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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloTuesday 28th August 2018 Day 8 – Merstham to Oxted : 20.75 kms / 45,608 steps    elevation 309 meters

My early morning instagram post: Merstham: Morning all. I’m still alive LOL Had a really good sleep, feeling refreshed. Atm I’m relaxing in bed with a cup of tea. My hosts at this AirBnB are/were amazing, they’ve even left breakfast for me 😊😊 These images are from when I was at Shere where I ended my journey on Sunday. We didn’t have network or WiFi at Tanners Hatch so couldn’t share. Shere is gorgeous and definitely bears a return visit on a sunny day. I had lunch at the Dabbling Duck which was lovely, albeit very busy and they initially forgot to take my order. Shere is a Domesday Book village. As you can see it was just raining. I lost about 12 kms of the route on that day. Not a lot, but enough to irk me. I’ll have to come back another day and walk that stage again and probably break it down into 2. And I definitely must have more time to explore Shere.

It amazes me how quickly my body recovers with a good nights rest and a hot shower. My leg and coccyx were however still rather tender, but I wasn’t about to let them stop my pilgrimage. While enjoying my lie-in and cuppa, after posting some photos from the day before, I consulted the guide to see what lay ahead of me for the day.  Apparently “the original route from Mertsham to the top of the North Downs has been changed by the arrival of two motorways and two railway lines“.  So my slight guilt at not following the guide yesterday was dispersed hah!!

But first…Quality Street; once the main road to Brighton, is named after JM Barries’s play Quality Street in 1902.

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the famous Quality Street in Merstham

The famous tin of sweets, launched in 1936 by Mackintosh’s of Halifax to coincide with the release of the Quality Street film, had a bow-fronted shop on the lid similar to houses in the street, which include 17th and 18th century buildings. Merstham, is also, to my delight, a Domesday Book village of 1086 as Merstan; Its name was recorded in 947 as Mearsætham, which seems to be Anglo-Saxon Mearþ-sǣt-hām = “Homestead near a trap set for martens or weasels”. courtesy of wikipedia

I passed the Old Forge, a Grade II listed building, unfortunately partially blocked by a van, but nonethless quite awesome to see, as well as some other amazing houses.

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The Old Forge, Merstham

After crossing the motorway I reached St Katharine’s Church which dates from c. 1220 and replaced an earlier church built c. 1100, it is however believed that there has been a church of some form on the site since c. 675 AD. In the grounds I met 2 ladies from Germany who were walking the North Downs Way. Before progressing, I popped into the church for a visit. Quiet by accident I discovered some fabulous brasses cleverly concealed by carpets…hah! I have a nose for these things.

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The route crossed a motorway, took me through a suburb and then into thick undergrowth, beneath the motorway (not decorated like the one yesterday), through some open fields anddddd….up the first of the hills I was to encounter today! A notice urged me to please keep to the North Downs Way…my pleasure 🙂

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the only selfie I took on the whole 8 days LOL and I obeyed the request 🙂

my instagram post – Redhill: What was that they said about the way flattening out?? Just climbed 2 steep hills in quick succession. Urgh 🙄🙄 mind you the view is fantastic. So today I’ve packed the guide book away since the route from Merstham to Oxted follows the North Downs Way. Hoorah. Much better.

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North Downs Way

After reaching the crest of the hill, I met a lovely old gentleman and stopped for a wee chat, after which I stopped in a field for a few minutes of respite and then a lovely long lane beneath a tunnel of beautiful trees…..in the distance I could see the two ladies I had seen earlier at the church.

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going upppppp

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and uppppp

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goodbye friend 🙂 looking back downhill towards Merstham

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fellow pilgrims in the ditance

I had just reached a junction in the road when I looked to my left (for oncoming traffic) and saw to my delight a signboard for…….’Chaldon 1086′, whoo hoo.

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Chaldon AD 1086 – 🙂 a Domesday Book village

Another Domesday Book village. I had a quick look on mapmywalk to see how far the church/village was, and found to my dismay that it was a good long walk from The Pilgrim’s Way/NDW. But, since these villages are part of my Project 101, I decided to make the diversion (just on 1 mile away) and suck it up! LOL And boy am I glad I did. The church was FANTASTIC. I stepped through the door and found the breath-taking medieval painting; Ladder of Salvation, featuring a drunken naked pilgrim holding an empty wine bottle

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The Ladder of Salvation – a medieval painting in the church of Chaldon

– painted c. 1200, 30 years after the murder of Becket, when the church was in the care of Merton Abbey where the saint had been a pupil. On a pillar near the door there is a pilgrim mark in the shape of a T for Thomas.

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T – Thomas Becket – Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul, Chaldon

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As I walked around the church I thought to myself…”Oh I wonder if someone would be able to give me a lift to the top of the hill?” As I thought this 2 people entered the church. I said hello and carried on out the door. After strolling about the graveyard, I walked through the gate at just about the same time as the couple who arrived earlier. There was a blue van just in front of me…..the couple made for the van, and totally on impulse, the words popped out my mouth “any chance you could give me lift to the top of the hill?”…and what did they say?? Yes!!!! Oh my gosh. I was delighted. I hopped into the back of the van and sat on the floor amongst the detritus of a working man, grinning from ear to ear. The Universe delivered…big time LOL We had a lovely chat all the way up the hill, they were really interested in my journey. Wished me well & goodbye 🙂

My instagram post: Chaldon: Making good progress today . After climbing that hill earlier the way has indeed flattened out. I took a small diversion to visit Chaldon, a 1086 Domesday Book village and the parish church. Walking down the road I questioned my sanity…..going down usually means going back up again. Nonetheless, what an extraordinary church. The west end of Chaldon Church, dating from 1086, is covered with the Ladder of Salvation painted about 1200, thirty years after the murder of Thomas Becket, when the church was in the care of Merton Abbey, where Becket had been a student. While walking around the church, in my mind I was thinking “I hope someone with a vehicle visits while I’m here so I can ask for a lift back up the hill.” as I was leaving a couple in a van drew up, briefly popped in at the church (turns out they’re checking the lightening conductors in the county churches), so I asked them for a lift back to my route….. 😅😅😅 Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. A charming couple, we chatted as we drove and they saved me the long walk back. My prayers were answered and thank you to the Universe 🌌 😍 Where I rejoined the route I saw the very first Pilgrim’s Way sign 👏👏👏 which I would have missed if I hadn’t made the diversion. atm I’m sitting at the Harrow Pub and just about to tuck into a huge baked potato. I’m enjoying today 😊

They dropped off one very grateful pilgrim back at the junction and I set off once again, well pleased that I had indeed made the diversion. As I set off I looked up and noticed the sign board…..PILGRIM’S WAY Hoorah. One of the very FEW markings for the route, I would have missed this if I hadn’t decided to visit the church.

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one of the very few route markers for the Pilgrim’s Way that I saw the whole 8 days

If nothing else the route is varied!!! I passed the house mentioned in the guide: After Hilltop (left with a clock and a view) the way is alongside woodland and fields where I met a lady and her dog….we commiserated with each other as we tried to navigate the mud….the ‘way’ is not always conducive to an easy walk.

Not much further along, at a junction where I had to cross the road again, I spotted The Harrow pub and on impulse decided to stop for lunch. It was already 13.20 and I was HUNGRY!!! I ordered a baked potato with a peppery filling… it was delicious, albeit very spicy hot. wheww. My mouth was on fire. Oh and I had a beer 🙂

Refreshed and replenished I set off once again and passed a rather odd looking folly (probably why it’s called a ‘folly’). The way now took me along a tarmac road and along some lovely shady woodland paths.

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So beautiful. I didn’t see a soul for ages until just before 3pm when I met a young woman out walking her dog. We chatted briefly and then she went on ahead while I strolled along, just enjoying the peace and quiet.

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shady paths – a good place to rest for a while

The path once again was rustic, taking me through woodland and up hill and down dale…and then in a sheltered meadow I spotted a weathered wooden bench. Time for a rest me thinks. I offloaded Pepe and took off my socks and shoes, and lay down on the bench in the sun and just chilled. Bliss. Once again I hadn’t seen anyone for ages.

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a wonderfully peaceful place to rest

After a short rest I set off and shortly encountered the first set of steps (urgh).

The route took me through some beautiful woodland, England’s counties sure are pretty

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I love these benches; they offer stunning views of the countryside

and then…..I took to instagram again…Woldingham: And suddenly I’m on familiar territory. After lots of ups and downs and flats and twists and turns, I can see Oxted ☺️☺️ in the distance and to the left I can see the fields I used to walk along while training for last year’s Camino and briefly, for this years walk. Its been a hard day again, but thats mostly coz after 7 days of walking I’m now very tired, and not because it was just hell. Rest day tomorrow, albeit for End of Life training in Tonbridge. So, none too soon, I’m almost at the end of today’s stage. Show. Me. The. Bed!!! 😂😂😂

Just before heading down to the lower paths on the downs, I stopped off to rest on a bench I spotted about halfway down another flights of steps.

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I’ll be really glad to leave the steps behind. When I did reach the lower footpath I regretted my thoughts almost immediately….the path was very narrow and lined with scratchy prickly brambles.

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not a pleasant section of the route

The sun was beginning to sink behind the ridge and I needed to get a move on. From the guide book: “The path now goes downhill to a hidden kissing gate.” Hidden?? Hidden?? It’s bloody grown over with a thick bush of brambles. I had to bend over double just to get under the brambles. Getting through the gate, bent over double with a backpack on my back was not fun at all. I ended up with scratches all along my arms. Urgh.

Now I was on familiar territory. I had walked these oaths dozens of times before when working in Oxted. It was lovely to see these paths and fields again. I crossed the road leading into Oxted and then followed a familiar route up a short hill with the idea of sitting on the bench where I used to sit on my Camino practice walks. When I got to the top I was absolutely dismayed to discover that some vandals had destroyed it completely

It was so lovely to walk along paths I had so often walked along before. The fields are so lovely and I had seen them at different times of the year

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familiar fields….it felt so good to back walking this path

Oxted: Whoo hoo and hoorah. I’m standing on the Greenwich Meridian Line, ergo I’m just about to cross from the western hemisphere to the eastern hemisphere 😁😁😁👏👏

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crossing the Greenwich Meridian Line

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standing with one foot in the west and one foot in the east

I’m almost at my journey end, and now standing in the fields I could see in my earlier photo. I’m well ahead of time, so I’m going to walk part of Thursdays route just to save some time on that day, coz it’ll be a late start and nearly 20km day. – okay so this was not one of my brighter ideas. I followed the rutted road past Titsey Place

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walking past Titsey Estate – I’ve walked along here a number of times

and had to navigate a swamped area, passed under the M25 motorway and reached the B269. Under the best of times this is not a good road to walk along and I had in fact forgotten that this waited at the end of the route past Titsey Place. Nonetheless, there I was. It was busy. I spent the next 15 minutes dodging cars and trucks by jumping into the hedgerows lining the road. Finally, unscathed, I arrived in Limpsfield village

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Limpsfield, Surrey – a 1086 Domesday Book village

….my destination: St Peter’s Church.

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I love this little church and it holds fond memories…..it was the place where I got my very first Pilgrim’s stamp earlier in 2017 before my Camino along the Portugues Coastal Route to Santiago. I stopped off at the church to look around and stamp my passport and then walked back into Oxted. There are some stunning old houses in Detillens Lane.

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Limpsfield appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Limenesfeld

I soon reached Oxted Station and hopped on the next train to Hurst Green where I was to stay for the night at another AirBnb venue. After a short walk I reached the house, had a lovely cup of tea, some hot soup and bread, a long conversation with the host and then a shower and into bed. Hoorah.

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my bed…..hoorah

As soon as I was in bed I headed over to instagram for my update: Hurst Green: After 7 days of walking, here is my pilgrim’s passport and the stamps I have managed to obtain. Its very different to the Camino where just about every establishment, restaurant, cafe and refreshments stall (even ice-cream stands) have a ‘sello’. Most of the churches I visited along The Pilgrim’s Way don’t have pilgrim passport stamps. I left a message in their visitor books saying how nice it would be to find one when visiting. Most businesses don’t have them either…I guess email has made them obsolete. However, I’m happy with what I have so far 😊😊😊 a record of my journey

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My Pilgrim’s Passport – Day 1 – Day 8 🙂 Sadly not all the churches I visited had pilgrim stamps

From Merstham to Oxted along The Pilgrim’s Way. A good day. I met some lovely people along the route and enjoyed a number of interesting albeit short conversations. At the church in Limpsfield I saw in the visitors book that a lady from Greenwich passed this way on the 19th, also following the Pilgrim’s Way. 🙂 How cool is that!! That’s the 2nd person whose details I’ve seen in the visitors book in a church. And at journey’s end, a lovely host, good conversation, a cup of tea , a hot shower and a comfy bed….what more could I ask for? A leg that wasn’t absolutely aching, would be a start….urgh. I think that pushing that last few km’s along the Pilgrim’s Way past Titsey Place and onto St Peter’s Church was 4 kms too many. My leg was in agony and very swollen. I applied loads of my aloe vera heat lotion and took 2 paracetamol. With my leg raised against the wall, I lay back on the bed and contemplated just how far I had come.

I felt really good at how much ground I had covered, how many obstacles I had overcome, at the number of steps I climbed at Box Hill (for the record = 275 steps!!!) felt more like 27500!!! LOL I was looking forward to the training at head office the next day in Tonbridge, and a day off from lengthy walking and most especially from the bloody guide book. Other than that, I felt good. So glad to be walking the Pilgrim’s Way…a long held dream.

Goodnight.

read about Day 7 of my pilgrimage along The Pilgrim’s Way click here
I made a short video you may enjoy

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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 soloSaturday 25th August 2018 Day 5 – (day in Guildford to explore) 4.68 kms / 12,773 steps elevation 65 meters

I had a lovely 5 km amble around Guildford this morning.

The town is located near the site of the “Golden Ford” an established crossing place; it is this Ford to which Guildford owes its name. An ancient track-way which ran along the North Downs descended to this river crossing. The first written record relating to King Alfred about Guildford dates from around AD 885.

Retracing my steps from previous visits I walked up the fantastic cobbled and pedestrianised High Street where I passed the Abbot’s Hospital; founded in 1619 by George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury as a gift “out of my love to the place of my birth”. Built as a shelter for the elderly poor of the town – 12 single men and 8 single women, it’s not open to the public for touring, but if the door is open do pop in to the edge pf the courtyard for a glimpse of the courtyard. It’s a stunning building and I enjoy popping in whenever I’m in Guildford.

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Abbot’s Hospital built 1619

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Abbots Hospital built 1619

The High Street contains some fantastic old buildings, the Guildhall with it’s marvellous clock.

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the Guildhall and it’s fabulous clock

I passed the Three Pigeons Pub; a mid-18th century pub with a fabulous facade modelled on a late 17th century house in Oxford.

Further up the High Street at the junction of Upper High Street, is a statue of George Abbot looking not quite down the High Street.

On my way back down the High Street I stopped off at the Holy Trinity Church where George Abbot is buried. There was a choir practising for a concert that night; Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’….I wish now that I had made the effort to go watch. Missed opportunity.

I  strolled along the Town Path, a narrow lane that takes you out towards the castle.

There’s a wonderful sundial featuring Edward and Eleanor (1272-1307) on one of the buildings in Castle Street.

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Edward and Eleanor sundial Guildford

A visit to the castle is a must, with fabulous views across the town. Built shortly after the 1066 invasion of England by William the Conqueror, today the Keep is the most substantial section that remains. It is however not mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book so was probably built later. The gardens are a kaleidoscope of colourful flowers and plants.

I searched for the Alice Through the Looking Glass sculpture eventually and found it within a small garden in the perimeter of the castle grounds; a memorial to Lewis Carroll who stayed in his sisters’ house; The Chestnuts from 1868 until his death in 1898.

I walked downhill and passed through Castle Arch; constructed in 1256 by John of Gloucester , King Henry III’s master mason.

As I strolled along Quarry Street I passed the Guildford Museum so popped in for a short visit…..the museum forms the gatehouse and annex of Guildford Castle and houses as fantastic collection of artefacts with over over 75,000 objects, dating from c.500,000 BC (the Lower Palaeolithic) to the modern day.

I had planned to walk along the River Wey to find the Alice and the Rabbit sculpture, so set off, first visiting St Mary’s Church where they were preparing for a wedding. Sadly no pilgrim’s stamp.

I crossed the medieval town bridge, constructed with wood in 920, it has stood for 7 centuries (albeit partially destroyed in 1900 by a flood),

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Guildford Bridge

and found what I was looking for…what a delight.

Along the way I passed St Nicholas Parish Church which didn’t appear to be open. It’s a marvellous looking building and a church has stood on that site since 1300.

Another delightful sculpture is at the bottom of the High Street; The Surrey Scholar by Allan Sly, unveiled in 2002.

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The Scholar, Guildford

After a few hours I made my way back to the airbnb and spent the rest of the day, preparing a good meal, repacking my backpack and resting…a long sleep was beneficial.

Here’s a link in case you’re interested in finding out more about the Abbot’s Hospital
https://www.abbotshospital.org/

In all, Guildford is a fascinating town with a wonderful history and so much to see. Although I have visited Guildford a few times in the past, I was glad of the opportunity to spend some more time there. It’s such a fascinating place.

In case you missed Day 4 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here
I’ve made a short video of my day in Guildford

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloFriday 24th August 2018 Day 4 – Farnham to Guildford : 24.17 kms /49461 steps elevation 228m

I awoke refreshed after a peaceful sleep and comfy mattress. It’s so quiet here, all I can hear is the soughing of the trees and the background noises of the house.

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the view from the bathroom

I walked towards town along the roads along which I had arrived last night….they looked very different in the bright sunshine LOL I also wondered how I had managed to navigate the road in the dark without falling on my face.

I. Do. Not . Feel. Like. Walking. Again. Today. 😂 😂 😂 But I must. So onwards. But first a visit to Farnham Castle.

Farnham Castle Oh My Gosh…stunning. Definitely worth the time taken to explore….as with Chawton I’ll write a separate blog about the visit…meanwhile here’s a sneak peek

After spending a good 30 minutes exploring the castle from top to toe, I made my way down the Blind Bishop’s Steps – 7 paces by 7 paces… Bishop Fox’s steps down the side of Farnham Castle. Very cool.

From the 7th century Farnham belonged to the Bishop of Winchester, and developed to become a town by the 13th century.

From the castle I strolled downhill into the town centre, passing the amazing 17th century alms houses built in 1619 by a man named Andrew Windsor

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Alms Houses built 1619

At the junction instead of turning left to follow the route, on impulse I decided to turn right and walk the length of the main road. Enroute I discovered the museum in Vernon House….fabulous place. Wow.

King Charles I stayed at Vernon House in Farnham on his way to his trial and execution in London in 1649. They even have King Charles I’s night cap that he wore whilst staying at the house on his way back to London.

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the night cap worn by Charles I when he stayed at Vernon House

Leaving the museum I made my way over to St Andrews church. There has been a church on the site of St Andrews since the 7th century, and the building contains 9th century foundations. The present building dates from the late 11th century.

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A quick explore and then I made my way back through town and following the guide set off towards the station.

Farnham appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 and has an amazing history. I definitely would like to spend a full day here the next time I walk the Pilgrim’s Way….the next time? LOL hmmm

Just on 11:45 andddd I’m Finally on my way 😂 😂 😂 4.5 kms walking exploring Farnham and I’m now 2 hours behind schedule again. Here I join the North Downs Way.

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The North Downs Way from Farnham

After a few hours of walking during which I passed Moor Park House…wow, pretty amazing, passed Farnham Golf Club (The Sands), I eventually stopped in the middle of a vast nature reserve to add my dna to Surrey’s soil. (I’ll leave that to your imagination LOL) I spied a bountiful hedge of blackberries; I ate and ate and ate till I was full. Whilst I was resting a little old man came toddling by in a black raincoat. I asked him “aren’t you awfully hot in that raincoat?” to which he replied “I don’t trust the weather!”. We both laughed. “British weather eh! Can’t trust it”. He asked where I was going, so told him I was following the Pilgrim’s Way (albeit having taken a bit of a diversion to walk along the North Downs Way which was quieter). He then proceeded to give me a 20 minute history lesson that ranged from Seale Church to Thomas Becket to a church in France dedicated to Becket and St Martha’s Church in England which is the only St Martha’s church, but thought to be corrupted from Thomas Becket, Saint and Martyr. So I’m now a lot wiser. Bless his socks 😊😊

After that I visited the church in Seale which is just awesome and where I found a pilgrim stamp for my passport. In 1487 the village of Seale was called Zeyle and the church dates from the 12th century.

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and from there picked up the Pilgrim’s Way again which I have since regretted as it runs along a steep up and down, very narrow, very busy, very bloody winding road with cars whizzing by every few seconds. HORRIBLE. 😭😭 I also visited the amazing St John the Baptist Church in Puttenham and finally I reached Puttenham: I rested just outside the village of Puttenham and wished I had a car. 😂😂😂

It was a gorgeous day and I had no desire to walk any further 🙄🙄🚶🚶🚶 ah well. Onwards I guess. Guildford is unlikely to come to me 🤔🤔🤔

I passed the Watts Gallery Artists’ Village a bit too late to visit and much as I really wanted to visit Watts Cemetery Chapel, I was simply too tired so plodded on. The route took me along ‘Sandy Lane’ which was as it’s name suggested……very sandy, and extremely hard to walk along! urgh As the day was drawing to a close I finally reached the outskirts of Guildford and stopped off at Ye Olde Ship Inn, St Catherine’s Village

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Ye Olde Ship Inn, St Catherine’s

for supper…a delicious vegetarian calzone that really lifted my spirits…..walking the pilgrims way, farnham to guildford, long distance walks in the uk, solo walking for women, farnham castle, the north downs way, churches of england, domesday book town of the englandand then it was a longggggg walk into Guildford and to my airbnb.

Today was a hard hard day. I got wet, and I climbed more hills than I ever wanted to….but I saw some amazing places, visited an extraordinary castle, saw a few fabulous churches and some wonderful old buildings. Further scenes from today’s walk along both the North Downs Way and The Pilgrim’s Way. Occasionally they diverge. So many beautiful places. I managed to get a few stamps in my passport as well 😃😃

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The AirBnb turned out to the worst venue I have yet stayed at on AirBnb. But I was booked in for 2 nights, so I had to just grin and bear it. I didn’t have the energy to start looking for a different place. Fortunately I had the house to myself so the comment made as I was shown to my room, didn’t transpire….”I hope you don’t mind but you’ll have people walking through your room to reach the bathroom”. Uhmmm what???? yes, I do bloody mind….you’ll have to make use of another area. The ‘bedroom’ was a walk-through landing between the stairs and the bathroom and NOT a proper bedroom at all. It was dirty, the stairs were dirty, the carpets were dirty and the host had made up the top bunk…hello?? I’m 63!!walking the pilgrims way, farnham to guildford, long distance walks in the uk, solo walking for women, farnham castle, the north downs way, churches of england, domesday book town of the england

I spent 2 nights and a day in Guildford; I’ll do a separate blog for Day 5 in Guildford.
I’ve created a short video with images of the route

In case you missed Day 3 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here

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I was so excited to visit Farnham Castle that I left the AirBnb earlier than I left my previous venues. Walking back along the roads towards Farnham in the daylight was soooo much easier than the night before…..LOL

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imagine walking along here in the dark!! it wasn’t fun

The castle was just a short 15 minute walk and I was soon immersed in ancient history.

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I LOVE visiting castles and towns with an ancient history and my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way gave me so many wonderful opportunities to explore ancient churches, Domesday Book villages and of course castles. A huge boost to Project 101.

Founded in 1138 by Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, grandson of William the Conqueror and brother of King Stephen, all that remains is the keep…which is way impressive. The Castle was the home of the Bishops of Winchester for over 800 years.farnham castle, visit farnham castle, castles of the uk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks of england, women walking solo, history of england, domesday towns of england

The Bishops’ Castles and Palaces – in today’s terms, the medieval estate earned million of pounds each year. The bishops could afford to build on a lavish scale and many did; churches and colleges, castles and palaces. The bishops travelled widely, visiting their manors and their parishes. They frequently made the two-day journey between London and Winchester. Farnham, lying halfway between, providing a convenient stopping place between London and Winchester, would have been a good place to rest overnight.

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The history of the castle is phenomenal and well worth exploring. Don’t miss the historical exhibition at the entrance.

English monarchs, from bad King John to Queen Victoria have visited or stayed at Farnham Castle.

Climbing the stairs gave me a thrill as I imagined what it must have been like in the days when it was first built.farnham castle, visit farnham castle, castles of the uk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks of england, women walking solo, history of england, domesday towns of england

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climbing the steps of the castle keep

I spent a good 40 minutes exploring the grounds of the keep and so enjoyed the historical exhibition.

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The gated entrance – The Bishop’s Palace, Farnham

The castle keep is managed by English Heritage and free to visit.

The Bishop’s Palace is open for fascinating historic guided tours on Wednesday afternoons (from 2pm to 4pm, with the last tour starting at 3:30pm). You can reserve your space by calling 01252 721194.

 

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Before setting off to Alton for the start of Day 3 along The Pilgrim’s Way, I visited Chawton to visit Jane Austen’s House Museum.

jane austens house museum, visit jane austens house chawton, walking the pilgrims way

Jane Austen’s House Museum seen from inside the garden

I left the AirBnB fairly early and since it was raining quite heavily I took the bus to Chawton. After a short walk I soon reached the village. The museum was still closed, so I walked through the village to see the church where Jane Austen worshipped and the house where her brother Edward lived after being adopted by the Knight family.

The church is quite a walk from the village centre, but certainly worth the walk. After he inherited the house he offered the cottage on the estate to Jane and her Mother and sister.

st nicholas church chawton, jane austens house museum, visit jane austens house chawton, walking the pilgrims way

St Nicholas Church, Chawton

Stepping through the door of the church was quite awesome….and rather weird to walk in the same space as what Jane Austen had walked all those years ago. The church is quite beautiful and I enjoyed my time there.

jane austens house museum, visit jane austens house chawton, walking the pilgrims way

St Nicholas Church, Chawton

Chawton House was unfortunately closed, so I retraced my steps to the village and visited the Austen house. I was the 2nd visitor of the day so was able to meander and enjoy the house in peace and able to take photos.

jane austens house museum, visit jane austens house chawton, walking the pilgrims way

Austen family tree

The house is so lovely. Jane lived here with her Mother and sister from 1809 till May 1817. To see the chair and desk where Jane sat to pen her novels was spine-tingling. In her bedroom is a replica bed of the one she slept in

jane austens house museum, visit jane austens house chawton, walking the pilgrims way

a replica of Jane’s bed

as well as many artefacts and poignant items from her life. There are letters

jane austens house museum, visit jane austens house chawton, walking the pilgrims way

copy of a letter written by Jane

and a beautiful quilt made by Jane, her Mother and her sister Cassandra. There are 3000 diamonds hand-stitched in all.

jane austens house museum, visit jane austens house chawton, walking the pilgrims way

the quilt made by Jane, her Mother and sister Cassandra

A visit to Jane Austen’s House, one of England’s historical houses is so very much worth the diversion

I’ve created a short video of my visit

Chawton is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book as Celtone, so I was delighted to be able to add this to my list of Domesday Book villages visited for Project 101.

After I left the house I walked back to the bus stop….it was still raining. I soon reached Alton where Day 3 of my journey started.

In case you missed it, click the link to read about Day 2 of The Pilgrim’s Way

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