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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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A few nights ago ITV aired “Britain’s Favourite Walks: Top 100”, as voted for by more than 8,000 walking enthusiasts. If seeing these walks didn’t convince you that the UK is a most stunning country with every kind of landscape and terrain you could wish for or imagine…then you weren’t watching 😉

I had initially tuned in to BBC1 to watch Winterwatch so only changed channels part of the way through; wow, what fantastic walks and the scenery is astounding and breath-taking. Watching snippets of all these fantastic places made me want to set off immediately with Pepe and Gemini and just walk….never mind walk 1000 miles, I could quite easily just walk forever.

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my trusty companions; Pepe (backpack) and Gemini (Nordic walking poles) – 10.166 km to Santiago

To my delight, after gasping with envy and drooling my way through the last 50 or so walks, after the programme ended I clicked through to one of the links provided on twitter and was astonished and delighted to note that #100 featured The Stacks near Margate….after closer investigation, I found that not only is this a walk I’ve done dozens of times, but the day before the show aired I had in fact walked from Broadstairs to Ramsgate and onto Cliffs End a couple of days before and I had walked from Broadstairs to Margate just the day before 🙂 http://theoutdoorguide.co.uk/britains-favourite-walks/ramsgate-to-margate-kent/

My first question is how did I miss them filming this? And why didn’t they just ask me? LOL I could have told them all about this walk…one of my favourites!!

I frequently use both those routes for my Camino practice walks, they’re manageable distances and the scenery is absolutely stunning; it never gets boring.

Starting off from Broadstairs Harbour, I either turn right and walk to Ramsgate and Cliffsend or left and walk to Margate.

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a winter’s sunrise – Viking Bay, Isle of Thanet

On a good day and if the tide is out, there is nothing better than striding along the beach from Viking Bay, past Louisa Bay, Dumpton Gap and onto Ramgate Royal Harbour. If the tide is in then I walk along the concrete promenade from Viking Bay to Dumpton Gap, then up to the cliff tops and walk through King George VI Memorial Park then down the steps leading to the promenade, past the Ramsgate Tunnels and onto Ramsgate Harbour.

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Dumpton Gap – clifftop walk when the tide is in

Sometimes I walk further onto Cliffsend where you can see the Hugin Viking Ship and from there it’s a short walk down to Pegwell Bay.

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Ramsgate to Cliffsend and Pegwell Bay

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The Hugin Viking Ship, Cliffsend

If I’m planning a walk to Cliffsend and Pegwell Bay, then I usually stop off at Rileys in Ramsgate first for a hot chocolate with lashings of cream and marshmallows for sustenance.

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Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows at Riley’s

If I decide to walk to Margate there are two options:

a) if the tide is out, from Viking Bay I walk along the beach to the far end of Stone Bay, up the steps to Stone Road, turn right and walk along the North Foreland Road to North Foreland Lighthouse, past the fields of crops to Joss Bay where I again descend to the beach and round the cliffs to Kingsgate Bay (you can walk along the beach but this particular area is very rocky and I don’t enjoy walking across this section). On the top of the cliffs at Kingsgate Bay is the Captain Digby Pub where I always stop for a pot of tea on the terrace. From there I head back down to the beach and walk through or around the Kingsbay Sea Arch and past the Stacks to Botany Bay, Palm Bay, Walpole Bay, and so to Margate Bay. Always be aware of the tidal times….the tides come in very fast along these stretches.

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Broadstairs to Margate

b) if the tide is in I walk along the promenade from Viking Bay to Stone Bay, up the steps to the cliff tops turn right and walk along the North Foreland Road to North Foreland Lighthouse, past the fields of crops to Joss Bay and instead of descending to the beach I follow the pedestrian path next to the golf course, then cross over the road where it ends and follow the road past the Kingsgate Castle complex and along the cliff top to the Captain Digby Pub, then follow the path across the cliff top alongside the golf course, past the folly ‘Fort Kings Bay’ to Botany Bay, and staying on the cliff tops I follow the pedestrian path past Botany Bay, Palm Bay, Walpole Bay, and so to Margate Bay. The views are fantastic and on a clear day up until Joss Bay you can right across the English Channel to Belgium, and once you round the corner and head north you can see across estuary of the River Thames to Essex. Once your’e in Margate you can see as far as Reculver, and if you time it right, you can see some of the most magnificent sunsets.

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Sunset at Margate

If you happen to walk along the beach as you near Margate, there is the Antony Gormley sculpture ‘Another Time’ which is located on the chalk bed of the shoreline in front of the Turner Contemporary. The sculpture invites the observer to “reflect upon the fundamental experience of being human, of inhabiting a human body… To bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time”

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the Antony Gormley sculpture ‘Another Time’ which is located on the chalk bed of the shoreline in front of the Turner Contemporary. The sculpture invites the observer to “reflect upon the fundamental experience of being human, of inhabiting a human body… To bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time”

Those are two of my favourite walks on the Isle of Thanet.

I’ve also walked to Sandwich during my Camino 2017 training

my camino; the journey so far

28.06.2016 Broadstairs to Sandwich

and completed the Way of St Augustine in July 2017

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

I travel quite comprehensively around the UK and make the most of my travels to walk in new areas…..follow me on instagram for images from around the UK.

For more about Britain’s favourite walks http://theoutdoorguide.co.uk/britains-favourite-walks/ramsgate-to-margate-kent/

and as they say on their website: Remember to prepare properly before heading out on any type of walk or outdoor activity. Tell people where you are going and what time you are expected back. As Wainwright says “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”.

 

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As mentioned in an earlier post I’ve been planning my summer pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury, prior to flying to Spain for the Camino Inglés. One of the best aspects of planning a pilgrimage is the research. I’ve uncovered so many wonderful places to see and visit; castles, Roman villas, ancient churches, Domesday villages. I’ll be walking along two ancient routes; St Swithun’s Way and the North Downs Way that combine to make The Pilgrim’s Way.

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I’m sure to see a few of these along the Pilgrim’s Way

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The chalk landscape along the Pilgrim’s Way in Surrey – North Downs

The Pilgrim’s Way, an ancient trackway, is an historical route followed by medieval and modern pilgrims from Winchester in Hampshire to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent.

From medieval cathedral to medieval cathedral, winding its way through the English counties of Hampshire, Surrey and Kent, the track takes the pilgrim along both Roman and modern roads, through ancient towns and cities, taking in historical castles and ancient churches, Roman villas, past numerous ‘tumulus’, through fields and forests, over chalk hills that offer picturesque vistas of the English countryside, alongside and over flowing rivers.

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along the Pilgrim’s Way

With an archaeological age of between 600-450 BC dated by finds along the route, the course has been dictated by natural geological contours and causeways, and is now a culmination of various routes followed over the aeons from as far back as the Stone Age. Although I doubt the stone age dudes were on a pilgrimage!

The names of the towns, villages and cities roll off the tongue like a lesson in history; Winchester, Abbots Worthy, Martyr Worthy, Itchen Abbas, Bishops Sutton, Four Marks, Holybourne, Upper Froyle, Lower Froyle, Farnham, Seale, Puttenham, Guildford, Shere, Oxted, Limpsfield, Otford, Kemsing, Trottisford, Detling, Thurnham, Lenham, Boughton Lees, Old Wives Lees, Chilham and then hoorah…Canterbury.

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Limpsfield – Domesday Book village

The chalk landscape along the Pilgrim's Way in Surrey - North Downs

Tatsfield – Domesday Book village

Along the way I’ll pass places like Avington Park, Jane Austen’s house, Farnham Castle, Guildford Castle, the Silent Pool, Kit’s Coty House, the White Horse Stones and the Black Prince’s Well before reaching the historical walled city of Canterbury and thus to my ultimate destination; Canterbury Cathedral.

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The Silent Pool

It’s been really tricky trying to work out the most conducive distance between towns. I really don’t want to walk more than 20kms a day. Besides the distances, I have to consider whether or not I’ll find suitable accommodation. I’m seriously considering taking my sleeping bag along just in case there are some days I am without something suitable….I can always sleep on a church porch! Although there are a lot of venues listed on the Pilgrim’s Way UK website, many of them are in the region of £100+p.n. which frankly is ludicrous and I’m certainly not prepared to pay that much. Unlike the European Camino routes that have hostels or albergues in virtually every hamlet, village or town, the accommodation along the Pilgrim’s Way is sketchy to say the least. I’m sure there are loads of places to stay, but as mentioned earlier, the prices are exorbitant.

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I’ve ordered the guide book; ‘The Pilgrim’s Way To Canterbury from Winchester and London’ by Leigh Hatts, recommended on their site. I’m hoping it will be at home waiting for me when I return this weekend 🙂 Can’t wait to start digging into it. (*update! It’s arrived!! Happy dance.)

I’ve spent hours on their site reviewing the map, calculating distances, checking ‘places to see along the way’, reviewing the churches…I’m only looking at the churches that actually provide a pilgrim’s passport stamp. If I have time and happen across any others that look interesting, of course I’ll pop in, but I won’t be going out of my way.

 

When reviewing the map on their website I noticed I’ll be walking sections of the Pilgrim’s Way that I’ve walked in the past, so it will be quite exciting to walk those again.

I’m trying to decide what I should pack in Pepe (my rucksack). I’ll be leaving for Spain 2 days after I reach Canterbury, so won’t have much time to repack….I’m going to keep it as light as possible and of course I won’t be taking my flip flops LOL According to the weather website, the best months to travel in England are May, June, September and October. These months generally have the most pleasant temperatures and less rain. July and August are the warmest months, but are also the wettest…. which is not what I want to read!!!! Does this mean I’ll need my rain poncho? I hope my shoes can handle the mud LOL

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my walking poles will definitely be helping me along the Pilgrim’s Way

Thankfully I don’t have to buy the rucksack, shoes, walking poles and all the paraphernalia that I had to buy in 2016/17 for my Portuguese Camino. So hopefully it will be a lot less costly than that trip. However, I’ve been investigating the prices and boy, it’s not cheap to fly to Spain anymore. No surprise there I guess.

There’s quite a lot to be considered when planning these walks. I’m not one of those people that can just sling on a rucksack, head out and start walking….I like to plan things. If I decide to do something impulsive along the way, then that’s fine. But I like to know where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. So atm I’m researching, listing, checking venues, and deciding on dates et al.  Anyway, I just enjoy creating spreadsheets, and to the truth of that, my daughter would testify. LOL

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The Pilgrim’s Way Lenham – Domesday Book village

Onwards…….along The Pilgrim’s Way

 

 

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After months of reading up on other people’s facebook posts, reading blogs and posts on Camino forums, I finally narrowed down my Camino packing list.

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My Camino 2017 packing; I’ve made relevant adjustments for walking in the UK

Items that I removed from the final pack before leaving: top left image; gloves, sandals, and I changed my walking socks after testing the marvellous socks I found at Mountain Warehouse; double thick…

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some of the many articles I researched and a bit of a laugh

Admittedly I had bought a whole load of items while I was in South Africa in May 2016, but I realised over time that most of it wouldn’t really be needed/suitable for a Camino in September. I will however make good use of them when I start walking in the UK….we all know how changeable the weather can be here so no doubt the double fleece jacket, woollen beanie and thick woollen gloves will come in handy for those trips. So for now they shall remain at home.

One of the items I bought which will come in handy is the Glowstick which is of course packed.

So at the final Countdown to my Camino, this is what I packed:

Osprey Mystic Magenta Tempest Talon 40 – my erstwhile backpack 1.08 kgs

Osprey Water Bladder 1.5liter                                                            0.700 grams

Sandals (walking sandals swopped for flip flops)                               0.120 grams

Fleece – lilac                                                                                      0.500 grams

Jumper – lilac                                                                                     0.220 grams

Hiking pants x 2 pairs – black (packed)                                              0.620 grams

Hiking pants 1 pair – black (to be worn)                                             0.310 grams

Quick drying T-shirts x 3 – magenta (packed)                                    0.360 grams

Quick Drying T-shirt to be worn                                                          0.120 grams

Panties x 7 (black) & pantie liners x 20                                              0.100 grams

Hiking socks – double thick x 5 (black)                                               0.250 grams

Hiking socks – double thick – worn                                                      0.050 grams

Wick away inner sock liners x 2                                                          0.050 grams

Bras x 2 (one on & one packed)                                                         0.050 grams

Night t-shirt (slogan: everything hurts – gift from my daughter)          0.210 grams

Towel – magenta (quick drying) & face cloth                                      0.230 grams

Rain poncho (now ditched in favour of a lightweight poncho – 20g)   0.395 grams

Extras:

LED Light (glowstick)                                                                          0.020 grams

Pale blue scarf with silver scallop shell pattern (gift from daughter)   0.040 grams

Pilgrim’s Scallop Shell                                                                         0.020 grams

Pilgrim’s Passports                                                                              0.030 grams

Orange Emergency Sheet                                                                   0.230 grams

Silver Emergency Foil Blanket                                                            0.010 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 1)                                                         0.180 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 2)                                                         0.310 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 3)                                                         0.110 grams

Phone charger and cord                                                                     0.050 grams

Emergency travel charger for my phone                                            0.220 grams

Teabags (vital and essential for my morning cuppa)                          0.030 grams

Toiletries                                                                                             0.800 grams

(shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, face cream, hand wash, dish-washing liquid, toothpaste, detergent gel, toothbrush, dental floss, comb, nail clippers, emery board, small scissors, shower gloves, incognito spray (100 grams), citronella oil, Epsom salts, rehydration salts, immodium, various vitamins)

Below are images of what I’ve packed for my next Camino – new additions would be the pink travel case (not yet sure it’s going to be useful), small day pack for those days I send Pepe ahead (it’s a marvellous little bag and folds away into itself and weighs next to nothing). The bits and bobs have been dramatically reduced, I did find the little velcro straps to be incredibly useful as well as the elasticated straps with clips…good for hanging socks to dry.packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,

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packing for my impending UK walk – my fabulous new puffer jacket and my wonderful Pepe; Osprey Mystic Magenta, packed and ready to go

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the noodles came in handy one night after a very long day. I used the tea bags 3 times and the mug never LOL

Some stuff you just don’t need. 😉 It’s really tricky packing for a long distance walk, especially in a foreign country. I took way too much of medical supplies like plasters and stuff (they are in plentiful supply in all the large towns and some of the villages you pass along the way).

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clearly took far too much stuff LOL

Admittedly, despite advice to the contrary, I took a load of stuff I really didn’t need – most of it came home with me. LOL

I’ll be rechecking my list before I start along The Pilgrim’s Way and hopefully I can ditch some more items before I start…..

Buen Camino

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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fabulous views across the Welsh countryside looking west

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

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

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War Memorial Montgomery, Powys, Wales,

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

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

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

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

 

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