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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloMonday 27th August 2018 Day 7 – Tanners Hatch to Mertsham : 18.90 kms / 43,317 steps elevation 374 meters.

Even though it’s a hostel, with all the accompanying irritations like snoring, switching lights on in the middle of the night, early risers repacking their bags, I do enjoy sleeping at the YHA. Tanners Hatch YHA was a delight.

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see that bed….bottom left…that was my bed 🙂 perfect – (pic captured off their website)

By morning I was even more determined to book another stay. In the light of morning, sans rain, I had a chance to explore a little more fully….the setting is beautiful, and quite enchanting.

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A couple staying at the YHA offered me a lift to my starting point for today; Box Hill & Westhumble Station. I gratefully accepted as were seriously wayyyy off the Pilgrim’s route. I made myself a quick breakfast of plain pasta and a cup of herbal tea. I was rather hungry by then. Fortunately my trainers had dried out in front of the fire and my clothes too were dry.

A longggg walk later, we finally reached the car park. Note to self….if I do book to stay again, it’s a long walk to the location….don’t take too much stuff. LOL

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Box Hill & Westhumble Station, the starting point for the section to Merstham

By 09:32 I was on my way. I passed the Stepping Stones pub and made a mental note to eat there (next trip??) LOL I loved the house across from the pub.

Within 10 minutes I crossed beneath the motorway….I stopped to admire the beautiful mural before continuing.

Page 78 of the guide: “Walk south along the road with the traffic to the right. At the bus stop go left into a wide entrance. Keep forward past a car park”. Car park?? Uhmmm nope. This I did, except if you go forward you end up on private property. What the guide could have said was ” At the 2nd bus stop go left ….”. This was one of many inconsistent/obscure instructions in the guide book. There were a few more still to come.

My instagram post later that morning: “Box Hill viewpoint: I’m beginning to hate this guide book 😞😞😓 After saying goodbye to the ever so delightful Tanners Hatch YHA, I started off from the Westhumble and Box Hill Station. Not long and the guide doesn’t give sufficient information and once again a local had to direct me. Safely traversed the Stepping Stones across the River Mole and started up Box Hill. Now if you’ve never climbed Box Hill..seriously give it a miss, its a bastard and very HIGH with HUNDREDS of very steep steps. The guide says at the start of the 3rd set of steps go right into the trees which I did, and the field is on the right, but it wasn’t it was on the left, so I climbed back up to the steps, carried on climbing, but no further turning to the right and now I’m at the top of the bloody hill, and if I’ve come too far up (no other paths to be seen), then that means I have to go back DOWN these horrible steps and go back along the path I took originally.. I’ve already fallen coming up the slippery slope. No damage but I’m fed up now with the guide. Either way I guess I’ll have to just crack on“.

Box Hill Stepping Stones. Of all the route I had seen or read about along the Pilgrim’s Way, this was what I was most afraid of. The Stepping Stones. My sense of balance is not good and I was wary of crossing them, but I took it slowly, delighted to reach the opposite bank without falling in. 😂😁😁

Ahead of me was Box Hill. Little did I know that this was going to be the biggest challenge of the whole walk, and also the beginning of the end….

As per the guide: “At the start of the 3rd flight of steps go right, on a narrow path into the trees. The way, which bears slightly left, can in season be sometimes indistinct“. hmmmm

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Box Hill steps….this was not fun!!

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what do you mean I have to go up there?

At what appeared to be the 3rd flight of stairs (the guide doesn’t say how many steps are in the 2nd flight) I turned off and followed the path. “Later it climbs a little and soon is near a field (right)“. Again…hmmmm??? Nope, the field was to my left?? I checked mapmywalk and saw that I was headed very close to the river, closer than indicated on the map in the guide. So I walked back up the way I had come and started climbing the next flight of steps….and climbed and climbed and climbed. All the way I kept looking for this narrow path the guide talks about…and I couldn’t find anything. Further along in the guide he mentions “The path, running ahead and with pylons to the right, is on the line of the PW….” Well, no matter which way I looked at it, I could not find a path that would put the pylons on my right! Unless it was this one? Which was a National Trust nature trail?

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was this the way? it didn’t look like it. it did however look a lot like the path I fell down yesterday

So instead I just kept climbing and after about the 1000th step, steps that are in places so high that I had to lift my legs up individually under the knee with my hands …..and then.. I fell UP a step. A very hard fall that smashed my right shin, left me flat on my face and unable to get up – I just did not have the energy to lift myself up with the backpack on. Fortunately I didn’t fall BACKWARDS, and there was someone on hand to help me up. Seriously, I was exhausted by that stage. I simply couldn’t bear the thought of climbing anymore steps, but I had no choice….all I could do was just to continue going UP and up and up. There were some lovely trees to see….as a bonus LOL

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one of the benefits walking through the countryside…lots of beautiful old trees

More steps….

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more steps…..the gravel between was treacherously slippery

Finally after what felt like hours of climbing more steps that I ever want to see in front of me ever again. I reached the Box Hill viewpoint.

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what a view 🙂

Referring back to my instagram post: “Box Hill viewpoint: I’m beginning to hate this guide book.

I saw that the North Downs Way, which is so well marked, was in my vicinity. So I packed the guide book in my backpack,  and carried on walking….I figured that since most of the Pilgrim’s Way is largely a ‘made up’ route and much of it follows the North Downs Way which is well marked, whereas the Pilgrim’s Way isn’t marked at all….

After walking for a while I reached Salomon’s Memorial where I stopped to take a few photos and then carried on walking along some seriously tricky terrain I came out of the trees to a welcome sight before me…a restaurant!! Hoorah. It was 11:46 and the restaurant; Smith & Western opened at 12noon….I figured it would be a good idea to wait and have some proper food….I hadn’t had a proper solid meal for a couple of days. Good move. I had the MOST delicious veggie fajita, a pot of tea and a lovely cold coke. I don’t usually drink coke, but I was in dire need of sugar. After relishing my meal and resting my feet, after an hour I set off once again. Although to be honest, I have no idea how I actually ended up at this place….but boy am I glad I did.

Diving into the gloom of the trees, with the guide still packed away (?) I discovered that the terrain was really difficult with lots of tree roots, and steps…..more steps!!! Jeezuz. I was sick to death of climbing steps whether up or down. In all I was not a happy bunny. This day was turning out to be a nightmare.

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This last section was a true test of endurance. I’m still not sure how I managed….but I did. Trudging on I followed the markers crossing Reigate Hill

and passed the ‘Flying Fortress’ B17 WW2 memorial,

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This clearing in the trees was created at 5.42pm on 19 March 1945 when a B17 (G) aircraft, a ‘Flying Fortress’ creashed into the side of Reigate Hill, killing all 9 crew members on board

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the two wooden sculptures reflect the wing tips of the B17 that crashed

then Reigate Fort, which I briefly explored,

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crossed the Reigate Hill Footbridge and finally Gatton Park where I  stopped at the refreshment booth for an ice-cream and a drink, had a rest, a quick pit stop to the loo and after taking a photo of the views and the sundial I picked up what was now the Pilgrim’s Way again and set off towards Merstham and my bed for the night.

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what a fantastic view

Its been a day of sheer unadulterated endurance. But I’m nearly at my destination. Hoorah

Gatton Park is really beautiful and I so enjoyed walking along what was now fairly flat terrain.

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hoorah….no steps

On the way down the hill I passed the Millennium Stones; these awesome stones, built to resemble a megolithic stone circle, were created by Richard Kindersley during 1998 to 1999 to mark the double millennium from AD1 to AD2000. The first stone in the series is inscribed with the words from St John’s Gospel, “in the beginning the word was …”. The subsequent nine stones are carved with quotations contemporary with each 200 year segment, ending with the words of T S Eliot.

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Millenium Stones

After examining the circle and reading some of the inscriptions, I left the stones behind me and after crossing one last green field, I soon reached a more suburban area….nearly there 🙂

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at the end of this field was my destination…Merstham

Finally I was in Merstham. It was exactly 7pm and I was so ready for bed.

Thankfully the AirBnb wasn’t too far from where the path ended so in no time at all I found the venue and was greeted by two of the loveliest hosts I have ever met. They were so welcoming, made me a lovely mug of tea and provided some hot food. We had a lovely conversation and then with my eyes barely held open, I made my way upstairs, had a hot hot shower and hopped into bed. Bliss

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my wonderful bed at the Merstham AirBnb

My instagram post: Merstham: Well. All I can say is that today’s lesson was about not giving up despite the pain, the exhaustion, the frustration and climbing more steep steps than I ever expected or wanted or ever plan to do again 😂 😂 😂 Frankly I even amazed myself today at my capacity for endurance. But I can say for sure that I did not enjoy today’s walk. I am shattered, and walked so slowly that I’m surprised 🤨 🤨 that I actually got to Merstham at the time I did. My right hip was exceptionally painful today after yesterday’s fall and falling on the steps at Box Hill today didn’t help matters much. Getting to the top of the hills; Box Hill and Reigate, was excruciating but oh my gosh, the views… Stunning. I dosed myself up on 2000 mg of paracetamol over the day and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. However, arrive I did. My Airbnb hosts are absolutely lovely and we had a wonderful chat over a hot cuppa, I’ve wallowed in a scalding hot shower and now I’m horizontal on that fantastic bed. The route was meant to be 15.6 kms, I walked 18.9 kms which included about retracing my steps 3 times. I left Westhumble Station at 9.15 am and arrived at Merstham at 7pm with an hour for lunch and 3 short breaks. The guide book suggests it should take 3.5 hours  😂 😂 😂 😂 😂 on another planet maybe 🙄🙄🙄

Both the best and most challenging of days. Once again I had to dig deep to carry on, tried to ignore the pain of the 2 falls, enjoyed the views, appreciated good food and climbed more stairs that I ever want to EVER again LOL. But now I’m in a deliciously comfy bed, clean and refreshed….Goodnight…..

p.s. that bottle of water on the bed-stand….remained unopened.

In case you missed Day 6 of my pilgrimage from Winchester click here

Today video of scenes from Day 7

 

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloSunday 26th August 2018 Day 6 – Guildford to Tanners Hatch : 9.73 kms / 21155 steps    elevation 216

after a fairly good night’s sleep I started off fairly early after a solid breakfast. Walking along the main road, I was wishing it wasn’t Sunday so I could take the bus back to St Catherine’s village LOL

I reached Ye Olde Ship Inn fairly quickly. First stop was St Catherine’s Chapel;

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St Catherine’s Chapel, Guildford

built around 1317 as a chapel of ease for St Nicholas Church in Guildford, the building was abandoned during the reformation. A lovely little kitty visited me for a chat while I was exploring. The views from the hill were amazing.

Trotting back the first of MANY a downhill over the day, I walked along Ferry Lane passing some super houses towards the River Wey where I discovered this lovely little poem alongside the stream.

I crossed the bridge over the river and walked through a really beautiful nature reserve.

I reached a large green; Shalford Park and following the guide crossed the road and into one of the very few references to the Pilgrims Way I saw along the whole way. Not all roads are pretty.

Passing a pretty cottage that looks like it has the best location ever,

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my ideal location

I followed the sandy lane and soon entered Chantry Wood….now this is more like it. Dappled sunlight shone through the leafy trees, with a breath-taking view across the fields. I stopped for a short while for food etc and watched the world go by…everyone and their uncle cycled past! Weird.

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Chantry Wood, the Pilgrim’s Way

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fantastic views across Surrey

Just after I pulled my backpack on and started walking again, it started to rain and that’s where my troubles began…the ground is very rutted and very sandy in some areas, and walking in the rain along slippy gravel roads was no fun at all, albeit very beautiful. I had by now lost one of the feet off Gemini (my walking poles) and was walking with only one pole, so it was quite tricky to keep my balance. Beside that I couldn’t walk with a pole and carry a guide book in my hand at the same time LOL

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The Pilgrim’s Way

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The Pilgrim’s Way – many feet have passed this way…

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my ideal environment, along the Pilgrim’s Way – flat!!!

I eventually reached St Martha’s Hill about an hour and half after leaving St Catherine’s Chapel and set about climbing and climbing and climbing. Jeepers….I knew from the guide that it was a hill, but holy moly, it’s one thing seeing a hill on a map to actually climbing it with a heavy backpack in the rain. But twas sooo well worth the effort for the views.

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Sometimes called Martyr’s Hill after Thomas Becket, the hill rises 570 feet above sea level giving a view of 7 counties…on a clear day. Today was NOT a clear day, but the view was still amazing. The church; Church of St Martha on the Hill, dating from about 1100, is the church the old man that I met had mentioned the day before near Seale.

The church stands at 573 feet above sea-level and the views are extraordinary. It’s traditionally believed that the original name of the hill was Saints and Martyrs Hill, the martyr being St Thomas of Canterbury.  It is the only church in Surrey to be right on the Pilgrims’ Way.  I stepped through the door to explore and managed a few minutes visit before the morning service began. The Verger kindly signed my pilgrim’s passport and showed me around, pointing out a few of the more significant features. There’s a stained glass window featuring St Thomas Becket.

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I left the church and set off downhill as per the guide. It was raining quite solidly by now and the ground was very wet and slippery. I went down down down and down some more…hanging onto the roots of trees and anything else I could get my hands onto, I slipped and slid down a very steep and most unpleasant pathway; almost vertical. A few people passed me going up..possibly to the church. As I walked I kept referring to the guide for the landmarks, but wasn’t seeing them. I was becoming a tad concerned that I may well be going the wrong way. Suddenly and without any warning I slipped and fell….really hard, onto my bottom. It took the wind out of my sails. I decided to check my walking app and yes, I was definitely not going in the right direction….now, in pain, and slipping on the wet sand, I had to climb back up this blasted hill. It turns out I had been heading downhill towards Chilworth Manor….which was not my destination. urgh.

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going the wrong way… downhill

Finally I got myself back up, reached the crest of the hill and tried to decipher the instructions in the guide, and after much head scratching I realised where I had gone wrong. “Walk through the churchyard and on the far side follow the sandy path which soon veers slightly to the right to go downhill”. Which is what I had done in the first place. What he doesn’t say is that the correct side is directly behind the church (going east) and not to the side (going south). While doing my research on the history of the church, I noticed this information: (The knoll is crossed east-to-west by the Pilgrims’ Way, which is otherwise on the North Downs.) Now THAT would have been useful information in the guide!!!

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leaving St Martha on the Hill church through the EAST gate, not the south LOL

I was totally unimpressed and in quite a lot of pain by now.  But I pulled up my big girl panties and made my way down what was a very sandy path, but a lot less steep and somewhat easier to navigate. the writer may want to rethink his description for this section (amongst others). I now saw the landmarks mentioned in the guide…hoorah! I was on the right track, albeit still very steep and very slippery and it was still raining. I was getting more and more wet, despite the rain poncho, and wasn’t very happy.

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although I’m on the right track, this was almost as bad as the wrong track..slippery and wet

The promised landmarks were now visible and accounted for….

I trudged on but somehow I was totally off course and ended up walking along the very busy A25 motorway, with cars rushing past. I managed to criss-cross the duel carriageway according to where it was safe to walk, and eventually I reached The Silent Pool just on 12.40. Beyond arriving at The Silent Pool I really had no idea which way I was meant to go. I had packed the guide away because it was getting soaked in the rain and besides which I couldn’t see through my misted up glasses.

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The Silent Pool…..a really beautiful place….and it’s still raining

My planned accommodation for the night was YHA Tanners Hatch on Ranmore Common which was well off the Pilgrim’s Way route. Since I had no idea where I was in relation to the YHA, was soaking wet and totally dispirited and totally so not in the mood for any further walking, I made the difficult decision to quit for the day. However, being a Sunday, none of the taxis would come out for less than £20, so since I did have to continue on to Shere…only another 2 miles they said, I continued walking. 😦

My instagram post revealed just how dispirited I was feeling : “The Dabbling Duck, Shere: Well I’ve had to concede defeat and quit for today. Its been raining since 10.15, I’m soaked to the skin, I can’t see out my glasses to read the guide book, which is a moot point since the book is so wet I cant see the words. 😢😢😢 I’ve stopped in a village called Shere which is roughly halfway, having lunch of lovely hot tomato soup and a pot of tea. I’ve organised a cab to pick me up and take me to my accommodation for tonight. The paths are treacherous and slippery or just puddles of water and I’ve already had a fall walking THE WRONG way down a virtually vertical path down St Martha’s Hill, nothing damaged except my dignity. Except I then had to climb back up again, at which point I surveyed the landscape more thoroughly and found the right way. One of those slightly obscure instructions again. By the bottom of the hill I abandoned the guide book and put my glasses in my pouch and followed my nose, finally arriving by luck at Silent Pool. From there they guided me to Shere where my walking for today must end. From here its on to my accommodation for tonight, a hot shower and bed. I believe tomorrow will be better weather. Hmm 🙄🙄🙄😜😜 So onwards.

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The Dabbling Duck; a hot bowl of red pepper soup and rustic bread. delicious

Shere…oh my gosh…what a stunning village. Despite the rain, I was enchanted by the architecture. One of those villages that you wish you could live in; Shere is your quintessential English village with picturesque ancient houses, quaint beyond words. It’s featured in Bridget Jones’s Diary amongst other films. I am definitely going to visit again. Delighted to discover that Shere is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book 🙂

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By now, being wet and very cold and as mentioned before (LOL), I had to sit in a tiny corner of the restaurant to avoid dripping water all over the place. I was absolutely not in the mood for walking. So I gave up and arranged for a cab to take me the final distance to the YHA. I enjoyed the soup at the Dabbling Duck and the tea warmed me up. It was a very good idea to have a meal since there was nothing at the YHA and I didn’t have any food on me besides dried pasta (which I had for breakfast the next day).

My final instagram post for the day – Tanners Hatch: Just about the time that I was starting to despair, after having walked another 4 kms in the rain (after my cab dropped me at the post code but not the location  which is seriously remote and off the grid 🙄) I popped in at a farm for directions. I could see the YHA on my Google maps but not how to get there. 😢😢 Anyways eventually I found the place after stumbling about and almost caving in to despair, and after checking in, I have a bed for the night, a dry towel, dry clothes and a cup of lovely hot herbal tea. Atm I’m sitting in the lounge of the hostel and knitting the 2nd bootee of a pair while chatting to the other occupants.

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bootees for Peanut – I’m hoping these bootees will encourage my grandchild to be adventurous

There’s a marvellous fire burning brightly in the grate and its lovely and cosy. I’m almost dry and nearly warm 😊😊 So glad I decided to use my contingency fund towards a cab and get here earlier, I would never have found this place in the dark.😖😖 So this is me, signing out till tomorrow.

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our YHA host; Dave got a lovely hot raoring fire going…just the ticket

The area around the YHA is stunning, trees everywhere you look and so many shades of green. Although it was very wet, it was so beautiful I wished I could stay a few days. I’ll definitely have to go back.

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tucked away amongst the trees; YHA Tanners Hatch

After chatting to the other hostelers over tea and the delicious warmth of the fire, I said goodnight and went to bed at about 9pm. Oh gosh I was soooo tired. Too many hills, too much rain, too cold and too hungry. Oh well….onwards LOL

For more about the history of St Martha’s Church http://www.parishofchilworth.org.uk/history/st-marthas/full-history/

In case you missed Day 5 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here

A short video of the walk; scenes of the route

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloThursday 23rd August 2018 Day 3 – Four Marks/Alton to Farnham : 18.8 kms / 40,128 steps elevation 125 meters –
This should have been a lot more, but for some reason map my walk stopped working well before Farnham and I didn’t notice till I stopped for pizza.

Started off early today so I could visit the Jane Austen house museum and church in Chawton. Wonderful. 3.02kms / 7,731 steps

Chawton was an absolute delight. I walked along to see the house where Jane’s brother Edward lived after he was adopted by the Knight’s and subsequently inherited. Unfortunately the house wasn’t open for visiting, but the church was amazing. So incredible to think that she, Jane Austen, walked through that very entrance all those years ago. Quite extraordinary.

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St Nicholas Church Chawton

The Jane Austen House Museum is so poignant and it was amazing to have been able to visit it. I enjoyed a quiet stroll through the house, having arrived just before a large group fortunately, so I was able to take some lovely photos. From there I walked back to the main road and took the bus to Alton. My time in Chawton had eaten up a substantial part of the morning and I had along way to go, and it was raining…..I’ll do a separate blog about the house

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Jane Austen’s House Museum, Chawton

I found a fairy house 😊😊😊 Saw this in Chawton after a visit to Jane Austen’s House.

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a fair house in Chawton

In Alton my sleeping bag and I parted company. I’d managed to sort accommodation for the 3 outstanding nights, so sent it home. Never has the expression ‘a weight off my shoulders’ meant exactly that!! It cost more to post it than what I paid for the blessed thing. 🤔🙄🙄

I stopped for lunch in Alton before visiting St Lawrence Church. It was raining when I left the AirBnb this morning, but the sun came out just after midday, so I was looking forward to a good day. I felt more energetic today than yesterday.

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lunch in Alton

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Today I ‘hit the hills’ OMG…up and down and down and up in a never ending climb. I saw some fantastic houses and stopped off in some stunning churches, but holy moly….the camino wasn’t like this..although Spain got quite hilly, it wasn’t till after I had been walking for 6 days!!! I had a chance to aclimatise! Truly this day wore me out 😦

The villages along the route are a delight!! So many quaint little houses; those picture-postcard houses you see…..just stunning.

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In Holybourne I stopped off at the Church of Holy Rood, dating back to the 10th century. Unfortunately it was closed but there was a lovely big pond or “bourne” nearby with a bench, so I stopped, took my shoes and socks off and stretched out for an hour while I chatted to my daughter back home. The joy of whatsapp 😉 It was so peaceful and relaxing with chimes hanging from the branches of the trees gently tinkling in the breeze and ducks and wild birds flitting about. Heaven. Before I left I briefly meandered through the village….stunning houses…oh my gosh.

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The church in Holybourne

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my resting spot for today

Then back to the route which was a varied as you could imagine……

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Just before Upper Froyle I saw there was a pub (off the route – a long way off the route!!); The Hen and Chicken, at the bottom of the hill and decided to stop there for lunch. I arrived ordered a coke and a plate of hot chips. The coke was delivered quite quickly and then I waited and waited and waited….no chips. Eventually I went up to the counter and asked when they were likely to arrive…only to be told by the dim-witted girl behind the counter who was too busy flirting with the men who were arriving during the 45 minutes I waited…that Oh I didn’t realise you wanted food!! FFS. How often do you have to say “and a plate of hot chips please” for it to penetrate the fog? I was so angry. Not only was I still hungry, I had wasted nigh on an hour and I still had to climb back up the blasted hill to return to the route! Gahhhh.

I very grudgingly retraced my steps and soon reached Upper Froyle where I stopped at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary. There has been a church on this site for over 1000 years, and parts of the building date from the 1300s. The interior is beautiful. I absolutely love these old churches and am quite addicted to visiting them.

Not long after that I walked past Pax Hill (Peace Hill): near Bentley was the family home of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement, and his wife, Olave

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Paxhill –

Bentley was the next village up where I stopped at the 12th century St Mary’s Church for a bit of respite. I quickly popped into the church then sat in the yard for a rest,  after which I walked along the path to see the ancient yew trees mentioned in the guide book. Phenomenal. The life-span of Yew trees stretch back into pre-history with some of them reaching a girth of 6m or more.

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awesome Yew trees

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double-canopy ancient Yew trees propped up in the churchyard in Bentley

After that I went on a fruitless jaunt to find something mentioned in the guide book, and ended up doing a completely wasted effort and a lot more walking than I wanted!!

I passed from Hampshire into Surrey quite late in the day; the sun was beginning to sink towards the horizon

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19:26 sunset on day 3 – I was hoping to see more sunsets actually, but mostly it was cloudy

shortly after this I saw another sign: St Swithun’s Way and got really excited…totally forgetting that I walk at a pace of 4kms an hour when I’m not exhausted, and don’t have a heavy backpack on!!! Sob Sob It took over an hour before I reached Farnham

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Farnham!!!! – still a way to go

Not long after passing this sign I crossed the county boundary from Hampshire into Surrey….

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looking back ……I crossed from Hampshire into Surrey under that tree at 19:40

I passed a group of cows having dinner and was soon in the precincts of Farnham.

walking the pilgrims way, map my walk, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, domesday book villages, day 3 alton to farnham

….till the cows come home

I had a fantastic, albeit very tiring day – saw awesome churches, gorgeous historical houses, got 2 stamps for my passport and went on a couple of fruitless jaunts to see things mentioned in the guide, that I couldn’t find….even the locals had no freaking idea what I was talking about 😳🤔🤔🤔

And then: Farnham – Finally!! I reached Farnham!!! I couldn’t believe how long it took.  Making my way downhill I sat down, or should I say almost sank onto the floor in exhaustion, in Pizza Express at exactly 9pm. I don’t usually drink coke, but I can tell you that I desperately needed a sugar rush…. it was a hard day (who knew England had so many bloody hills!!!) I’d been walking in the gloaming since 20:11 literally right after I took the photo of the cows 😂 😂 😂 but thankfully I had my reflective night gear on so I was visible along the gravelled, very uneven, unlit, and steadily darkening roads – I didn’t see a soul for well over 2 hours before I got to Farnham and for much of the way I stumbled along in the dark 🙄🙄🙄 But I made it. I passed Farnham Castle on the way in, it looks awesome. Will have to visit tomorrow.

While having pizza I did a google map search for my accommodation and discovered that earlier when I arrived, I had unknowingly walked right past the place where I was to stay for the night 🙄🙄 and I was so tired I couldn’t bear the thought of having to walk back up what was a steep hill. After pizza, I decided to get a taxi to my AirBnb and getting to bed 🛏️ as soon as possible…but it was not to be….I called for a cab to take me back up the hill. There was a 45 minute wait and it was already 9.40 pm so I pulled on my big girl panties and started walking back uphill. But when I got to the turn off it was absolutely pitch dark and I couldn’t see a thing. So in desperation I phoned the cab company again and I think the controller could hear the despair in my voice coz she sent me a driver immediately. However, when he got there he refused to drive me coz the roads were gravel and he didn’t want to damage his car. 😩😩 ffs.

Anyway after 5 minutes of serious persuasion he let me in the cab and driving slowly we trundled up the hill and to my destination… Arrived just before 11pm. 😳 Holy moly. Ridiculous. Thankfully my hosts had been out for dinner themselves so were still up and happy to wait for me to arrive! So embarrassing.

My bed for the night.

walking the pilgrims way, map my walk, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, domesday book villages, day 3 alton to farnham

my delicious bed 🙂 – AirBnB delivers again

I was so relieved to finally get to my Airbnb I would have slept in a stable, but fortunately I had this gorgeous bed to fall into. Quick shower and into bed 😴😴😴😴

Goodnight all. Catch up with you tomorrow.
A short video of Day 3 along the Pilgrim’s Way

In case you missed Day 2 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloWednesday 22nd August 2018 Day 2 – Alresford to Four Marks : 20.02kms / 46,970 steps elevation 260 meters

After a really good night sleep despite the hardness of the floor, I rose early, had a leisurely cup of tea, some breakfast of granola and fruit. Dressed and washed I packed up, folded all the loaned camping items up neatly and returned the room to pre-Cindy, then making sure the kitchen was clean and tidy, just after 09:30 I locked up and made my way around to the front of the church to explore the interior.

St John’s Church was probably first built before the Norman conquest and is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.

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St John’s Church – New Alresford

 

 

 

The interior of the church is so beautiful and well worth a visit.

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Alresford, mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book is now a pretty Georgian Market Town and I wish I’d had more time to explore.

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Before I left I had a quick walk along the High Street to the far end, bought a packet of dried banana slices (oh my word, they are delicious and provide a lot of nourishment) then making my way back to the route I set off…… ahead of me was a day of 11 stiles!!!

10:44 The Cricketer’s, Alresford: So I haven’t gotten very far 😂. Pepe, Gemini and I are having a rest 🙄🙄 and I’m having a drink of OJ.

I left the church about an hour before and stopped at The Cricketers Pub for a drink coz I’m already tired and my shoulders where the straps drag on my bones are hurting like all hell. I must remember to get cushioning before my next long walk (🤔🤔🤔) To my delight the chap in the pub is from Pietermaritzburg in Natal, South Africa, so just had a lovely chat. They’ve been here since 2000, the year before me. Awesome.

I’ll be heading onto St Swithun’s Way once again and on my way to my next destination. Fortunately its a shorter walk today. hmmmm.

Bishops Sutton: Perhaps I should have walked to London!! 😂 😂 😂 It would have been quicker. I spotted this in Bishop’s Sutton today. I’ve been trying to take a similar photo as the ones in the Pilgrim’s Way guide book, so was delighted to see this.

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56 miles to London……quicker than 130 something to Canterbury LOL

Turns out that the father of a  friend of mine from instagram lived in Bishop’s Sutton as a young boy!!

Bishop’s Sutton – mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book

Walking the Pilgrim’s Way sentence by sentence. Following a guide book is a new departure for me and I am not enamoured of the idea. It’s too cumbersome – but The Pilgrim’s Way is not as well marked as the Camino, so it has to be done🙄🙄🙄

To give you an idea, I took 4 photos of one sentence, thought you might find it amusing. “At a four-way junction go left by a post box to pass a white house.” 😁😁 Wait? what will we do if they repaint the house a different colour?? I have quite literally followed the guide sentence by sentence. If I read too far ahead, I get confused and forget what I’m supposed to do 😂😂😂 But besides getting lost (ish) in Old Downs Wood, I did alright. 

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I left Alresford quite late this morning and stopped quite a lot along the way. Of the distance and time travelled, I’m sure at least 3-4 kms was having to retrace my steps 3 times and I took about 2 hours for rest stops.

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14:36 I stopped in Ropley for tea and cake

Quite frankly I was tired and really struggled today. It was also quite humid. Sadly no churches today for my pilgrims passport stamps. I saw a massive solar farm and wondered again why our Government is not promoting this more.

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a massive solar farm….surely the way forward?

I’ve managed to sort accommodation for the outstanding 2 nights, so tomorrow I’m going to post my sleeping bag home. It’s just adding too much extra weight.

Day 2 along The Pilgrim’s Way was a lot more arduous than Day 1 and I climbed over more stiles than I ever want to see in my life again ever!!

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I arrived in Four Marks at about 17:30 and my lovely hosts fetched me from the local Garden Centre…truly I doubt I could have walked much further.

I stayed at a fantastic AirBnB tonight, they even washed and dried my clothes. Bonus

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my bed for the night in Four Marks – AirBnB

Today was tough…..looking forward tomorrow since I will be visiting Chawton where Jane Austen lived for a time.

After a lovely scalding hot shower and hair wash, I slipped between the covers and before long I was in dreamland….Goodnight!

I have created a video that you might enjoy of the day

In case you missed Day 1 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here

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Lest We Forgetsilent soldiers, silent silhouettes, world war one, blood swept lands and seas of red, centenary, lest we forget,

As part of the many events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War, a number of Silent Silhouettes were installed in different parts of the country.

I first saw these ghostly figures in London at St Pancras station one day as I was in transit from work to home.

silent soldiers, silent silhouettes, world war one centenary, lest we forget,

Silent Silhouettes

I saw a few more as I was walking The Pilgrim’s Way in August.

Puttenham –

silent soldiers, silent silhouettes, world war one centenary, lest we forget,

Silent Silhouette – Puttenham

Chaldon

silent soldiers, silent silhouettes, world war one centenary, lest we forget,

Silent Silhouette – Chaldon

Limpsfield

silent soldiers, silent silhouettes, world war one centenary, lest we forget,

Silent Silhouettes – Limpsfield

A poignant and fitting reminder of the huge sacrifice that was made by ordinary people; people who believed in freedom and King and country….and who can forget the extraordinary Poppy installation at the Tower of London in 2014, as people from around the country came together to plant over 803,000 ceramic poppies in a breath-taking vista; Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

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Planting the final Poppy at the Tower of London 11.11.2014

Currently on at the Tower of London is the amazing ‘Deepening Shadows’ ritual; an evolving installation with the Tower moat gradually illuminated by individual flames. A powerful symbol of remembrance.

I’m planning on attending the Remembrance Sunday service on Whitehall at the Cenotaph this Sunday 11.11.2018 as we mark 100 years since Armistice Day in 1918…a day that officially, albeit not actually, brought The Great War to an end…the war to end all wars…..

except it didn’t and hasn’t.

 

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloTuesday 21 August 2018 Day 1 Winchester to New Alresford : 11.94km / 40,690 steps elevation 114 meters

Sooooo excited today!! I feel quite boisterous LOL. I didn’t start off too well though….got myself ready real quietly so as to not disturb my host, checked to be sure I had everything packed, and that the room was clean and tidy…managed to get Pepe onto my back without knocking anything over, got my shoes on and crept quietly out the flat, dropped the key carefully through the letterbox slot, heard it land on the floor…turned around to start walking and…..whattttt????? noooooo!!!! I’d left my walking poles in the bedroom. OMG my heart!! sank right down into the tops of my shoes. Seriously Cindy WTaF?? My horror was unbounded. Now what? I stood there with the hair standing up on my neck and wondered “what to do, what to do?” Well, as much as I was totally reluctant to wake her, there was no option…..I rang and rang the doorbell till she woke up. The sight of her tousled hair and sleep-filled eyes made me feel like a complete idiot. Oh my lord, I felt absolutely mortified.

Poles in hand, apologies trailing behind me I finally set off and decided that if I left anything else anywhere I would just kiss it good bye LOL Taking a quick walk through the streets I hurried as best I could, now well behind schedule as I wanted to catch the 9am train to Winchester….I don’t hurry well with a backpack on!! Got to the station with literally 2 minutes to spare and a long queue for the ticket office. Cue regret for not buying my ticket the night before!!! Urgh. Anyway I pleaded with the woman in front of me who wasn’t catching the train that day and she let me in…got my ticket as the train pulled in to the station and then I ran…slipping on as the doors closed behind me. Whew! Made it 🙂

What a joy to arrive in Winchester again. Of course I had to take a quick walk past the Great Hall, the West Gate and 15th century The High Cross aka the City or Butter Cross, then I almost skipped to the cathedral I was so excited! Followed the avenue of trees and there it was, looking gorgeous. Excitedly I made my way to the ticket counter, pulled out my pilgrim’s passport and voila!! my first stamp as a pilgrim about to embark on my journey along The Pilgrim’s Way – Winchester to Canterbury.

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A lovely gentleman came over and gave me a short tour of the cathedral, took some photos, gave me a viewing of the medieval paintings in the 12th century Holy Sephulcre Chapel, and directed me to St Swithun’s Shrine where I sent a small prayer to the Universe for safe conduct and lots of adventure and discoveries. I visited the crypt (pretty awesome) then lit a candle in memory of my Mother (Marjorie), Mother-in-law (Dixie), and Father (Derrek), took a few last photos and on my way out, one of the Chaplains said a blessing and sent me on my way with lots of cheerful waves

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And I’m on my way, Winchester to Canterbury……with a final glance at the cathedral, I set off. First a quick visit to St Laurence Church then following the directions in the guide I made my way out of the city and along The Pilgrim’s Way. Whoo Hoo. My mood was exhilarated and excited and full of joy.

The route is unbelievably varied; initially following city streets and then through the suburbs, I passed the ancient site of Hyde Abbey (destroyed by Henry VIII)

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site of Hyde Abbey destroyed during the Reformation

St Bartholomew’s Church (I forgot to get a stamp grrr)

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St Bartholomew’s Church, Winchester

and suddenly I was into countryside and a nature reserve. From here on the terrain was quite simply gorgeous.

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Passing through King’s Worthy, Abbot’s Worthy then Martyr Worthy I soon reached Itchen Abbas. Crossing the River Itchen I reached Avington Park where Nell Gwynne (that other Charles’s mistress) lived. I meandered up the drive (it’s very long) hoping to visit the house but didn’t see a soul about. The front doors were open so first I put my nose through the door, not a soul about, and before long (like maybe 10 seconds) my whole body was through the door and walking around. LOL I still didn’t see anyone…but on my word…the room wow!!! fabulous. I thought I might chance the stairs, but caution prevailed, and instead I walked around took a few photos and left. Before heading back to the pilgrim route I strolled across the lawns and enjoyed the green and shady trees.

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Reaching the road again, I headed up towards the golf course where I saw one of the most welcome signs you can imagine: Walkers Welcome 🙂 yayy, just in time for 4pm tea. I stopped off to use the facilities, had a cup of refreshing tea, a piece of delicious cake, by now I was really feeling the heat, and the shade of a tree was most welcome.

Although it was a truly beautiful day, and made for some fabulous photos, it was very hot and personally I would have enjoyed a light rain. 😂 😂 😂 😂 (be careful of what you wish for! sometimes the Universe gives you what you want…not necessarily at a convenient time or day!!)

Oh my word….England is soooo quaint. I passed some of the most gorgeous houses…total house envy!! The route today was fabulous, mostly very flat for which I was grateful.

Scenes from today’s walk along The Pilgrim’s Way:

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Church interiors- I visited 6 churches in total, some had a pilgrim stamp, others not – all without doubt amazing:

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Finally I got to say “I’ve arrived at tonight’s destination after a very long and hot walk, then stroll and finally a stagger along The Pilgrim’s Way”. I’d visited some amazing churches, met loads of people along the route, had some interesting conversations and seen some beautiful places. I met up with the lady who was to open up the Church Hall for me, and oh my word…I was blown away. She very kindly gave me a sleep mat, an air mattress, a pillow and a towel. I could have cried with gratitude. I then sat out under the trees, enjoying the peace of the graveyard and the colours of the setting sun, and enjoyed my dinner of fish and chips and mushy peas.

New Alresford: I’ve dined in some interesting places, but not yet in a graveyard 😜😜

take your pick......The Pilgrim's Way, The Watercress Way, Allan King Way, St Swithun's way, The Itchen Way, walling the pilgrims way, winchester to canterbury, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, quintessential england

a first for me …..eating dinner in a graveyard – First time for everything 😂 😂

I was so amazed at the varying terrain of the route….

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take your pick……The Pilgrim’s Way, The Watercress Way, Allan King Way, St Swithun’s Way, The Itchen Way

The route along the first few days is a mix of 5 different ways; St Swithun’s Way, Itchen Way, Watercress Way and the Pilgrim’s Way, along asphalt, gravel paths, woodland, narrow winding paths through copses of trees, crossing the Itchen River a few times, and fighting my way through an overgrown tangle of scrub, shrub and weeds. Roughly 12-14 kms. Its a lot harder than the start of the Camino last year. But I’ve made it. Hoorah. Thankfully tomorrow is a shorter day (or so I thought).

My bed 😂😂😂 I slept in the church hall at Alresford and they kindly loaned me a mat and air mattress and a pillow…oh the luxury of a pillow.

take your pick......The Pilgrim's Way, The Watercress Way, Allan King Way, St Swithun's way, The Itchen Way, walling the pilgrims way, winchester to canterbury, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, quintessential england

my bed for the night

I was quite comfy. The church is beautiful and I had my passport stamped. Mostly the stamp was attached to the wall with an ink pad nearby and you just stamped your own passport. As I did last year on the Camino, I left a small donation at each church.

take your pick......The Pilgrim's Way, The Watercress Way, Allan King Way, St Swithun's way, The Itchen Way, walling the pilgrims way, winchester to canterbury, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, quintessential england

my Pilgrim’s Passport – Winchester Cathedral 21 August 2018 (the chap made a mistake and dated it 12th 🙂 urgh

End of Day 1 on The Pilgrim’s Way – totally amazing.

A short video of my journey from Winchester to Alresford

In case you missed my prelude to my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click for

Prelude – Day 1 Revisiting the City of  Winchester

Prelude Day 2 Exploring Southampton

Visit again next week Thursday for Day 2 of my walk along the Pilgrim’s Way

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I was in London last week and decided to make a visit to the Imperial War Museum to see the Weeping Window…..a cascade of several thousand ceramic poppies created in 2014 for the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London.

Once the installation was uninstalled most of the poppies were sold off to the public and some went on tour around the country to various landmarks.

14-18 NOW is bringing the two sculptures Wave and Weeping Window to audiences across the UK as part of the Poppies Tour. The sculptures are free to view.

Sadly the tour is just about over but click here to see the various places they were installed between 2014 and now
https://www.wherearethepoppiesnow.org.uk/poppy-tour/

Seeing the poppies once again was so poignant and brought back memories of the day I helped to plant some of them at the Tower of London’s moat back in 2014, as well as the finale on November 11th when, during a very moving ceremony, they planted the final poppy after roll-call.

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Tower of London poppies

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Tower of London poppies (taken when I still did 3 days in London)

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world war one armistice, tower poppies, blood swept lands and seas of red, poppies tour, 100th anniversary of armistice, imperial war museum weeping window, tower of london poppies

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London 11.11.2014

The Weeping Window installation will be at the Imperial War Museum until the 18th November 2018

https://www.1418now.org.uk/commissions/poppies-weeping-window-iwm-london/

Nearest tube station: Lambeth North on the Bakerloo line

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