quite surreal. I had waited for this moment for many years and now finally I was here. The cathedral is beautiful. Not as ostentatious as many of the other cathedrals I have visited, but has a simple beauty that enchants. I spent quite some time just looking and absorbing the atmosphere and marvelling at the fact that I was finally there.

Rochester Cathedral; the interior of the cathedrals are designed to inspire and awe

Rochester Cathedral; the interior of the cathedrals are designed to inspire and awe

The next step was to find someone to stamp my passport……I saw a man in a long black cloak waft down the stairs and along a short corridor, turn through a doorway and disappear. I therefore made my way in that direction figuring if he went in, he must surely come back out….and so he eventually did. (it’s weird how their cossacks make it appear as if they’re floating across the floor). Anyway, I digress. I went to the doorway with the intention of following him, instead my way was barred by a sign: ‘staff only’. Hmmm. So instead I called out ‘hellooooo’…..I got no reply. In a bit of a quandry now, I wasn’t sure what to do, so banged on the door rather loudly. Still nothing. I could hear voices echoing from somewhere in the corridor, but got no answering reply. So I figured I would just sit there till someone came back out again…..which our gentleman in the black cloak eventually did. In no time at all he had hailed a lady from the depths of the cathedral and she came armed with the relevant stamp 🙂 🙂 Hoorah!

Getting my Pilgrim's passport stamped at Rochester Cathedral

Getting my Pilgrim’s passport stamped at Rochester Cathedral

I meandered about the cathedral enjoying the tranquillity and peace. I managed to track down the name of the Bishop of the time; one Thomas Trilleck who was nominated Bishop of Rochester on 6 March 1364 and consecrated on 26 May 1364. He died between 12 December and 25 December 1372 so would have been bishop at the time of the pilgrim’s journey. I found his name inscribed on the wall above the quire. Some of those dates are seriously astounding.

So there I was, finally at Rochester Cathedral. The lady who had stamped my passport managed to track me down and invited me to attend a service of thanksgiving at 5:30pm, which I duly did after a quick shower and change of clothes at the B&B.

Rochester Cathedral organ...appears to soar.

Rochester Cathedral organ…appears to soar.

Rochester is one of those cities that really captured my imagination. I had seen the cathedral and castle so many times from the train between London and Broadstairs, so when we finally visited I was enthralled. It’s certainly not the prettiest city I’ve visited, but there is so much atmosphere and character with the ancient buildings and alleyways, cobbled streets and phenomenal history, it’s quite impossible to not be charmed. There are numerous places that feature in Dickens’ books (as mentioned previously),

Charles Dickens and Rochester

Charles Dickens and Rochester

there’s the Restoration House that is an absolute must visit; phenomenal, two of the city Gates still stand. The castle moats are till visible, and many of the streets bear the names of ancient history.

Rochester Castle and remnants of the moat, two city gates

Rochester Castle and remnants of the moat, two city gates

Rochester has also been an important centre for many a royal visit and a number of kings passed that way between landing at Dover and travelling to London.

Rochester History; oldest pub in Kent, Restoration house, ancient streets, significant people

Rochester History; oldest pub in Kent, Restoration house, ancient streets, significant people

Rochester, we may have only spent a brief time together this time around, but I shall be seeing you again……

Further information via The British Library

What is ‘The Canterbury Tales’ about?

Chaucer’s long poem follows the journey of a group of pilgrims, 31 including Chaucer himself, from the Tabard Inn in Southwark to St Thomas à Becket’s shrine at Canterbury Cathedral. The host at the inn suggests each pilgrim tell two tales on the way out and two on the way home to help while away their time on the road. The best storyteller is to be rewarded with a free supper on their return.

This literary device gives Chaucer the opportunity to paint a series of vivid word portraits of a cross-section of his society, from a knight and prioress, to a carpenter and cook; a much-married wife of Bath, to a bawdy miller – an occupation regarded in Chaucer’s day as shifty and dishonest.

Chaucer mixes satire and realism in lively characterisations of his pilgrims. The tone of their tales ranges from pious to comic, with humour veering between erudite wit and good honest vulgarity. Taken together, the tales offer a fascinating insight into English life during the late 14th century.

Chaucer’s original plan was for over 100 stories, but only 24 were completed, some of which had already been written for earlier works. Their order varies in different surviving copies, the Hengwrt manuscript being valued most for its accuracy.

More about the journey:

Prelude – Day 1 Southwark

Prelude – Day 2 Southwark and the City of London

Day 1 – Southwark to Gravesend

Day 2 – Gravesend to Rochester

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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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