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Posts Tagged ‘Way of St Augustine’

Day 2 of my Way of St Augustine walk dawned bright and cheerful; blue skies and fluffy white clouds 🙂 Yayyy. I had been so blessed with the weather on both my walks. Most of the days were lovely blue skies and fluffy white clouds and not too hot. Perfect for walking. I guess one can excuse the heat and rain if one had good weather otherwise 😉

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You are here….yayyy 🙂 Bright sunny day and I’m off for a walk

I slept so well that night at The Rising Sun Inn… the bed was so comfy I could quite easily just have stayed in bed the whole day. LOL But adventures awaited and breakfast would soon be on the table. I dressed, tidied the room, packed Pepe and set off. First stop: dining room. Nary a soul joined me…apparently I was the only guest that night. Besides the ghosts that is.

Breakfast was a splendid affair….’Full English’ please preceded by cereal, tons of fruit and a cup of tea. I had to eat well since it wasn’t likely I would eat again that day till Canterbury. Anyway I needed the energy.

And then it was time to go. Bill settled I got some last minute instructions from the landlady and at 08:35 I was on my way…first a bit of an explore of the hamlet then onto School lane and across the fields…..it’s along this lane, through the gate and directly across the fields, just head towards the church spire! Hmmmm. Nope.

After much backwards and forwards and walking through a farmers farm 😉 which was actually a bonus since they were picking raspberries and I got to taste some (delicious), I finally decided to ignore the direction to walk through the gate, checked map my walk and set off…once again creating my own ‘way’ and St Augustine will just have to deal with that! So there!!

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lovely open fields but nary a church spire in sight

I did finally spy the church spire and although it definitely wasn’t direct, I eventually found my way. The houses were so quaint and quintessentially English it was hard to bear it! As I passed close to the church I saw one house that I just loved. I remember thinking that it looked a bit sad and that if I lived there I’d be out in the garden enjoying the flowers and the roses. When I read the visitor’s book I noticed a heart-felt request to pray for the health of a lady, someone’s Mother….turns out she lived in that house, but a little notation above the original request mentioned that she had sadly died just the week before. It was so heartbreaking, and then I understood why the house looked sad.

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a beautiful house with an air of sadness. I love the roses and the red phone box. quintessential English houses

All Saint’s Church, West Stourmouth was just wonderful to visit. An absolute gem of a church, so much history within those walls. The first incumbent 1281!!! Just wow. Reading the memorials is truly eye-watering…some of the dates are just incredible. I spent some time there just absorbing the serenity and peace and then set off once again….I could not find the route. After walking back and forth I finally spotted two gentlemen chatting nearby and asked them…they showed me where to turn and I wasn’t mistaken, it really just wasn’t clear and there were no markers. Perhaps because I had come a different route straight from the inn instead of from Plucks Gutter, I probably came in at a different angle and therefore the map didn’t make sense.

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these little churches are absolute gems. a real treasure house of history

Walking through the Kent countryside was such a treat. I crossed channels of water and walked through fields of ‘something or other’…sorry no idea…I’m not an expert, but it was lovely anyway 😉

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channels of water and fields of crops

My next destination was Grove Ferry and the marina. A gentleman suggested I head towards the house with the boat on the roof? Okayyyy. It took me just over an hour of walking and I was there….blissful green grass and lots of lovely water. Pity I couldn’t have a swim!! I spotted a pub, The Grove Ferry Riverside Pub, and stopped off for tea and a piece of cake and the all important rest. Chatted to a family who were driving through. Nice.

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house with a boat on the roof! paths of green. Grove Ferry Marina and the pub. another gate

And then it was the long stretch through Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve in the Wickhambreaux Valley. I loved the many gates I passed through.

What a treat it was walking through the nature reserve. Over an hour of peace and quiet, just me and nature; miles of grasses, channels of water, birds, butterflies, bees, dragon flies and blue skies with fluffy white clouds; blissful.

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Stodmarsh Nature Reserve

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As I neared the exit I noticed a wooden bench with the word DAD sculpted on the back. I rested there for about 10 minutes and thought about my Dad who has also done a number of ‘Caminos’.

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DAD – nice

Shortly afterwards I found St Mary’s Church in the village of Stodmarsh. Another wonderful little church. To my surprise there was a story board featuring the Way of St Augustine 🙂 Magic. I’m on the right road! This hamlet too was just gorgeous; ancient buildings and so much history it’s hard to take it all in.

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a dainty little hamlet – Stodmarsh

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St Mary’s Church Stodmarsh

As I left the village I passed some amazing farms; wide open spaces with the river in the background. Such a beautiful day I could barely believe it. And so goodbye to Stodmarsh. This country is beautiful.

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Goodbye Stodmarsh

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I love a good tree

From here I set off through some pretty remote countryside, through forests of trees, some old, some newish, along lonely pathways, past lakes and occasionally I spied other walkers through the trees…usually disappearing before I reached them. It was weird, but interesting.

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The Way of St Augustine – I’m pretty sure these trees are not the same he saw!

My next destination was the Domesday Book village of Fordwich that I reached just before 3pm. Stunning place. As I entered the village I passed a house named ‘Monks rest’ – too divine!!!

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Fordwich; a Domesday Book Village on the Way of St Augustine

The church again was just amazing!!! I love these churches, they are so extraordinary. This church like the others, an absolute gem of a stop on my route, was open but again sadly, no pilgrims stamp. You can feel the aeons of history thick in the air; as early as 620AD with remnants of the Saxon building. And I just loved the donation box!! Stunning. I had never seen one like it before. I spent ages here and got to speak to quite a few people as they came in to visit. I signed the visitors book and was delighted to see that a couple from Shawnigan Lake, Canada were waking the Way of St Augustine on the same day as me 🙂

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Church of St Mary the Virgin Fordwich

16 fordwich church

Before I left Fordwich I crossed the river over the bridge and took some photos. Definitely going to have to visit here again..so much to see and so little time.

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

It was by then already 15:30 and if I still wanted to visit St Augustine’s Abbey and Conduit House, I had to get moving.

Things get a bit hazy from here onwards. I was already very tired. The previous two days of walking had worn me out. Thank goodness I had decided to do these 2 walks prior to my Camino in Europe. I have learned so much about distances, timing, and carrying the backpack. Invaluable lessons that allowed me to adjust my Porto to Santiago route considerably.

As a result of my tiredness and the map not matching what I was seeing, I very definitely went off-route!! I asked for directions but the people I spoke to hadn’t heard of St Augustine’s Way so I simply asked for directions to Canterbury…and ended up having to navigate a golf-course and finally ended up on the Roman Road into Canterbury rather than following the final stages of Augustine’s route. 😦 But on the plus side, I found a cafe for some much needed chocolate and a sugar-rush…a can of Coke. I seldom drink the stuff but these were desperate times and I really needed the energy.

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countryside and reading maps….LOL

And as a major bonus I managed to visit St Martin’s Church…even though it was closed by the time I eventually got there. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that I managed somehow to end up visiting this church. Although it was securely locked, I did get to walk around the grounds for a few minutes and rested there before my final push into Canterbury.

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St Martin’s Church Canterbury – oldest church in continuous use in the country

St Martin’s Church was the private chapel of Queen Bertha of Kent in the 6th century before Augustine arrived from Rome. Considered to be the oldest Church in the English speaking world still used for worship, and has been for over 1,400 years. It was here that Queen Bertha welcomed Augustine, who with his 40 companions, set up his mission when he arrived from Rome in 597 AD to convert the Saxons. Here they remained until King Ethelbert granted him the land for the abbey and the cathedral which, with St Martin’s, now form the Canterbury World Heritage Site.

And so to Canterbury Cathedral. Footsore and weary beyond belief I passed through the city walls at just on 17:00! Hoorah. I would be in time, only just, to get my Pilgrim’s Passport stamped at the Visitor’s Centre. Once again it was supremely fun at arrive at the gate to the cathedral as a Pilgrim; the folks on duty at the gate are marvellous and made a great fan-fare of my arrival 🙂 – Make way – we have a Pilgrim coming through. Hoorah!! By 17:15 my passport was stamped and I was having my photo taken in front of the cathedral. What a blessing. What a journey. I still can’t quite believe that I actually walked for 3 solid days. Wheww.

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Finally through the city walls and so to Canterbury Cathedral

The staff invited me to stay for the Choral Mass which I did. But first a bit of an explore. I visited the cloisters and the Chapter House where I photographed the stained glass window featuring Archbishop Chichele for my client. They had a fantastic exhibition about pilgrimage to Canterbury featuring the route from Winchester…next on my list me thinks 😉

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Canterbury Cathedral – journey’s end The Way of St Augustine

As I left a verger came along to lock up and I asked her to direct me to the tomb of St Augustine. She went one better and unlocked the area for me; usually closed to visitors so that I could take some photos and pay homage. I can’t describe how fantastic that was.

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The shrine of St Augustine at Canterbury Cathedral

After the choral service I went walkabout through the gardens and almost got myself locked into the grounds for the night LOL But fortunately I discovered to my relief that the entrance to the cloisters was still open. Not that I would have minded staying there overnight, but I had places to go and people to see….and work the next day!!! blergh.

It seemed such a let down to be heading back to work after such an amazing 3 days. But needs must; I have a Camino to save up for!

I did a quick tour of Canterbury to take some photos and then I was off to the station;

The River Stour in Canterbury - looking towards the East Bridge

The River Stour in Canterbury – looking towards the East Bridge

no time for a pancake treat this trip but I shall make up for it next visit! I reached Tonbridge (my accommodation for the night) at just after 9pm. Seriously ready for a shower and bed.

And so endeth my pilgrimages to Canterbury; the Roman town of Dvrovernvm.

In case you missed it: Day 1 The Way of St Augustine

Medieval pilgrimage: a pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place connected with the stories of the bible. People have made pilgrimages for centuries and thousands still do so today, but it was especially popular in the medieval period. Early churches were built over the tombs of saints. The bodies and relics of saints, famous miracle-working images and statues , and holy wells, all attracted pilgrims. Apart from major holy cities such as Rome and Jerusalem, there were many thousands of major and minor pilgrimages sites across Europe and hundreds in England.

Why is Canterbury so important?Canterbury is where St Augustine, who reconverted parts of southern England to Christianity founded his cathedral in 597 AD. The cathedral always attracted pilgrims as a special holy place, but it was only after the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170 that large numbers of pilgrims began to come to Canterbury. Canterbury has one of the largest collections of holy relics; bones, clothes and other items associated with saints in England. Most pilgrims only visited Canterbury once in their lives, so it was important to make it as memorable an experience as possible. Pilgrims, then as now, liked to take a souvenir of their journey, and Canterbury had many different badges that could be bought in the town, and which would identify the wearer as a pilgrim to Thomas Becket’s shrine. 

 

 

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St Augustine’s Way from Ramsgate to Canterbury.

The Way of St Augustine aka St Augustine’s Way – I first learned about this particular walk on one of my many Camino 2017 practice walks between Broadstairs and Cliffsend last year. Frankly I’d never heard of St Augustine before then but by all accounts he was quite an adventurous fella. I did some research and decided to do the walk.

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St Augustine

I’d made a list of walks I wanted to do in the UK so added this as it was quite short at 19 miles from Ramsgate to Canterbury and seemed eminently achievable.

As it turned out I actually walked 28 miles (?) and the hours are only my walking hours, not rest periods during the day. I was able to tag the walk on after my Southwark to Canterbury finale that ended on 29th July.

Day 1 : Walked 24.03 kms (15.02 miles) – 8 hours and 24 minutes
Day 2 : Walked 20.93 kms (13.08 miles) – 8 hours and 04 minutes

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Broadstairs to Ramsgate

 

The Way of St Augustine; my journey from Ramsgate to Canterbury started really from Broadstairs, at which time I walked from Viking Bay to St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate.  I’d had some really amazing help from Hunter and John of Friends of St Augustine, who prepared maps for me and answered my questions about the route and where to stay etc.

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The St Augustine Trail

I’d decided to attend the Sunday morning service at the shrine and so at 07:11 on July 30th I set off with Pepe; my fully loaded backpack, heading for Ramsgate. The service started at 08:30 and I figured I had loads of time since it usually took me just on 45 minutes to walk the distance…Hah!! I hadn’t factored in the weight of the backpack slowing me down and forgot that I still had to climb the hill on the opposite side of Ramsgate Harbour and walk to the shrine…as a result I slipped into the church with 2 minutes to spare and sweating profusely from rushing to get there on time.

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St Augustine’s Shrine in Ramsgate

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Shrine of St Augustine

After the service I took some photos (of course) and then joined the parishioners for tea and biscuits and a wee chat, and at 09:44, following the map that John had kindly printed for me I set off from The Shrine heading for the 2nd of what was to be many stops; St Augustine’s Cross.

I passed through familiar territory walking along the clifftops at Ramsgate and stopped for a swing in the park…how can I not? It’s my favourite 😉

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stopping for a swing 🙂

From there it’s a short walk to Pegwell Bay

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Pegwell Bay – I wonder how it looked in AD 597

and taking the clifftop walk I soon passed the Viking Ship and Cliffs End village signboard,

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Viking Ship at Cliffsend

then a right turn and within no time at all I found the cross….I can’t believe I didn’t know it was there!! Managed by English Heritage, it’s free to visit.

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St Augustine’s Cross

After taking some photos and getting my bearings on the map, I found myself walking along secluded lanes and farmlands. One field in particular was really amazing…sunflowers as far as the eye could see.

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sunflowers; a touch of sunshine on a cloudy day

I had got a wee bit lost just before this as the map didn’t show the massive arterial roadway that crossed over the railway and so I missed the turn under the bridge…but thankfully some fella was walking towards me so I didn’t go too far off course. He directed me back to the bridge and mentioned that he had done this many times before!! hmmm. I also missed the crossing of the railway line, but after finding myself in a cul-de-sac of trees, I again retraced my steps and hopped across quick as a flash…I loathe railway crossings.

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the railway crossing I missed…

I got to chat to a lovely elderly gentleman at this point and he was quite impressed at my endeavour. Actually most people looked at me like I was quite insane when I told them what I was doing. LOL Nonetheless I was on the right track and soon I could see the spire of St Mary’s in Minster. I found the abbey quite easily. Oh my word. What a delightful surprise.

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Minster Abbey

Quite different to what I was expecting, but just amazing. I summonsed one of the Nuns who live and work there, and she kindly stamped my Pilgrim’s Passport for me 🙂 Of course I took loads of photos and then visited St. Mary The Virgin Church.

St. Mary’s Church, founded in 670AD is known as the ‘Cathedral on the marshes’ and is the mother-church of western Thanet. Fantastic place with oodles of history. Sadly there was no stamp for my passport.

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St Mary’s – cathedral on the marshes

Quite hungry by then I stopped off at The Bell Inn for Sunday Roast 🙂 A hearty meal very much appreciated.

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The Bell Inn, Minster

The Bell Inn was built during the reign of Elizabeth I in the year 1576 and is apparently a pub with ghosts……The earliest recorded occupant of the property is one Thomas Calfe who is mentioned in a sale document of 1611. In 1715 the rector of the parish held the first tithe supper at The Bell and in 1718 with his help and persuasion a 7 day licence was granted on condition that no liquor be administered between the hours of divine service. The penalty for doing so was a day in the stocks, a heavy fine or in some cases a flogging. In 1864, The Bell was lit by gaslight for the first time.

After a rest (I took my shoes and socks off and revelled in the cool wet grass) and the delicious meal, I hoiked Pepe onto my back and made my way back to the abbey. While at the shrine in Ramsgate earlier I had noticed that there was a Gregorian chant event at the abbey in the afternoon, so I decided to pop in. Getting there a tad late (45 minutes) I slipped quietly through the door…LOL – I only entered right next to the speaker and with a huge backpack…quietly I was not!! However, it seems I had stumbled into what was a semi-private event and there was a fee to be paid?? eeee. Oh well… But the organiser chap kindly let me off since I had got there very late and wasn’t staying for the 6:30 event at the church…which was the chanting part of the event. Duhhhh. So I just stayed as long as it was polite to do so, had a cup of tea and a delicious slice of chocolate cake baked by the nuns, left a hefty donation in lieu of my entrance fee and at 5:30 I set off once again. Destination Plucks Gutter. Seriously? Plucks Gutter??  I thought I’d have a quick squizz at wikipedia and here is their description: “The hamlet is named after a Dutch Drainage Engineer called Ploeg, whose grave is in All Saints Church, West Stourmouth. Ploeg, being the Dutch for a plough, the hamlet takes its origins from the Dutch Protestant tradition of draining marshland by creating a ploughed ditch”. I’m really not sure how that converts to Plucks Gutter…but there it is!! Although just a hamlet it has an interesting history with links to King Alfred and the Vikings, smugglers and of course was part of what was then the Isle of Thanet on the Wantsum Channel (now built over).

Most of the Way of St Augustine walk was through farmland and along streams and what was once Saxon Shore, although I warrant that Augustine would find things very different to his time!

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channels of water and fields of crops

Whenever the going got tough, I reminded myself that they didn’t have it any easier…I think! The land has been pushed back so far since then that you can’t even see the shoreline from that point, so maybe they walked along the beach whilst I was dragging myself through a jungle LOL

Traipsing across farmlands and recently cut fields that left horrible spiky stalks that crunched underfoot I was in danger of being pierced at the ankles!!

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spiky stalks…horrible to walk in this

Barring my first misdirection, I had so far managed to follow the map quite easily with the help of some signs attached to either gate posts or barriers etc…but somewhere, in the middle of nowhere I lost the trail.

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signs…..here there and everywhere…and anywhere

The map indicated to head inland at one point which I did and followed a narrow channel (there were a LOT of channels and streams in this area; salt-marsh works and farmland as far as the eye could see) but the crops were so high and so thick that I simply could not find ‘The Way’. I tried walking along a particular pathway, but that was making me double back and there was no way to cross the channel which appeared to go on for miles…that I could see anyway. Eventually after walking back and forth a few times and carefully looking for the pathway, I gave up and walked back to the river. I could see from the map that it lead towards Plucks Gutter so figured I would walk along the riverbank till I reached the bridge. Hah!!Great plan….or so it seemed.

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sigh

Firstly the riverbank was exceptionally narrow and I walked (dragged myself) along long grass with just a few inches between me and the river. Mindful of the weight of the backpack, I was having nightmare visions of falling in and not being able to surface due to the weight of the pack…but thankfully I had my walking poles. They really came into their own at this point and saved me from many a stumble on uneven ground and a possible tumble into the river. Eventually my luck ran out and the grassy riverbank ran into thickets of weeds and nettles as tall as me!! I was confounded as to what I should do. It was getting later and the sun was setting. Fortunately said sun was ahead of me so pulling on my ‘big girl panties’ I plunged into the fields of corn! Never mind ‘Children of the Corn’ – I am ‘Woman of the Corn’ hahahaha

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Woman of the Corn…no snakes!!

The stalks were taller than me and for at least 30 minutes of plunging and shoving my way through, I could not see anything other than green corn stalks and a faint glimmer of the sun. Walking through these stalks was eerie and a tad unnerving. I was reminded of when I was about 7 or 8 following my grandfather through a small field of corn that he had grown on their property in South Africa. I was casually strolling along behind him when I looked up and right there before me, with head poised to strike was a thin green snake! Fuck! I can tell you that never have I been so terrified. I screamed, the snake snaked and my grandfather came up with a stick and whacked it into kingdom come…or gone! As the case may be. So yeah, walking through this particular field was rather unpleasant. Fortunately I didn’t see any snakes…but perhaps they saw me and scarpered. I was kinda hoping that like Ireland, this particular field didn’t have snakes!

After what seemed like forever, with all sorts of greenery tangled in my hair and poking through my clothes, I stumbled out of the field and voila the bridge was ahead of me 🙂 Hurrah!! Only problem was that I ended up in a boatyard of some sort so had to find my way through a maze and then do some serious climbing of fences and gates. Forget the signs that say ‘Keep Out’ …mate, I’m leaving, no worries.

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Plucks Gutter and the River Stour

I have also learned that I can climb a gate with a fully loaded backpack in situ!! Something I had to do quite frequently on this walk. LOL

Once I reached the bridge over the River Stour it was so much easier; tarmac! Yayyy. I was in Plucks Gutter…but thankfully not in a gutter. I stopped to read the history board outside the Dog and Duck Inn; fascinating stuff!! Then my feet hit the mac and I was off…only a few more minutes of walking to be done and I would be able to have a cuppa and put my feet up, but first I had to navigate this road. It was however quite scary since the road, if you can call it that, was narrow and had no sidewalk or place for pedestrians. Once again I sucked in my breath and set off….The Sun Inn according to the map at the pub was within a 25 minute walk.

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You are here….Plucks Gutter and Stourmouth

And what a treat Stourmouth proved to be, lots of lovely quaint houses greeted me…although frankly I was too tired right then to be more than a little impressed. Suddenly as I rounded a corner there it was….. The Rising Sun Inn – my accommodation for the night. And once again, exhausted and dusty, but not wet (thankfully), I stumbled across the portal and traipsed across the reception area. A lovely young lass showed me to my room, and brought me a much needed cup of tea. The landlady soon came by to say hello whereupon I ordered a platter of sandwiches and crisps – delicious. The room at the Inn was absolutely fantastic. A gorgeous big bed and an ensuite shower.

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The Rising Sun, Stourmouth

Within no time at all I had my shoes off, my very dirty hiking pants hanging up to air, and with my feet up on the comfy couch I settled in for a bit of telly. 🙂 Exploring would have to wait for the morrow…for now, I wasn’t going anywhere except into the shower and then bed!! It seemed perfectly apt for me to be staying at The Rising Sun since one of my ultimate favourite songs is ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (The Animals). I still have the 7-single 😉

A spot of history: “Originally a bakery owned and worked by the Monks of the Diocese of Canterbury, the first part of the building was erected in 1372 during the reign of Edward III. Continuing as a bakery and passing through a number of different owners, the building eventually came into the hands of Edgar Rake; baker and brewer in 1682!! Said gentleman applied for an ale and cider licence that was granted on April 4th, 1695. He carried out some building work in 1708 & 1709 but died before this more modern structure was completed. One Jeremiah Bedley; baker and beer seller took over the premises in 1709 and granted a licence to sell liquor and named the premises “The Rising Sun”….probably coz his patrons saw the sun rising after a heavy night!! LOL From 1709 onwards till 1865 all the Inn Keepers of The Rising Sun were bakers, working the old bakery and running the Inn, except for Thomas Lucke who in 1776 was described as a ‘beer seller, baker and ferryman’. The inn was for many years also known as the Ferryman’s Inn as the men who worked the ferries across the mile-wide estuary to the “Crown” (Cherry Brandy House) at Sarre, met here.”

I was hoping to see the rising of the sun on the Way of St Augustine walk and so to spend the night at a 14th century inn called The Rising Sun is superbly brilliant.

And so to bed…perchance to dream. I slept really well that night….the bed was amazing.

Day 2 The Way of St Augustine

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The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with One Step. Lao Tzu

Although I haven’t yet walked 1000 miles, and definitely not during these 3 days, by the time I started my Southwark to Canterbury pilgrimage I was very close to my target of walking 1000 miles in 2017; 661 miles : 1st January to 8th July  😃😃👣👣👣

Walk 1000 Miles

Walk 1000 Miles

Day 1: 09/07/2017 Southwark Cathedral to Gravesend – 15 miles

And as it turned out, my journey was not quite 15 miles…it was wayyy more!

Walked 34.09kms / 21.31 miles
Steps 47,636
Elevation: 90 meters

As per Prelude Day 2 I stayed at the YHA Thameside which is a favourite venue for when I stay in London. It’s close to the Thames and an easy walk into Southwark, plus it has fantastic views of the river and the city as you look upstream.

river thames view of london

You can’t argue with a view like that…wonder what Chaucer would make of it.

As with the first night I stayed there, the 2nd night was equally as noisy and I didn’t get settled till well after midnight with my alarm set for 04:30!!! Since it was so lat, said alarm was duly changed and I added an extra 45 minutes of sleep….then it was time to go and I set off for Southwark arriving at the cathedral at 3 minutes past 6am…a tad disappointed since I wanted to record the chimes, but hey ho…I did tarry to send a live facebook video and then set off.

Southwark Cathedral 06;03am 09/07/2017 and just before I set off on my epic walk #inthefootstepsofChaucer to Canterbury

Southwark Cathedral 06:03am 09/07/2017 and just before I set off on my epic walk #inthefootstepsofChaucer to Canterbury

I was expecting the streets to be quiet and still, but no, dozens of people spilled out onto the sidewalks from the nightclubs near London Bridge and a similar lot sprawled in the streets and on the pavements. To say I was surprised would be an understatement; the night-life in London is alive and well.

I followed the Thames Path starting at St Olave’s House and walked along The Queen’s Walkway to Tower Bridge. From there I continued along to St Saviour’s Dock footbridge, intending to cross the creek off Butler’s Wharf…but I was too early…it was still locked!

The view from Butler's Wharf looking back upstream of the Thames towards Tower Bridge and the City of London

The view from Butler’s Wharf looking back upstream of the Thames towards Tower Bridge and the City of London

That bloody awful walkie talkie building #20 Fenchurch, really ruins the view of Tower Bridge. St Saviour’s Dock was originally a tidal inlet notorious for pirates attacking ships docked in the area. The gate of the footbridge being locked (opens at 07:30am in case you wondered) entailed a massive detour and I finally got back onto the Thames Path near Bermondsey Beach. ‘Thames Path’ is a bit of a misnomer since you cannot walk alongside the river as the ‘path’ weaves under and around apartments built over and right on the banks of the river, which means you have to make a great number of detours around industrial sites and blocks of apartments, but never no mind, there’s a fair bit of river path further along.

I soon passed The Angel Pub and the remains of Edward III’s Manor House. It’s so intriguing to see these remnants, one of his smaller residences built in 1350, surely it must have been there when Chaucer and his pilgrims travelled to Canterbury in 1368. I wonder if Chaucer popped in for tea on his way?

King Edward III Manor House, Rotherhithe

King Edward III Manor House, Rotherhithe

Next up I passed The Mayflower Pub c 1620 (In July 1620, the Mayflower ship took on board 65 passengers from its London home-port of Rotherhithe on the River Thames.) 2 miles to London Bridge…which means I still had another 58 miles to Canterbury *waillll*

The Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe and London Bridge 2 Miles

The Mayflower Pub in Rotherhithe and London Bridge 2 Miles

As I walked past the YHA near Old Salt Quay once again, I was tempted to stop for breakfast, but decided to push on since I had only just started walking. 😉 Frankly I wishing I was back in bed!!

Making good time (still fresh at that stage LOL) I soon passed the Surrey Docks Farm London which was also still closed, so once again I had to make a detour, and made my way back to the river near Greenland Dock Old Lock with Canary Wharf in my sights across the river. And again I had to make a detour – there are so many sections of the Thames Path closed it’s a ruddy joke Urgh. I’m sure I added on at least another 2-3 miles just with all the detours. Chaucer obviously knew what he was doing by following Tooley Street instead of the ‘Thames Path’ hahaha.

By now I had walked just on 1 hour; Canary Wharf in my sights

By now I had walked just on 1 hour; Canary Wharf in my sights

I trundled along, getting used to having Pepe on my back, drinking often, stopping occasionally and munching dried apricots, enjoying the peace and quiet of the suburbs. Suddenly I could see Greenwich and the Cutty Sark on the horizon!! Hooray! It was now 08:39 and I hurried past St Peter the Great and hoorah!! to my great delight there is now a footbridge that crosses the Deptford Creek. When I did this walk in 2011 I had to make a detour at this stage. So much has changed here I could hardly believe it. There’s now a fantastic pathway all the way into Greenwich! Brilliant. Deptford Creek was listed as one of Chaucer’s stops….for lunch, dinner or to sleep?

Peter the Great Statue at Deptford Creek, looking back upstream just past Deptford Creek and the Cutty Sark in Greenwich

Peter the Great Statue at Deptford Creek, looking back upstream just past Deptford Creek and the Cutty Sark in Greenwich

By now I was hungry so made my way over to Costa Coffee for an almond croissant and a cup of much needed tea. It was here that I got my 3rd Pilgrim’s ‘stamp’ handwritten like most of those I got at restaurants and hotels…..the internet has seen the demise of the Company Stamp 😦

one of my favourite pasties; almond croissant, enjoyed with a pot of tea at my favourite 'coffee' cafe :)

one of my favourite pasties; almond croissant, enjoyed with a pot of tea at my favourite ‘coffee’ cafe 🙂

I love Greenwich and spent a short while looking around and then set off for Woolwich. Walking was more straightforward now with the path more or less following the river with few detours. I reached North Greenwich and the O2 at 11:02 and stopped there for lunch; 2 bananas, a tub of yoghurt and a large slab of chocolate….I needed the sugar okay!! Don’t judge LOL – North Greenwich is such an interesting area and I enjoyed walking along the path; tempted to take a ferry I asked about the next ship but it was too far off…so off I went; the old feet will have to suffice 😉

my lunch, O2 Millenium Dome North Greenwich and Quantum Cloud

my lunch, O2 Millenium Dome North Greenwich and Quantum Cloud

By 12:28 I could see the Thames Barrier! Hoorah. It was also very hot and humid by this stage and my feet were beginning to drag…but onwards.

The Thames Barrier is just awesome and I love visiting the area. I stopped to rest for a while and made myself comfortable on a bench looking upstream. I was already tired from the heat and feeling parched despite drinking copious amounts of water.

The amazing Thames Barrier; keeping London safe from flooding

The amazing Thames Barrier; keeping London safe from flooding

After resting for about 15 minutes I shrugged back into my harness and Pepe on my back set off again…..for about 3 minutes…as I reached the top of the stairs I saw The View Cafe and on impulse stopped for a much needed cup of tea…and a piece of cake 🙂 I was burning up energy like nobody’s business. Well that’s my reason anyway!

the view cafe thames barrier

The View Cafe, provided a welcome break after the break LOL

Just before 2pm I set off again…..Woolwich in my sights.  The Thames Path along this section really lives up to it’s name and I so enjoyed walking alongside the river. At 14:34 I arrived in Woolwich. By now I was serious about getting a ferry for the rest of the route to Dartford or Gravesend (ideally); I asked about their downstream routes – hah! there isn’t one! Why ever not? Anyway by now I was baking in the sun and simply had to rest…I had been walking for approximately 6.5 hours plus the 2 stops and with the unaccustomed weight of Pepe on my back I was shattered. I found a green spot on the grass under a tree and made myself comfortable; soon falling asleep. I woke with the sounds of ‘someone’ snoring hahaha – and with much moaning and groaning I managed to get up…gosh, my old bones. I had to ask a chap sitting nearby to help me get my backpack on as I simply didn’t have sufficient energy to lift it up and onto my back.

You are here....almost there; Royal Arsenal Woolwich and the Anthony Gormley sculptures, the The Royal Brass Foundry (1717) and Gun and Carriage

You are here….almost there; Royal Arsenal Woolwich and the Anthony Gormley sculptures, the The Royal Brass Foundry (1717) and Gun and Carriage

By 4pm I was on my way again. I had two goals at this stage 1) to find the WW2 bunker (found) and 2) Skegness Lighthouse…. (not found) – it was another 8 miles!!! By then I was to heck with that, I’ve had enough.  The sun was baking down, my water was running low and my energy had been sapped. By 16:20 I made the decision to find a bus. By now I had walked 28.74 kms and had reached Thamesmead which I thought was Erith..it wasn’t!! and I was beginning to feel like North South East West; home would be best! 🙂

The WW2 Pillbox on the Thames Path near Thamesmead, looking downstream, and NSEW

The WW2 Pillbox on the Thames Path near Thamesmead, looking downstream, and NSEW

After much ado; 2 bus rides and a short train journey I finally arrived in Gravesend. My plans to visit Dartford and the Queen Elizabeth Bridge scrapped for another time. Just the journey from Thamesmead where I took the first bus till I arrived at Gravesend station was 26.14 kms….there was no way I would have been able to walk all that way. I’m guessing google maps is not quite correct when it tells you the distances or the number of hours it will take to walk. Or maybe I should learn to walk without 10 million detours!!

Checking ‘map my walk’ I located the location of The Old Prince of Orange; I quite liked the sound of this ‘old’ inn that I found via Booking.com – originally a coaching inn on the route to Rochester that went via Old Road East and the Rochester Road. Although not quite from Chaucer’s time, the original building was built in the 17th century (1633). That building was demolished in 1933 and the present building erected.

The Old Prince of Orange, Gravesend....my Day 1 accommodation. Originally a 17th century Inn on the London to Rochester Road

The Old Prince of Orange, Gravesend….my Day 1 accommodation. Originally a 17th century Inn on the London to Rochester Road

After exhaustive searching, this was the ‘oldest’ inn I could find that offered accommodation, and so even though the current building is new, it’s located on the site of the original…and was be my abode for the first night of my Southwark to Canterbury journey; perhaps they may even have some left over ghosts – (I didn’t see or hear any, too tired hahaha).

Welcomed at the Old Prince by a lovely young man; Louis, I was shown to my room; not posh by any means, but comfortable and cozy and quiet. I had a separate bathroom with the tiniest shower ever!!! LOL. There was also a kettle and ingredients for tea! VIP!!

But before I lay my weary head to rest I’d planned to sup at The Three Daws in Gravesend. After a quick hot shower I set off for The Three Daws where I enjoyed a most delicious meal of scampi and chips with mushy peas and a pint.  The staff at The Three Daws were amazing and Josie really made my evening. She was kind enough to accommodate my constantly changing eta, and when I finally reached Gravesend she took my supper order over the phone and as I walked into the pub my meal was ready!! Impressive customer service.

The Three Daws, Gravesend - oldest pub in the town

The Three Daws, Gravesend – oldest pub in the town

Early records indicated a public house was located at this site as early as the 15th century. The Three Daws is now the oldest public house in the town and probably the oldest pub in Kent with its mixture of timber framing, weather-boarding and tiled roof. According to the blurb, this historic riverside inn dates back to the 1400’s, is steeped with tales of smugglers tunnels, press gangs and tales from the Napoleonic wars, with the obligatory hauntings. Perfect! Just a shame they don’t offer accommodation 😉 http://www.threedaws.co.uk/about-the-three-daws

Journey’s end for Day 1 of my Southwark to Canterbury pilgrimage offered a wonderful sunset to perfectly end off my first day of walking….and so to bed! Gravesend is also one of the Domesday Book ‘villages’ from 1085 and to to be able to spend the night there was awesome…..Project 101 continues apace 🙂

sunset at Gravesend on the River Thames

sunset at Gravesend on the River Thames

Join me on instagram @notjustagranny where I post images from my various adventures around the UK and Europe. Next up is the finale of my #SouthwarktoCanterbury pilgrimage #inthefootstepsofChaucer and a 2 day Way of St Augustine walk between Ramsgate and Canterbury 🙂 #WayofStAugustine – see you on instagram 🙂

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