214 km / 133 miles
Hants, Kent, Surrey
The Pilgrims Way is an ancient track between Winchester and Canterbury. It is an historic pilgrimage route to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, home of the shrine of the martyred archbishop, St Thomas Becket. It follows a major chalk ridge through scenic countryside, taking in characterful towns and villages and historic churches. Though not itself a single promoted long distance path, it is approximated by two promoted routes, the St Swithun's and North Downs Ways (links below for these routes).
From Winchester the St Swithun's Way seeks to trace the pilgrim routes to Farnham in what is now a busy transport corridor.
From Farnham the Pilgrims Way is mainly coincident with much of the North Downs Way National Trail. The North Downs Way follows the crest of the southern escarpment of the North Downs or footpaths and tracks along their lower slopes while the Pilgrims Way often keeps to the spingline. There are views over the Weald to the South Downs and several steepish ascents where the ridge is cut by valleys, notably those of the Mole at Box Hill, the Darent at Otford, the Medway at Rochester, and the Stour near Wye.
These routes mostly provides fairly easy walking through woods, over chalk grassland, minor roads and, especially in Kent, through orchards and farmland.
The Cicerone book below by Leigh Hatts describes both a route from Winchester in Hampshire (136Ĺ miles) and from London's Southwark Cathedral (90ľ miles), with an optional spur to Rochester Cathedral. With relatively easy walking on ancient byways, the route from Winchester is presented in 15 stages. The route from Southwark is described in 10 stages and includes a visit to the ruined Lesnes Abbey.
The route's naming varies in using an apostrophe (or none) - as Pilgrims' or Pilgrim's or Pilgrims. The latter form is used here for consistency with road names of which there are many. The Aurum (Colin Saunders) book below covers (on page 24) the history and origins of this route and its extension into Europe, the Via Francigena to Rome, and the North Downs Way signposts from Canterbury to Dover include the logo of the Via Franigena. a pilgrim.
Strider News - August 2017 (Publication Update)
The Pilgrims Way has a new guide by Leigh Hatts from Cicerone Press listed below.
Publications, Badges and Certificates:
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