Pilgrimpace's Blog

pilgrims way report
May 14, 2012, 3:51 pm
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Roland and I met up at Oxted to continue the Pilgrims Way.  Last year we started in Winchester and got just under half way in 4 or 5 very enjoyable days.  Our plan was to walk to Canterbury in 17 or 18 mile stages and then to spend the rest of the week following the North Downs Way to the sea at Dover and Folkestone.

This post is a report on the walk – I’ll post something else with reflections on it as pilgrimage soon.

The weather meant our plans changed.  After two very dry years, it had been the wettest April on record and this carried on into May.  While not much drought fell on us as we walked, it rained hard at night and the ground was saturated.  There were several stages where liquid clay was deeper than walking boots and progress was under one mile an hour.  As on the Camino Ingles last October, I was extremely glad to have invested in a heavy pair of Meindl boots which meant my feet stayed dry.  I have a strong memory of one steep muddy hill where my feet were moving at great speed while I made precisely no progress up the hill.  Walking in these conditions with 20lb packs (we were camping) meant falling over a few times.  I contributed blood to the Pilgrims Way; Roland hurt his ankle badly.

We slowed down and accepted our plans would change.  We began by deciding we would be exhausted enough when we eventually reached Canterbury that the walk would end then.  However, Roland’s feet became very wet resulting in bad blisters and nails.  This combined with a bad fall meant he decided to call it a day at Charing.  I enjoyed the walk very much but returned home too. I have received enough to live out of for a while and I have the opportunity to finish off the last stage with Meenakshi in the summer.

I think we walked around 50 to 55 miles.  It was tough but good walking through beautiful scenery.  There is not a huge amount of infrastructure, particularly in terms of campsites, but there are reasonably frequent pubs and the trail descends into towns and villages when the chalk ridge is cut by rivers.  There is wonderful wildlife.  It is the time for spring wild flowers; we heard owls, foxes and wild boar.  It was quiet.  We passed a few day walkers and were passed by one or two people walking distance but with much lighter, non-camping packs.

We mainly camped at night.  A lack of people around to ask meant wild camping a couple of times – although going to bed and getting up with the light at this time of year meant we were ready for bed by mid afternoon!  We camped one night at the excellent Vigo Inn (named by a landlord who bought it with his prize from the Battle of Vigo) and a need to get dry meant walking into Chatham to stay at Medway Youth Hostel for a night.

medway youth hostel

After drying out and getting some sleep, I’m really anticipating finishing off the pilgrimage to Canterbury.  But there’s the important task first of mining the experience.

3 Comments so far
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Now, here’s a camino! Deep mud and a tent in your pack. Bravo! Compared with that my recent trek was but a stroll. Well, kind of.

Comment by The Solitary Walker

Thanks Robert – for me at least it was really enjoyable. Looking forward to reading about your Camino,


Comment by pilgrimpace

[…] Winchester to Canterbury over a couple of years (you can see some of the reports of this here and here and in the posts next to these).  We had planned to finish last year.  Appallingly wet weather […]

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