My sabbatical will begin with some downtime at home, clearing the desk, tidying the study, hanging out with family, and then a week in I begin the pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury that is reminiscent at least of the old Pilgrims Way Chaucer wrote of.
The modern path is high and lofty for the most part following the North Downs Way through some of my old Surrey stomping grounds, and then on into Kent.
A few people have asked if they can join in with a leg of the journey. I am intending to do the route at a relatively fast pace in order to get back to family so many of the days will be around 20 miles including various climbs and descents. I am not making this a sponsored walk / or a sporting challenge though, and so I have some contingency days at the end in case I need to slow/have a rest day.
The real purpose of the walk is pilgrammage – slowing down to be with God. The phone will be off, except for updating this blog, calls home and audio – I want to listen to the Message ReMix (a contemporary Bible audiobook) and some worship. The MacBook will be shelved, and eleven years of ordained ministry in four jobs, seven years of parenting three wonderful kids, sixteen wonderful years with Nicola all will be gently processed amidst the rhythm of left foot, right foot, left…
So the tentative itinerary:
Thursday 14 May: leave Chiswick after school run:
Start walking from Winchester train station c.11:20am – get to Alton for night – speed/navigation/weather permitting.
Friday 15 May
Alton to Farnham [end of St Swithuns Way and 34 miles from the start at Winchester]
NB: if it’s going well I’m likely to do a bit more this day to reduce the total length of the long Saturday march below as I think I can get dropped onto the route again near wherever I happen to finish. If I did this I’d aim to get to Puttenham – where there is some accommodation in the Puttenham Camping Barn very close to the route.
Saturday 16 May
Farnham (or Puttenham) to Dorking – stay at Tanners Hatch YHA
The route from Farnham passes through Guildford after the first 11 miles, before continuing for a further 13 miles on a more strenuous route up St Martha’s Hill and onto the ridge of the North Downs Way.
[a day tripper might want to join in at Farnham or at Guildford (see proviso above]. A train could be caught back from Dorking at the end of the day. Tanners Hatch YHA is very close to the route.
Sunday 17 May
Tanners Hatch YHA to The Harrow Pub – Caterham – one of the nicest/toughest days of the walk: Includes Box Hill at the start. [Trains can be got home from Caterham Station].
Day trippers could join in from the summit of Box Hill or from the base at the River Mole/Stepping Stones carpark. Train station is for base of Box Hill is Westhumble.
Staying with family.
Monday 18 May
Caterham to Ortford / Ortford Manor (tbc) – train stations at Caterham and Ortford.
Will have walked 87 miles by this point.
Ortford Manor is the centre of Oak Hill holidays – will check for room availability for pilgrims !
Tuesday 19 May
Ortford to Rochester – 16 miles
Wednesday 20 May
Rochester to Hollingbourne/ Lenham – 16 / 20 miles
Thursday 21 May
Lenham to Canterbury via Boughton Lees – 21 miles.
Friday & Saturday 22/23May
2 contingency days…