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The Pilgrims Path In England - Rochester to Canterbury

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The North Downs have acted as a highway since before Neolithic times, but became busier following the murder of Archbishop Becket in 1170. By the eighteenth century the term 'Pilgrims Path' referred to ancient trackways in the south of England used by pilgrims journeying to Becket's shrine. Although these routes radiated from Canterbury they did not include the path taken by Chaucers' pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales but were prehistoric tracks used by pilgrims travelling to or from the continent via Dover along the Via Francigena. The principal pilgrim route ran between Winchester and Canterbury, much of which is now busy with traffic and therefore is no longer a viable walking route. Nonetheless, our route, a section of the North Downs Way, does coincide with some of the places that Chaucer's pilgrims visited and parts of the Pilgrims Path marked on maps. Overall, this is a walk through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with beautiful views below you across the 'Garden of England'; as well as a historic route leading to England’s most eminent Cathedral City.

The Pilgrims Path Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive and overnight in Chatham/Rochester

Overnight in Rochester or nearby Chatham with its historic dockyard. The following morning you begin your walk from Rochester. This historic town has a magnificent cathedral (the second oldest in England) and a well-preserved Norman castle, as well as many associations with Charles Dickens. Undoubtedly, Chaucer's pilgrims would have come through Rochester, close to which the North Downs Way passes today.

Day 2: Rochester to Thurnham

Cross Wouldham Common, pass Kit’s Coty Neolithic burial chamber and the White Horse standing stone along paths and fields to Boxley Church. East of Kits Coty, a long stretch with distant views delivers the North Downs Way to Detling Hill, beyond which a sudden return to open country shows the vast expanse of the eastern Weald spread below. The trail tucks round the outline of Thurnham Castle, from where you leave the trail for the short walk to The Black Horse in Thurnham.  Approx. 12 miles/19 kms.

Day 3: Thurnham to Harrietsham or Charing (8 or 10 miles)

Re-join the route at Thurnham Castle and walk on to Hollingbourne, from where you follow a gentle path for many miles to Harrietsham where you overnight (8 miles / 13km) or the lovely medieval village of Charing  Approx. 10 miles

Day 4: Harrietsham / Charing to Chilham (12 or 10 miles)

Day 4 of the Pilgrims Path continues to Boughton Lees and then enters Kings Wood, where pilgrims traditionally gathered together in medieval times to try and avoid robbers. Glimpses of Canterbury Cathedral can be had in breaks in the trees.  Our final night before Canterbury is spent in the lovely small village of Chilham. . Approx.10 or 12 miles

Day 5: Chilham to Canterbury 7.2 miles

Set off on your final walk to Canterbury after breakfast and hope to arrive in the city by lunchtime. There is time to spend in this beautiful city along with a visit to Canterbury Cathedral. Overnight Canterbury Cathedral Lodge or similar. Approx. 7 miles

Day 6: Departure after Breakfast

Our tour finishes after breakfast.  It is possible to extend your holiday by booking additional nights which we will book if requested.

Price:

£495.00 per person based on two sharing one room

Single supplement on request

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Historic cathedrals of Canterbury and Rochester

  • Rochester Castle

  • Beautiful varied countryside of the ‘Garden of England.’

  • Medieval cities of Canterbury and Rochester and beautiful small medieval villages

  • Historic Chatham Docks

Practical Information:

ACCOMMODATION:

Accommodation in Bed and Breakfasts and country inns, all rooms with private bathrooms.

Sometimes it may be necessary to book a bed and breakfast with shared bathrooms, but we would liaise with you to explain why and give you other options (i.e an upgrade to a better hotel) if no other accommodation was available.

WHAT TO TAKE

Sturdy walking boots and walking socks (with a change of socks in rucksack), rucksack/day pack, 1 x water bottle with 1 litre capacity, insect repellent, sun glasses, sun hat, sun block/cream, compass, torch, first-aid kit

WHEN TO GO

April to October. Accommodation will be difficult to obtain on UK national holidays unless booked well in advance (and may require an alteration to the programme).

GETTING THERE:

London Airports are the most convenient for reaching the start point of Rochester.

Direct trains run from London Victoria and London Bridge to Rochester train station and take approx 45 mins. Trains also run to Rochester from other locations.

From Canterbury trains can be taken for onwards travel to London approx 1 hr or to other destinations

INCLUDED:

5 nights accommodation, luggage transportation on walking days, transfers as needed for the walk, route notes and maps. UPGRADES TO HOTELS POSSIBLE IN SOME INSTANCES. THIS SECTION MAY ALSO BE WALKED OVER 4 DAYS – please ask.

EXTRA NIGHTS:

Extra nights possible along the Pilgrims Path – please ask. If you wish to do the full NORTH DOWNS WAY from Farnham to Canterbury, please contact us. Similarly, we also offer the CANTERBURY LOOP (Canterbury to Sheperdswell 10.4 miles, Sheperdswell to Dover 8.3 miles, Dover to Etching Hill 13 miles, Etching Hill to Boughton Lees 11.5 miles, Boughton Lees to Canterbury 13.1 miles) View Larger Map

NOT INCLUDED:

Lunches, dinners, drinks, insurance, anything not mentioned in programme.

INSURANCE

We recommend that you take out appropriate holiday insurance covering you against illness, injury, and loss or damage to luggage. This insurance should also cover the possibility of your having to cancel your holiday for whatever reason.