Archive for the ‘cities and towns of the UK’ Category

Three years ago when we first moved to Broadstairs I had just a tiny inkling of the history of the area known as the Isle of Thanet.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

Formed when sea-levels rose after the last glacial period (around 5000BC), with links to the Stone Age and Bronze Age, at the time of the Romans the Isle of Thanet was an actual island, separated from Kent by the Wantsum channel. This channel allowed ships to sail from the English Channel past Ebbsfleet and gain access to the river Great Stour as far as Canterbury. The Wantsum channel eventually silted up abut 200 years ago which prevented ships from entering it’s waters and eventually it was lost with the last ship sailing through the Channel in 1672; now long covered over and given over to motorways, housing estates, farmlands and wetlands.

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I found this illustration at the Brading Roman fort on the Isle of Wight

However, the history of this fair isle has not been lost and recently links were found to Caesar’s invasion of Britain on a site not far from Ramsgate.


  • excavated a Roman fort covering up to 49 acres (20 ha) at Ebbsfleet, and dated it to around 55–50 BC

Besides Julius Caesar, and the Vikings, another historical figure; St Augustine, landed not far from this very site in AD597 and went on to establish Christianity and an Abbey at Canterbury.

There are a number of very historical towns on the Isle of Thanet, many of which can easily be visited from London. Three of the most notable are;

  1. Ramsgate – has the distinction of being the only Royal Harbour in the United Kingdom; decreed by George VI in 1821, Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor and first came to Ramsgate on 15 August 1823 at the age of four with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, the harbour was a chief embarkation point for the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 aka ‘Operation Dynamo’, and the town is home to the Shrine of St Augustine.

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  2. Broadstairs – aka the ‘jewel in Thanet’s crown, Broadstairs was orginally known as Bradstow(e), a chapel was built here in 1601 on an earlier religious site, here on 21 June 1815 the captured French Eagle Standard was delivered with the news of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon, Charles Dickens was a regular visitor and stayed at what is now known as ‘Bleak House, and beneath the town is a network of smuggler’s tunnels.

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    Viking Bay, Broadstairs

  3. Margate – one of the first English seaside resorts, was a “limb” of Dover in the ancient confederation of the Cinque ports, and their accompanying bays –  Viking Bay, Stone Bay, Louisa Bay, Minnis Bay, Palm Bay, Botany Bay, Joss Bay, and Pegwell Bay, is home to oldest building in old ‘Meergate’, the old Tudor House, built in 1525, and the Shell Grotto; an ornate subterranean passageway covered in mosaics created entirely of 4.6 million seashells.

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    Mrs Booth; The Shell Lady of Margate

Villages on the Isle of Thanet are:

  1. Minster – once the “ancient capital of Thanet”, originally started as a monastic settlement in 670 AD, the first abbey in the village was founded by St. Domneva in the late 7th century.
  2. Cliffs End – on the cliff top above Pegwell Bay is a replica of the Viking longship Hugin, it is believed that St Augutine landed nearby at Ebbsfleet in AD597 (a cross in a field on the Way of St Augustine route marks the spot of his landing, on a clear day you can see the northern tip of the French Coast from the clifftop.
  3. St Nicholas-at- Wade – home to the 13th-century parish church of St Nicholas, after which the village and parish are named, the first rector is recorded as Adam de Brancestre in 1294.
  4. Sarre –  located at the point where the old ‘Island Road’ from Margate to Canterbury crossed the Wantsum channel, the late Roman or early Anglo-Saxon Sarre Brooch was found near the village, is home to the now defunct Sarre Windmill built in 1820.
  5. Birchington-on-Sea – first recorded in 1240 as Birchenton, its parish church, All Saints’, dates to the 13th century, the 19th-century Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti is buried in the churchyard of All Saints, Minnis Bay was once the site of an Iron Age settlement and the village coastline was frequented by 19th century smugglers, and the famous Quex Park and Manor are nearby.

There are of course today a great number of new settlements and villages on the Isle of Thanet, but those listed above are the most notable.

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Tudor House, Margate

You can enjoy many wonderful walks along the cliff tops or vast open beaches along the coastline of the Isle of Thanet, and a walk from Pegwell Bay to Margate Harbour will take you past Ramsgate Harbour, Dumpton Bay, Louisa Bay, Viking Bay, Stone Bay, Joss Bay, Kingsgate Bay, Botany Bay, Palm Bay and Walpole Bay.

Landmarks and places to see/visit along the way are St Augustine’s Cross near Cliffsend and the Hugin Viking Ship, St Augustine’s Church & The Grange (Augustine Pugin’s house), Ramsgate Royal Harbour, Ramsgate Tunnels, Bleak House and the Dickens Museum, North Foreland Lighthouse, Fort Kings Bay, Kings Bay sea-arch, the White cliffs, chalk stacks at Botany Bay, Turner Contemporary and the Antony Gormley sculpture, the Shell Grotto and the Tudor House.

Kings Bay sea-arch

Kings Bay sea-arch

You will find a number of places to eat or for afternoon tea along the way; my favourite in Ramsgate is Riley’s Cafe, there are a few independent clifftop or beach side cafes that mostly open in summer, and there are the more historic Bleak House and the Old Curiosity Shop in Broadstairs, the Captain Digby Pub in Kingsgate, and the Old Kent Market in Margate.

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Old Kent Market, Margate

as well as a number of smaller restaurants and cafes.

In summer dozens of colourful gaily painted and decorated beach huts line the esplanade along the beaches in Ramsgate, Viking Bay and Stone Bay

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Beach huts in Broadstairs

The Isle of Thanet is a treasure trove of history, interesting places to visit, and a large variety of restaurants to eat at.

Discover some of the many amazing walks on the Isle of Thanet

#100 – walks around the UK

The Way of St Augustine – Day 1

The Way of St Augustine – Day 2

The Way of St Augustine Ramsgate to Canterbury – history



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I recently wrote about the upcoming and impending pilgrimage along The Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury that I’m planning for summer/autumn 2018.

Well, now it’s getting real 🙂 I received my Pilgrim’s Passport in the mail today!! Hoorahh! Well actually my daughter opened the envelope for me since I’m still up in the north east of Wales, and sent me photos of it. The marvels of technology….whatsapp; geniiius 🙂

the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walking in the uk, the pilgrims way, walk 1000 miles, baby boomersThe Pilgrim’s Way – how gorgeous is this passport

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OMG I can’t tell you how exciting it all is. I love the planning stages; finding places to stay, reading information about the route and receiving the passport is definitely high on the scale of excitement levels …

I’m really excited about having this passport filled with stamps along the way. I remember how fantastic it was to get my Camino passport stamped at the various places I stayed, the restaurants I ate at, and the many churches I visited….thrilling.

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In fact I’m so yearning to do another long distance walk I’m seriously contemplating walking the 1st half of The Pilgrim’s Way in April and then the 2nd half before I fly to Spain for the Camino Inglés. 🙂

Can I do a happy dance? All on my own! Do you think anyone would find me certifiably insane LOL

I’ve visited Winchester Cathedral a number of times in the past and of course I’ve visited Canterbury Cathedral quite a lot too, but now that I have my pilgrim’s passport, I can’t wait to go visit again.

Winchester is a fascinating city. Besides that it was once a walled city and you can still see some of the medieval walls and gates, there’s King Alfred’s walk around the city, the 13th century Great Hall with a replica of the Round Table; from the mythological tales of King Arthur and the Knight’s of the Round Table, an old mill, a medieval pilgrim’s chapel above one of the gates and so much else besides…. I’m planning on staying for 2 nights and giving myself a whole day of exploring a city I truly love.

My very first visit to Winchester was in 2002 shortly after I first started living in the UK. My visit was in honour of the song: Winchester Cathedral, one of the popular songs from my teenage years, so if course it was high on my list of places to go.

Winchester Cathedral https://g.co/kgs/vmC4DU

But I digress…. It’s the excitement I’m afraid *big grin* I think you’ll be hearing /reading a lot more about Winchester and Canterbury

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Hoorah!!! I woke up this morning to the absolute quiet you get when it snows. It started sleeting quite early yesterday afternoon and before long we had heavy snow falling.

It stopped just before nightfall and I thought that would be it, but no, to my delight it had snowed during the night. I quickly donned my woolies, shoes and fleece, grabbed my poles and set out for the village green.snow in wales, winter weather, villages of wales, travel diariessnow in wales, winter weather, villages of wales, travel diaries

It looked enchanting. I love the snow and am never apologetic for just enjoying the picturesque views it offers. Long may it snow.

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Ever since I first visited this area last year I’ve wanted to take a walk to Chirbury across the border in Shropshire. It’s 3 miles to Chirbury and my normal walking pace is 5 miles in 2 hours. My break time is only 2 hours and I can’t leave my client alone for longer than that, so in all 3 visits to this area, I’ve not yet been able to get there and back…6 miles; just over my pace limit.

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However, the daughter came to visit for 2 days, so on Friday I grabbed my chance. The weather was good, no snow or frost, and bright and more or less sunny. I suggested she make lunch for her Dad and keep him company while I took a brisk walk to Chirbury. So that is what we did…..this also gave me a break from meal preparation, which after preparing 3 meals a day for 16 days on the trot, the ‘excitement’ begins to wear a bit thin LOL

Donning thermals and thick socks, my fleece on, but sans hat and gloves (urgh., I cant believe I decided to leave them at home this trip), I grabbed my poles and set off for the 3 miles to Chirbury.


The roads here are narrow…..very narrow and at sections there is not even a sliver of space to step safely off the tarmac when traffic whizzes by. The roads are also very winding with a lot of dips and slopes, so often, even though you can hear the traffic approaching, you can’t see it….ergo they can’t see me either. It’s a tad nerve-wracking, so I keep my ears well clear and when I hear traffic approaching I get myself as far off the road as possible and turn to face the oncoming cars/vans/trucks and ensure they can see that I can see them. I wave and sometimes they wave back. It always amuses me when they swing their cars right onto the opposite side of the road….a tad over the top (no pun intended). But they whizz by safely and I get to continue in one piece. I only had to clamber into a hedge once on the whole 2.5 hour walk and that was coz I had heard a car approaching from behind a small incline, so grabbed some branches and pulled myself into the shrub as far as possible till the car went by….except the sound of his engine drowned out the sound of a 2nd car not far behind and I had no sooner returned to the road that the 2nd vehicle came flying over the top….this require split-second action and I jumped into the bush and grabbed whatever came to hand…..which left my hand all bloody and scratched. No worse than when the cat grabs my hand, but unpleasant.

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Welcome to Shropshire – Offa’s Dyke

Other than that, the walk went without incident and I relished the sounds of the countryside; birds tweeting and shrilling, sheep baaing across the fields, the occasional sounds of a tractor chuffing about, a horse snorting from behind a hedge, and a herd of cows snuffing their surprise when my head popped up above the edge of their shed. LOL

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20 miles from Salop

They are gorgeous creatures, such big doleful eyes and pink snouts….especially gorgeous when there’s a wall between me and them 😉 Unfortunately I couldn’t get close enough for a photo; would have entailed trudging through mud and the farmers property…suffice to say they were pretty. Still young. I always feel sad though when I see them knowing what lies in their future.

Chirbury, situated in the Vale of Montgomery and just over the border from Wales, turned out to be a lot smaller than I anticipated.

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Chirbury, Shropshire, England

The landscape is dotted with farms, a few grain silos give a clue as to the crops, a 12th century church; St Michael’s, the ubiquitous pub, a shop and Post Office, a scattering of houses, a barn turned into a pottery and nothing much else.  Apparently, according to the 2001 census it has a population of 971!!! I have no idea where they’re all hiding. Although they do have a nursery and primary school, so I guess there must be more houses than was immediately apparent. It’s more like a hamlet really, right on the crossroads of some connecting byways; namely the A490 and B4386 routes, whilst roads and lanes from six directions converge on the village. I’m guessing that’s pretty much how it came into being…..a crossroads developed over time.

According to wikipedia: “The placename was recorded in 915 as Ċyriċbyrig in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and as Ċireberie in the Domesday Book of 1086, and means “the fort with a church”. Its Welsh name, Llanffynhonwen, means “the church of the white well” or “…of the holy well”. The fact that it’s a Domesday Book village is thrilling…now I can add another to the growing list on Project 101.

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Houses in Chirbury

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Black and White House in Chirbury

The only church in Chirbury, St Michael’s, a Grade 1 listed building, is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. Built on the site of an earlier Anglo-Saxon church (circa 915), the current building dates from the 12th century with an addition in 1330 & the 18th century and restoration during the 19th century.  I love exploring the old graveyards attached to these country churches, they are so full of history.

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St Michael’s Church Chirbury

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I popped over to the pub; The Herbert Arms just in time for them to have closed up to go shopping! *sigh* I was looking forward to a nice hot cuppa and a scone with jam and cream before heading back. Oh well, no afternoon tea then.

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the Yorkshireman and his Wife

Instead I dropped in at the Post Office, bought a chocolate, used the facilities and made haste on my return to Montgomery. I got wet a couple of times, but managed the home journey without too much stress. I crossed over a couple of streams on the way and the River Camlad running east and north through the parish.

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River Camlad

“CHIRBURY, or Cherbury, a village and a parish in Salop; and a sub-district in Salop and Montgomery. The village stands in a fine vale, near the Welsh boundary, Offa’s dyke”

It was fab to see the border; Offa’s Dyke, between the two countries of Wales and England. I love that although there is a border on paper, the countryside doesn’t have any indication and just flows across hill and dale without a care.

By the time I got back, the light had faded and it was getting quite dark, the sun had disappeared behind a foggy cloud and I pondered the probability of carrying my visibility vest in future.

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welcome to Wales

In all a fantastic walk of 9.70kms/6.06 miles added to my January total of 36.9 kms / 23.06 miles – ergo 976.94 miles to go till 31.12.2018 LOL

Today my joints were quite achy and my feet felt really sore from pounding along the tarmac. Tarmac really is not kind to the old body.

I’m so glad I managed to get to Chirbury.

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The weather in north east Wales has been pretty grim recently; much of what you’d expect mid-winter really…..but still hard to deal with LOL We’ve been pelted with rain, sleet, hail and even snow on the crest of the Berwyn’s. The problem with the rain is that it’s a bit like the April showers you get in Ireland…it showers down, clears, you get excited and think okay I can get out now, and by the time you put your shoes on, it starts raining again. I’ve given up and decided just to get on with planning my September pilgrimages. and writing this blog.

Even though I haven’t been out much, I have managed to slip in a couple of walks, one of which caught me out; the skies had cleared, bright blue so I quickly put my shoes on, grabbed my poles and set off. Whilst stopped at the post office for envelopes it started to rain again URGH!! So cutting the walk short, instead I popped into St Nicholas Church; always worth a visit.

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St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales from October 2017

A Grade 1 listed 13th century (circa 1227) Norman Church with additions from the 15th and 19th centuries, the church contains an example of a pre-reformation rood screen brought from Chirbury Priory together with the rood-loft and the stalls with their misericords after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

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Pre-reformation Rood screen St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales

Within the church is the ornate tomb of Richard Herbert (d. 1593). Herbert was the lord of Montgomery Castle, and father of the poet and cleric George Herbert. Also buried here is Richard, 2nd Baron of Chirbury, who died in 1655, the last of the Herbert family to live at the castle. The tomb is rather extravagant as they mostly were and the effigies are ornate and quite lifelike, the features of the encumbents clearly detailed.

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Memorial tomb of Richard Herbert and wife at St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales

At the foot of the tomb are the effigies of 2 knights. Quite marvellous. I haven’t been able to find much information about these effigies.

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Knight effigies in St Nicholas Church, Montgomery, Powys, Wales

The stained glass windows are absolutely beautiful. I love visiting old churches, they contain ever so much history.

The 2nd walk I manage to get in without getting too wet was just before the new band of weather hit us. I was intent on reaching the castle but on impulse I decided to walk up to the War Memorial on Town Hill that I had been urged to go and see…apparently the views from there are stupendous.

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half way up; fabulous views across the Welsh countryside looking east towards Shropshire

So turning off the road I slipped through the kissing gate just before the castle entrance and headed up the steep incline , steps provided by knotted tree roots and stones. Thankfully this was before the rain, but even so the ground was muddy and mucky and my shoes squelched noisily as I plodded uphill. I finally reached the road (muddy track) that takes you right to the top of the hill…elevation 1050 feet above sea-level, as I discovered when I got there. I walked and walked for ages, not having realised just how far it was from the road….funny how folks don’t tend to tell you those kind of details….”Oh, it’s just up the hill from the castle”. Hmmm. As I climbed and climbed two ladies jogged past…I was astounded…the slope was very steep and the ground totally squelchy. How do they not slip and fall. I just take my eye off the ground for a second and I’m over. As always I was ever so grateful for my walking poles. The description on the website I located says:

  • Going: Medium difficulty. Climbs steeply to a high local hilltop. Slippy in damp conditions.

Noooo kidding!!!! After 15 minutes of climbing, by which stage I was beginning to get out of breath, I finally saw the monument.

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War Memorial Montgomery, Powys, Wales and an ordnance survey triangulation station

It’s enormous and wayyyyy bigger than I anticipated. But finally I was there, and the views were as spectacular as I had been told. There’s a viewpoint stone with a disc on the top and directional markings showing where and how far places are from that point. It reminded me of the marker I saw on the Malverns I climbed …oh gosh…..ages ago.

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War Memorial Montgomery, Powys, Wales and distance marker – 1050 feet above sea-level

Although the weather was overcast and cloudy I could still see for miles and miles. The distant mountain peaks various shades of blue and grey, as they disappeared into the distance, the hovering clouds tinged pink by the setting sun.

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fabulous views across the Welsh countryside looking west

From down the valley I could hear sheep bleating and the occasional roar of a car rushing by on the Kerry Road. Thankfully I didn’t meet any cows. It was fairly breezy and with scant vegetation or trees to break the flow of wind it got quite blustery, but not so much that it spoilt my visit. The crest of the hill is bereft of much else besides a massive expanse of grass and a couple of small stands of wind-blown trees.

The memorial is quite enormous and I wonder why they felt the need to plant it so high up. I’m sure it must be visible from miles away. The neighbour across the road very kindly showed me a newspaper cutting of the unveiling on 23.04.23….it’s been up there for 95 years,can you imagine that!!! Weirdly my birth day and month (but not year…. DUH!!)

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War Memorial Montgomery, Powys, Wales,

Apparently it’s made of Portland stone and was transported to Montgomery by train and then taken up to the crest by horse cart. My heart aches for the poor horses…that stone is big and heavy. It’s also quite weird to look at the photo and realise that all the people in the image are dead by now. We are all so transient and yet these memorials we raise are still there and last way longer than we do. You have to be dead to be remembered.

There are not many more trees now than then. In all I walked 4.09 kms/2.56  miles with an elevation gain of 139 meters…

I look forward to the weather clearing a bit before I leave next week…I’d like to walk another section of Offa’s Dyke and possibly walk as far as the river – which I still haven’t seen.

For more about Montgomery’s War Memorial, I located this website which offers further information on how to get there and what you can see.


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Yesterday’s Camino 2018 practice walk took me up to Montgomery Castle. I hadn’t been up for a fair while; snow and frost. Well mostly frost, since the snow was so last year 😉 and I have actually been up once since I arrived here on the 3rd…

I’m trying to get in at least an hour of walking every day now. I remember training most days for at least 2 hours over 18 month for my previous Camino, but I’m hoping some of that fitness still lingers and that 9 months of training will be sufficient this year. It’s not a far distance, but it is all uphill and that final stretch sure stretches my lungs LOL My legs too complain loudly by the time I reach the ridge.

Although not as substantial as some of the castles we get in Wales and the rest of the UK, Montgomery Castle is stupendous, albeit just ruins and a fraction of what it used to be. I love the history attached and wish the walls could talk. The English considered it to be the Key to the Kingdom; the kingdom being Wales, since the border with England (Shropshire) is just a stones throw away and easily accessible with a fair walk.

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Key to the Kingdom; Montgomery, Wales

Built more as a defensive position than a luxurious palace, it played a key role in many turning point dates in the history of the UK…from Offa’s day till the 17th century, when in 1643 the castle was surrendered to Parliamentary troops in the Civil war by Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Chirchury.

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The Battle of Montgomery 1644 – map my walk

Originally a motte and bailey (a fortification with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte and accompanied by an enclosed courtyard or bailey), it was eventually rebuilt in stone. Rebuilding commenced in the late summer of 1223; the 16th birthday of Henry III of England. The castle was eventually reduced to a backwater prison and later demolished by order of Parliament.

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales; the ruined gatehouse to the inner ward seen from the south

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Montgomery Castle, Powys Wales; imposing walls built of stone

One of my favourite things to do when I get up to the castle is to sit on the ruined walls and just enjoy the quiet and the stupendous views. I can clearly see Offa’s Dyke from there as well as the Berwyns (range of Welsh Mountains). I believe there are number of Roman camps and mottes dotted about the country and it’s really frustrating to not be able to get to see them. I shall have to include a visit to this area when I have my motor home. A misty kind of day, in the distance you can see the promised cold front approaching.

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fantastic views across Wales and Shropshire from Montgomery Castle

Before leaving I took a walk right around the perimeter of the castle – looking up at the rocks on which the castle is built I am awed at the workmanship that went into this imposing edifice.

Distance walked: 1.86 miles (2.98 kms) – not much as far as distance goes and certainly not anywhere near the distances I covered during my breaks last year, but it’s building. At the moment I have quite a few projects I’m working on so have to split my 2 hour break between walking and working 🙂




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After completing my first Camino de Santiago in September 2017, I realised that the camino ‘bug’ had well and truly bitten…..at the time I was sorely tempted to cancel my flight and head off to start another route instead of returning home…. I didn’t of course but oh my, how I would have loved to be able to do just that. Prior to this, as mentioned in my previous blog I had completed 2 ‘caminos’ in the UK; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route from Southwark to Canterbury and The Way of St Augustine from Ramsgate to Canterbury…both of which I can highly recommend, although be warned the Chaucer route is mostly now on busy traffic routes, so not as scenic or tranquil as the St Augustine route which is mainly through fields and alongside rivers, and taking in quaint English villages till you reach the outskirts of Canterbury.

the way of st augustine

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

Camino meaning: way, path, journey, good way.

I love walking (also mentioned before 😉 ), and although I’m not in any way religious, the idea of ‘pilgrimage’ appeals to me greatly. I’m happy to take random training walks, especially when I’m working and have limited time, but there is nothing quite like having a specific destination in mind. There are hundreds of fantastic walks in the UK and I plan to walk as many of them as possible, but it’s the long-distance pilgrimages/walks that appeal to me most. I love the idea of the routes linked to saints….they all have a fascinating link with history and since I find the history of the UK absolutely fascinating 😉 these are the routes I’ll focus on first.

Since I’ve decided to walk at least 1 new route of the Camino de Santiago every year for the next 6 years (or more). Researching the different routes has been fascinating. My planned route for September 2018 is the Camino Inglés, frequented by pilgrims from northern Europe, Ireland and the UK as a short easy route to Santiago. I’m also planning to do at least 1 long-distance pilgrimage/walk in the UK each year. So since there is a link between the UK and the Camino Inglés, I’ve decided to precede that walk by following the Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury…many roads lead to Canterbury 😉



The Camino Inglés. “Sometimes called in Spanish the Antiguo Camino Real, the Camino Inglés provided a short, direct route from Ferrol or A Coruña to Santiago and was therefore used by pilgrims of various nationalities from northern Europe, who had travelled to Galicia by sea”. Ref Confraternity of St James

The Pilgrims’ Way is the historical route taken by pilgrims from Winchester in Hampshire, to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent.

To that end, planning my pilgrimage has begun. Google has as always been a trove of information and I found this fantastic website; pilgrims way uk, that not only gives you lots of information about the route, but has a fantastic map highlighting accommodation options, restaurants and shops, points of interest like memorials, historical sites/ruins, monuments and statues and points of interest, but most importantly it highlights churches along the way where you can get your passport stamped. This is VIP!!

canterbury cathedral way of st augustine

Finally through the city walls and so to Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

From there I’ll leave the next day for A Coruña in Spain and make my way to Ferrol for the start of the Camino Inglés to Santiago de Compostela. I had planned on taking the ferry from Plymouth where they have a ‘pilgrims start’ to Santander and then make my way to Ferrol over a few days, but when I did the pricing it was over £300 for the trip…so that’s off the list….I guess I’ll just have to stick with flying. A shame really as I wanted to make the trip as authentic as possible.

pilgrimage to santiago de compostela, the way of st james,

the body of James being taken by sea to Padron in Galicia Spain before being taken to Santiago

It has been widely accepted that over the centuries ‘the way’, whether here in the UK or indeed even in Europe, has undergone numerous alterations, diversions and even obliteration, depending on the era and which king was on the throne…think Henry VIII who was incredibly destructive. So in effect there is no ‘absolutely real’ pilgrim’s way, but rather an extension or addition of routes that over time have become ‘the way’. There are of course the ‘purists’ who are hell bent on ‘proving’ that one way or the other is the ‘correct way’ but even they, the learned scholars of pilgrimage, cannot agree on which was the ‘original’ way…regardless of the route (someone I knew from a few years ago springs to mind….his arrogance in his ‘certainty’ of the real route was breathtaking…in fact I cut him out of my life due to his bullishness. And he wasn’t even an expert but rather someone who dabbled in the history). Even as I write, the Camino Inglés has undergone a reroute to accommodate the pilgrims who don’t want to follow the previous route over some mountains on day 2…because they have to exert themselves. So ‘the way’ is really dependent on which country you’re in, where you start and your intentions whilst walking. In centuries past, most pilgrims, especially in Europe simply stepped out their front doors and walked to Santiago. When I walked my Camino in September 2017 I followed the Portugues route as marked by the yellow arrows and markers, but since much of the way in Portugal, from Porto to Caminha, is now along recently built boardwalks above the beach, you can be sure that was not the original way.

31 days of gratitude, camino de santiago, walking the camino, portuguese coastal route,

Keep the ocean on your left and head north…

The Pilgrims’ Way is the historic route apparently taken by pilgrims from Winchester to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. The route closely follows a pre-existing ancient track-way generally dated by archaeological finds to around 500–450 BC. The prehistoric route followed a “natural causeway” east to west on the southern slopes of the North Downs, probably in existence since the stone age.

along the pilgrims way north downs

along the Pilgrim’s Way on the North Downs near Oxted

I loved my Camino, I enjoyed every single day despite the pain and exhaustion I endured on some days, but in all honesty, planning the walk is the part I most enjoy. The research unearths some fascinating and often surprising information and of course anything to do with the Roman and earlier eras piques my interest no end and I end up following links across the internet…it’s almost a journey of its own. The frustrating aspect of this research is that I am not able to follow through on much of what I learn and have to bypass the places I discover. If not, I’d be walking forever….the history linked to the various routes is extraordinary, and I’m hard put to not get too enthusiastic about following links. I also get really frustrated because of course I’d like to see it all….but time does not allow.

I was sorting through my possessions in December, in the process of downsizing, and found a book; The Pilgrim’s Way – Nellie Kirkham (published 1948), that I acquired somewhere along the way (sorry for the pun 😉 ). I immediately started reading it and was soon totally absorbed, my desire to walk the route now becoming urgent rather than just a desire. So many fascinating places to see enroute. I wonder how much will have changed since she walked.

After I discovered the Pilgrim’s Way UK website, I immediately set about planning my days. There are so many amazing places and points of interest. Although I’ve been to both Winchester and Guildford a couple of times, I’m pretty keen to explore them again in my capacity of a pilgrim….I’ll have to try find out more about places that pilgrim’s of old would have known….like the castle ruins in Guildford and of course the cathedral in Winchester…which by the way is an amazing place to visit if you’re ever thinking of heading that way.

Meanwhile the route planning continues and next on the list is packing for pilgrimage in the UK, and the route in Spain.

Here are a couple of websites you may find interesting.



Have you walked any of the Camino routes or pilgrimage routes in the UK? I’d love to hear from you; if you have, please do leave a comment. 🙂

In case you missed the Camino 2017 blog posts; the start of my camino Porto to Vila do Conde

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robbo worldtraveller

Because I am a traveller I can look down on the birds and up at the fishes. I collect moments and can venture back in time to lost worlds. I seize life and simultaneously escape it at will. Because I am a traveller I envy no man at home.


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