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This book details the Pilgrims' Way, an historic pilgrimage route to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, home of the shrine of the martyred archbishop, St Thomas Becket. The route is described both from Winchester in Hampshire (136½ miles) and London's Southwark Cathedral (90¼ miles), with an optional spur to Rochester Cathedral.
With relatively easy walking on ancient byways, the route from Winchester is presented in 15 stages of 4¾-13½ miles: it can be comfortably completed in under a fortnight. It follows a major chalk ridge through scenic countryside, taking in characterful towns and villages and historic churches. The route from Southwark is described in 10 stages and includes a visit to the ruined Lesnes Abbey.
Detailed route description is accompanied by 1:50,000 OS mapping, advice on making the most of a trip and information on the historical background to the pilgrimage, key historical figures and local points of interest. Accommodation listings and details of facilities and transport links can be found in the appendices.
Pilgrimages to Becket's shrine began within a few years of the saint's death in 1170, although Canterbury was a popular destination even before this time due to the nearby shrine of St Augustine. The route has featured in literature, drama and film, and forms the setting for Geoffrey Chaucer's famous Middle English work, The Canterbury Tales. Contents
History of the Way
Historical figures along the Way
Variations to the Way
Walking the Way
When to walk
Where to stay
Using this guide
Winchester to Canterbury
Stage 1 Winchester to Alresford
Stage 2 Alresford to Alton
Stage 3 Alton to Farnham
Stage 4 Farnham to Guildford
Stage 5 Guildford to Box Hill
Stage 6 Box Hill to Merstham
Stage 7 Merstham to Oxted
Stage 8 Oxted to Otford
Stage 9 Otford to Wrotham
Stage 10 Wrotham to Halling
Stage 11 Halling to Aylesford
Stage 11a Peters Village to Rochester
Stage 12 Aylesford to Harrietsham
Stage 13 Harrietsham to Boughton Lees
Stage 14 Boughton Lees to Chilham
Stage 15 Chilham to Canterbury
Stage 1a Southwark to Shooters Hill
Stage 2a Shooters Hill to Dartford
Stage 3a Dartford to Otford
Appendix A Itinerary planner
Appendix B Accommodation
Appendix C Further information
Appendix D Further reading
Leigh Hatts has lived in both Hampshire and Southwark where the two historic Canterbury routes begin. He first became familiar with sections of the ancient Pilgrims' Way in the Home Counties, and the Darenth Valley on the London route, whilst responsible for the London Transport Country Walks book series. His Thames Walk Feasibility Study led to the 180-mile Thames Path national trail. He is author of London's 100 Best Churches and Cicerone's Thames Path and Lea Valley Walk guides. He worked as a reporter with the walkers magazine The Great Outdoors and as arts correspondent of the Catholic Herald.
"It's a 136-mile route packed with interest and history, and Leigh Hatts, creator of the Thames Path, is an entertaining and knowledgeable guide."
– Outdoor Focus, Summer 2017
"An excellent guide to this English Camino"
– The Catholic Herald
"Another great Cicerone publication, in their tradition of producing attractive and accurate walking guides [...]
Pocket size – but the contents are certainly not pocket size. Inside, on glossy paper, we find a huge amount of information backed by excellent colour photos. There are clear directions [and] the practical things [...] are all clearly and succinctly presented.
Hatts includes the historical, spiritual and literary background, which makes this book much more than just a guide to walking a footpath. In his introduction and inserted into the walk at strategic points, is fascinating and relevant information about saints, historical figures, churches, writers and artists – enriching the walk both at the planning stage and as it is undertaken. this amount of material makes it also very readable for anyone doing some armchair travelling.
This must be the definitive guide to the Pilgrim's Way [...] a pleasure to browse, dip into, use for a local walk, or study before or during the walk – highly recommended."
Helen Willson, the Confraternity of Saint James
"Clear descriptions and maps for people seeking to make the pilgrimage in the 21st Century"
– The Great Outdoors
"It's a bonus for two routes to be included so you can choose the most relevant one for you. All vital info is included, such as advice on when to walk [the Pilgrim's Way], where to stay and refreshment at each stage. It's the definitive guide for anyone wanting to walk the Pilgrim's Way."
– Outdoor Enthusiast
"This guidebook is first class, but the only problem with the Pilgrim's Way – as Leigh Hatts tells us – is that waymarking on the route is rare and often non-existent, and that's such a shame on a trail so rich in heritage. [This guidebook] has everything – an extremely thorough step-by-step route description with maps; distances from the various stops; detailed information on places to see en route and background on Becket; transport details and recommended pubs, hotels, guest houses and other accommodation."
– Graham Smith, the Long Distance Walkers' Association