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Archive for the ‘The Pilgrim’s Way; Winchester to Canterbury’ Category

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.

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….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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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a replica of Jane’s bed

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

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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.

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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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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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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 😜😜

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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.

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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.

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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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Revisiting the City of Winchester pre-pilgrimage 19.08.2018.

I’ve been to Winchester many times, the first in 2003 not long after I arrived in the UK. It is quite one of my favourite cities and a revisit is never hard to do. Besides London it is the city I have visited most often in the 16 years I have lived in the UK. Since the Pilgrim’s Way starts in Winchester, it was imperative that I spent a day revisiting favourite places and especially following the King Alfred Walk, before starting on my walk the next week.

There’s so much I could tell you about Winchester, but that would require a very long blog…so instead I’ll stick with the more pertinent and juicy bits….

The area around Winchester had been inhabited since pre-historic times and there are 3 iron-age sites nearby.

Winchester, built around 70AD, was known as Venta Belgarum, “Venta of the Belgae” during Roman times and there are small remnants of Roman wall near the East Gate bridge. The 5th largest town in Roman Britain.

Winchester became known as Wintan-ceastre (“Fort Venta”) in Old English. In 648, King Cenwalh of Wessex erected the Church of St Peter and St Paul which was later known as the Old Minster. There are remnants of this that you can see in the grounds of the cathedral.

Winchester was once the capital of England, ruled by Alfred the Great, King of Wessex from 871 to 899.

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Winchester Coat of Arms

Starting at the cathedral I’ll take you on a circular tour of the city….

The fabulous medieval Winchester Cathedral, originally built in 1079; is one of the largest in Europe, and distinguished by having the longest nave and overall length of all the Gothic cathedrals in Europe. It’s architecture spans the 11th – 16th centuries.

The cathedral houses the Shrine of St Swithun (born in Winchester – died 863 AD); an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester, he became the 19th bishop in 852 and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral.

Winchester is the start of St Swithun’s Way and The Pilgrim’s Way to Canterbury.

Take a look at the ruins of the Old Minster to the left of the west door, and be sure to visit Queen Eleanor’s garden , accessed through the cathedral.

Pilgrim’s Hall – situated in the Cathedral Close, and known as the Pilgrim’s Hall as it was used to accommodate pilgrims who visited St Swithun’s shrine. It’s the earliest hammer-beamed building still standing in England.

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The Pilgrim’s Hall

Two of the 5 city gates are still standing: Kings Gate and the West Gate.

Just before Priors Gate is the mid-15th century timber-framed Cheyney Court; once the Bishops Court House is a mid fifteenth-century timber-framed house.

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Cheyney Court, Winchester

Still within the precincts of the cathedral is the Priors Gate

St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate; located above the medieval Kings Gate, one of the principal entrances to the city. Built in the Middle Ages in the Early English style, the church is unusual in that it forms a part of the fabric of the old city walls, and first appears in 13th century records – mentioned in 1264. It is mentioned in Anthony Trollope’s novel The Warden under the fictional name of St Cuthberts.

Jane Austen lived in a house near the cathedral and died in Winchester on 18 July 1817. She is buried in the cathedral.

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the house where Jane Austen lived in Winchester – I was fortunate enough to visit her house in Chawton during my walk

Wolvesey Castle – these stunning ruins, standing on the site of an earlier Saxon structure, were once the Norman bishop’s palace, dating from 1110. Enhanced by Henry de Blois during the Anarchy of his brother King Stephen’s reign, he was besieged there for some days. In the 16th c, Queen Mary Tudor and King Philip II of Spain were guests just prior to their wedding in the Cathedral. The building now a ruin and maintained by English Heritage, its free to explore, the chapel was incorporated into the new palace built in the 1680s, only one wing of which survives today.

Roman city walls – a small section of the old Roman city walls can be seen opposite the The Weirs alongside the river near the bridge.

The River Itchen; flowing through the mill and beneath the old Eastgate bridge, is noted as one of the world’s premier chalk streams. Designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, it supports a range of protected species as well as watercress beds (I saw the watercress beds near Alresford on Day 1 of my walk). The settlement of Itchen Abbas on the river is given as Icene in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The Eastgate Bridge – although the gate is long gone, this pretty bridge crosses the river just before the mill. If you cross the bridge away from the city, just beyond the roundabout you’ll find…..Chesil Rectory.

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The Eastgate Bridge, Winchester

Chesil Rectory – is the oldest house in Winchester; the sign says it’s dated 1450. A link with Queen Mary I; along with the water mill, she gave the rectory to the City of Winchester as compensation for the expense of her wedding. It’s now a restaurant.

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Chesil Rectory, Winchester – built 1450

The Water Mill – this beautiful, working mill, is situated on the River Itchen in the centre of this ancient city; Winchester. Restored and now a Grade II listed building, it is managed by the National Trust. First recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, it was known as Eastgate Mill until 1554.

Sightings of otters passing through have been recorded by night-vision cameras.

Statue of King Alfred the Great – located just beyond the bridge, on the Broadway, this towering statue dominates the streets. He is one of only two English monarchs to be given the epithet “the Great”, the other being Cnut The Great. The statue was designed by Hamo Thornycroft, R.A., and erected in 1899 to mark one thousand years since Alfred’s death.

The fabulous Victorian Guildhall, built in the Gothic revival style, it looks very similar to St Pancras Station in London. The lovely tourist office is located at street level.

The High Street – Following his rise to power, Alfred obliterated the Roman streets and laid down the grid you can still see today; the High Street is the oldest known road in the world (this I gleaned from articles on the web).

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view of the High Street, Winchester – seen from the roof of the West Gate, looking towards the King Alfred statue on The Broadway

The City Cross aka the Buttercross, located on the High Street, and now a Scheduled Ancient Monument, has been dated to the 15th c, and features 12 statues of the Virgin Mary, saints and various other historical figures.

The West Gate – now a museum, is a must visit. One of two surviving fortified gateways in Winchester, the earliest surviving fabric is Anglo-Saxon.  Once a debtors’ prison you can see prisoners’ graffiti engraved on the inner walls. Amongst a fantastic collection of artefacts, the museum houses a unique collection of weights and measures and a Tudor ceiling from Winchester College. There are fab views of the city and the High Street from the Westgate roof. The museum is free to visit.

The Great Hall – all that remains of the 12th century castle, beyond a few underground passageways and walls, and one of my favourite buildings in Winchester, it houses the famous King Arthur’s Round Table, dating from the 13th century, which has hung in the hall from at least 1463. It was painted for Henry VIII in 1522 and features the names of the legendary Knights of the Round Table around the edge and surmounted by King Arthur seated on his throne.

The Peninsula Barracks – The barracks, originally known as the Upper Barracks, Winchester, were built in the early 20th c on the site of King’s House, an unfinished palace designed by Sir Christopher Wren for Charles II which was destroyed by fire in 1894. Some parts of the barracks remain Grade II listed buildings in their own right including the Green Jackets Headquarters and the Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum.

If you approach the Peninsula Barracks from St James’s Lane there is a short flight of steps leading up to the square, these mark the perimeter of the old city walls, of which there are a few remnants near the river on The Weirs.

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these steps mark the boundary of the city

and of a more quirky nature; located on Great Minster Street and The Square, there are 24 bollards – painted by The Colour Factory between 2005-2012 in the style of famous artists of the likes of David Hockney, Henri Rousseau, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Leonardo da Vinci. They are quite lovely.

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And this brings to you back to the cathedral precinct.  If you enquire at the Tourist Information Centre at the Guildhall, they will provide you with a self-guided tour of the city which pretty much covers the route I’ve taken you on, except it starts near the King Alfred statue statue and goes clockwise.

Further snippets:

The Book of Winchester was the Domesday Book compiled by officials of William the Conqueror on his orders and published c1086.

John Keats stayed in Winchester from mid-August to October 1819, and wrote “Isabella”, amongst other well-known works while there.

There is so much else to see in Winchester;

The Hospital of St Cross – somehow I missed visiting this place on my recent visit (I’ll have to go back 😉 ).  I’ve attached a link to the history of the church  http://hospitalofstcross.co.uk/history/

St Lawrence Church – probably of Norman origin, and said to have been the chapel of William the Conqueror’s palace (built 1069-70, destroyed 1141) it is now a Grade II listed building.

Near the Great Hall are the fascinating old passageways from the castle/palace and the Hampshire Jubilee sculpture which is really beautiful

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the castle passageways. not always open but pop in if they are

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Hampshire Jubilee Sculpture near the Great Hall

The site of Hyde Abbey : a medieval Benedictine monastery just outside the walls of Winchester, it was dissolved and demolished in 1539.

St Bartholomew’s Church : originally the parish church of Hyde, a villages outside the walls of Winchester, the church was est 1110 and dissolved and demolished in 1539. Now a Grade II listed building, it lies directly alongside the early part of The Pilgrim’s Way.

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St Bartholomew’s Church Winchester

I had a wonderful 5 hours walking around Winchester and of course a visit to the cathedral, after which I hopped on the train back to Southampton….delighted to have spent more time in this fabulous city. I was now getting really excited for my upcoming walk on Tuesday 21st August.

Once back in Southampton I stopped off for some dinner and now its time for London Pride at the appropriately named Spitfure Pub. Its been a very humid day, started off totally overcast, then blue skies after 2pm. I do love Winchester. The King Alfred walk takes you past so many fascinating places. I met 2 ladies who were just starting the Southdowns Way to Eastbourne….so cool.

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always time for London Pride

I did try to keep it short…I promise LOL Winchester is a treasure trove of history and a must visit…you’ll need at least a full day to get the most out of your visit.

references:

https://www.visitwinchester.co.uk/things-to-do/history-heritage/

http://www.localhistories.org/winchester.html

https://www.britainexpress.com/counties/hampshire/winchester/westgate.htm

wikipedia (of course 😉 )

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Ready?….no, not really. Set…..all packed. Go…oh okay, if I must…

Walking The Pilgrim’s Way

I had been planning my pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury for nearly a year. After my Camino in 2017 I was all ready to just go and walk another, but with one thing and another (like finances and work) I couldn’t just up and go, so I decided that in 2018 I would walk the Camino Ingles. But, before I did that, I thought it would be a good idea to walk another UK pilgrimage first…it seemed like the right thing to do.the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, the pilgrims way uk, walking the pilgrims way, walking the camino, pilgrimage to canterburym

So I set about planning for a walk along The Pilgrim’s Way for 2 weeks and then home for a few days to refresh, repack and then fly to Spain to walk the Camino Ingles, starting on the same date I had in 2017. Plans……?

With that in mind I set up my spreadsheets, bought the books and started planning. It all went really well and I had most of my accommodation booked, put money aside every month, repacked Pepe (my backpack) for the umpteenth time and started with some training.

Then life, as it does, decided differently and a number of issues arose..

  1. I investigated the possibility of taking a ferry from Southampton to Spain, but firstly it was extortionately expensive and 2nd the ferries only went to Santander, which is not what I had in mind.
  2. Investigating flights, I found that the prices had almost doubled since the previous year (Brexit??) hmmm. Not sure I want to spend that much money.
  3. In May I got the best news a mother could ever get….my daughter was pregnant and I was to be a Granny Suddenly knitting seemed way more important than getting out and practising, getting fit. LOL
  4. Summer 2018 happened. I do not like the heat. I do enjoy lovely blue skies, and pleasant summer days, but I do not enjoy extreme heat, and most especially if I have to go out in the midday sun and walk in said heat.

And so it came to pass that

A) I never did book any flights. Which was just as well considering….

B) I spent more time knitting than anything else…the needles were in my hands at any          given free moment….I have loads of beautiful cardigans, bootees and matinee jackets.

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I even took my knitting with me and made a pair of ‘adventure’ bootees for my grandchild 🙂

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Peanut’s ‘adventure’ bootees

C) My plans to walk during my breaks to keep up my fitness levels were scuppered by           the heat, and I was resting on my 2017 fitness laurels. Tut! Tut! Not good.

I did get to do some walking in preparation, but truthfully I really didn’t get anywhere near enough walking done as what I did preparing for my Camino in 2017.

And as August rapidly approached I suddenly found that actually I didn’t want to walk at all…..I felt like all I wanted to do was be at home with my family and knit LOL

But after a few weeks of deliberation as well as a lot of uhmming and ahhing, and some discussion with my daughter I decided to go ahead with the UK walk but postpone the EU/Camino walk till 2019…..which is what I did.

And so it was ready, set, go……

Andddd I’m on my way; finally on the 18th August 2018, after nearly a year of planning and some preparation, Pepe, Gemini and I were on the train and on the way….BSR to SOU via London.

First up, Southampton, where I had planned to spend a couple of days exploring the city, as well as spend a day in Winchester revisiting favourite places. Then starting off on 21st August for the long walk; 136 miles and counting 🚶🚶🚶 Excited. Trepidatious.

This is what I’d be doing for the 15 days bar one. Coddiwomple! What a marvellous word. Love the English language.

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coddiwomple

Wow, how much excitement!! After months of talking and walking (some) and packing and preparing, I was finally on my way Ready to coddiwomple across England; a  pilgrimage Winchester to Canterbury; along The Pilgrim’s Way.

Initially I had planned to stay for just 2 nights in Southampton, but I probably wouldn’t visit the city again in the future so decided to extend my stay by one extra night and have a whole extra day to explore. The other day would be spent in Winchester revisiting favourite places and get myself ready for the big walk.

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The Pilgrim’s Way passport – how gorgeous is this passport

On arriving in Southampton I made my way over to my AirBnb venue and checked in. The room was very basic and simple, but comfortable and had a t.v. Even pilgrims like a bit of luxury LOL I didn’t do much by way of exploring that night since I was quite tired and it had been a long journey, so I just took a stroll up to the nearest food store and bought myself some supper and snacks for the night.

I settled in to bed after a lovely hot shower and watched t.v. till lights out. Big explore tomorrow.

More blogs in the series:

Revisiting the City of Winchester

Exploring Southampton

 

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A few days ago I looked at my calendar and suddenly realised that this ‘big’ pilgrimage of mine that I have been talking about for months was only 3.5 months away!!! Shock and horror. Where has the time gone and how did this suddenly creep up on me. Although I have joined the #walk1000miles challenge for 2018 again, I have been quite lazydasical about getting out and walking….always at the back on my mind is the thought of ‘hey, I walked 240 kms across Portugal and Spain last year on my Camino’ ergo I should be fit!! Uhm, no!! Not really. In reality I’ve really slacked off and once I reached the magic number of 1000 miles in 2017, my brain said “okay, enough already, time for a break”.

Then we had winter. Enough said on THAT subject. Urgh. Mind you I was lucky enough to experience snowfall in Montgomery, Wales that turned the world magical.

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the WW2 Monument in Montgomery

However……with the prospect of 136 miles from Winchester to Canterbury ahead of me, the realisation that I best kick my ass into gear has hit home.

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Pilgrims’s Chapels Winchester and Canterbury

And so I have started training in earnest once again and boy has my fitness level dropped since September 2017. Blimey. So, although I have managed just over 373 kms/ 233 miles since 01.01.2018, I figured I best get my act together and do some serious walking again.

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3 in 1 : North Downs Way, Vanguard Way, Greenwich Meridian Way,

I’ve been working in Oxted since 01.05 and I’ve managed a few walks up to and through the Titsey estate, some of which takes me along the Pilgrim’s Way on the North Downs, albeit just a little way.

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The Pilgrim’s Way, North Downs, Oxted

The brilliant aspect of the walks in this area is that there’s a substantial amount of uphill walking which is giving me an excellent cardiovascular workout. The first day I did that I thought my heart was going to pop right out of my chest!!

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a good cardiovascular workout

This was a tad disappointing since last year, when I was working here, I used to follow that route almost daily and after a few weeks was climbing to the top of the ridge, hardly out of breath. Clearly my fitness levels have indeed dropped.

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walking along the North Downs

Walking in this area is always a pleasure and the views from whichever level you choose to walk are spectacular, at any time of the year.

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View from the ridge; Titsey House in the distance

And now on the cusp of summer is no exception. The trees are sprouting leaves by the million; some of which are that fantastic luminescent green that seems otherworldly.

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summer greens

The rapeseed fields are ablaze with tiny bright yellow blooms that spread like butter across the landscape, so bright you could surely see them from space!

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Bright yellow rapeseed fields

I’ve seen a few walkers, quite a few dogs and a number of rabbits. The weather has been spectacular albeit very hot for long distance walking. We had loads of rain over the previous weeks and the ground in many areas has been sodden, like a quagmire and traversing these areas has been a bit of a challenge!! I took a walk through a small copse of trees hoping to see bluebells like last year’s crop…but sadly most of them have already faded.

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just a smattering of bluebells left

I’m mindful of the fact that we may well have a lot of rain in August and September, in which case I’ll have to be walking through said quagmires which is decidedly unpleasant…..I may just have to get the wellies out! LOL But I’m hoping for days like this..

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across the fields at Titsey Place

And so the training has begun in earnest. I’m planning on walking from Broadstairs to Folkestone in the coming weeks and that should give me a good workout as I’ll be walking with Pepe (my backpack) fully loaded. As always Gemini (my walking poles) are in hand to support me on my walks. I really love those poles now and feel quite naked when I walk without them.

Titsey Place and Gardens

Titsey Place and Gardens

 

 

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