A Bit of a Diversion

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It was lovely revisiting Kitts Cotty and her associated sites but hot work getting there.

Before I discovered the ants

There was some long grass in the shade nearby so I decided to take an hour off and enjoy the view. It didn’t last long – there was an ants nest under my chosen spot and the little critters were soon in my clothing and biting. OUCH!

Kitts Cotty
The White Horse Stone

The GPX file for this part of the walk is rubbish. I can’t remember where I downloaded it from but I should have checked it better before leaving. Today I was throughly enjoying my wander over the marsh land east of Snodland until I realised the the GPX track continued straight over the river Medway.

The blue line is supposed to be the Pilgrims Way – leads to the river with no bridge. My diversion shown in red

This would not have been a problem if there had been a bridge. There was not.

No way to cross

So I had to make a several mile long diversion in very hot walking conditions.

Singing in the dark

Never mind. I’m tucked away in the corner of a harvested field and think I’ll sleep well after some 20 miles of walking.

Keep on Plodding

I slept well amongst the young trees last night with only a couple of disturbances from a local fox. But at 5am the chainsaws started – not very close but enough to wake me. I suppose the woodland management team were trying to avoid the predicted heat.

A misty morning

This wasn’t a problem though. I wanted an early start to avoid the heat as well. It was very misty and the fly of the tent was soaked so I carefully packed it in its own dry bag to keep the wet bits separate from my bedding and clothes.

Good to have a lot of waymarkers

It almost felt like rain, like walking in a cloud for an hour or so but then the sun burnt through and it became hot. This part of the walk is far less open than the South Downs and many of the tracks are shaded with trees. The biggest problem with The Pilgrims Way/North Downs Way is that it bypasses most of the villages and towns where one can find water, cafes, pubs, or shops. I’ve been spoilt by The Old Way trail with being able to nip into villages whenever I ran short of anything.

Greenery

Despite the heat I made quite good progress covering about 16.5 miles.
The GPS trail I have follows the Pilgrims Way as it was, not as it is now. I’ve managed to follow the older version most of the time which included an area near an estate but the ‘Estate Security’ Land Rover politely but firmly pointed out that the pilgrims’ route is now the North Downs Way and the older version (as on my GPS) is no longer a footpath. But I quite enjoyed wandering around the posh estate even if it was private.

The good ladies of Lenham Church

I deviated off the track to visit Lenham to top up supplies and was greeted in the church by the weekly gathering of women who were sewing items to send to refugees. They were very welcoming and made me a cup of tea, filled my water bottles, and let me use the normally locked toilets.

It’s been a while since I mentioned a yew tree

I’ve been having trouble with the rechargeable batteries in my GPS – they keep dropping their charge very quickly. I’ll fully charge them tonight and see how I get on tomorrow. If they’re no good I’ll have to replace them.

My new pal

I’m having some personal problems with chafing in areas best not mentioned. I’m hoping the E45 lotion I’ve applied will sort it out. (Too much information, Graham. K)

To take your mind off the previous paragraph

Moving on – today I met a pilgrim on the trail heading for Canterbury and then on to Rome. Now that’s a long, hot walk but I bet it’s fantastic. Bon Camino, my brother.

This is not the pilgrim who’s walking to Rome

I always try to pitch my tent out of sight of houses but tonight, after erecting my abode I noticed that there is a large Manor House across the field. Let’s hope they have poor eyesight or don’t look out their windows.

They have a lot of windows

A Hot Night – and No, not that kind of ‘hot’

I didn’t sleep well last night despite the comfy bed – I think it was the heat. But I did manage to do most of my washing, and one kind of heat in the shape of a heated towel rail was great! I loved the shower and the sensation of feeling clean. A rare feeling lately.

Think I’ll have a rest
Graffiti on a school table in Chilham church

I should have slept well after a meal out and a couple of glasses of wine but it was weird being in a bed. I think I’ll sleep well tonight in my little tent.

Spent time chilling in the White Horse in Chilham today

I’m pitched amongst some young chestnut trees around 12 miles out of Canterbury. It’s a lovely location although still very hot at 6:30 in the evening.

I prefer this spot

The heat wave is apparently going to continue – I need to be very careful over the next few days …

Can’t resist a Hop Song

Footprints


I wonder if any of the people who drew around their feet in Christchurch walked to Canterbury on a pilgrimage and did the same here? It’s entirely possible.

I don’t think they took any notice – see below
A mark to say ‘I’ve been here’
Handy

I think it’s a good place to put my hag stone.

Where do you think I’ll choose to place my stone?

And Now for the Journey Home …

I looked out of my hotel window early this morning and watched a peregrine falcon land on the cathedral parapets. I could even hear its young calling out for food. It took me straight back to the cliffs of Cornwall where I loved to sit and watch these wonderful birds.

Not a bad place for them to live

Christchurch Priory, where I started this journey, also has its very own peregrine family – a joy to watch.

I’ve had my credential stamped

In Europe the peregrine gave its name ‘perigrino’ to us pilgrims.
Seeing the magnificent bird returning to its nest reminded me that today is the day that I start the second part of my long walk and return to my nest. I miss Kerriann and Hugo and will be pleased to be heading back towards them.

Well, I made it to Canterbury!

All I have to do now is walk back…

My walking group knows I love an old derelict chapel so …

Last night I slept well but with half an eye open as I was on a large, private estate and possibly not quite as well hidden as usual.

Not quite so stealthy

Any how, it all worked out well and nobody spotted me. I was up and away nice and early, one, because of my location and two, because the forecast was for very hot weather later.

There was something special in the air at Patixbourne church. The sun was shining through the lovely rose window and projecting its colours onto the floor in spectacular fashion. On the floor beneath the display is a strange sigil with the moto ‘over fork over’. What on earth is that about?

Anyone know what this signal means?

I was impressed with all the mass dials on the door pillars along with hundreds of years of graffiti. This is a church that I will come back to – it had secrets.

Just A touch of graffiti
Some welcome shade

Luckily the walk to Fordwich was partly through the woods and that means shade.

Not me this time…

The Church Conservation Trust look after Fordwich church. We have been supporters of the CCT for a long time and their Champing (camping in churches) is an excellent idea. I am not a Christian but I love old churches and anything that keeps them ‘alive’ is great. They did/do some great online lectures as well – check them out on YouTube or Facebook.

Interesting angle on the pears 😏

Walking through the garden of England at this time of year has benefits by the way of wind fall pears and apples along with the occasional blackberry. I had a feast.

I’ve arrived

I arrived in Canterbury mid afternoon and the man on the cathedral door recognised me as a perigrino and gave me free entry. Thanks – that saved me £14.00!

My pitch for tonight

I’ve checked into a hotel next to the cathedral tonight so that I can catch up on washing, charging, cleaning, shopping and all the other boring things I need to do. Alas, no bathtub but I’m going to enjoy a hot shower.

The crypt – my favourite

On the stairs at my hotel this evening I heard a very distinct ‘clink’. The little hag stone I’ve been carrying from the start has worn a hole in my pocket. It clearly wants to stay in Canterbury. I’ll find a suitable place for it tomorrow…

Stats Update

I crossed into Kent today so counties Ive done so far are: Dorset, Sussex (East and West), Hampshire, Kent

Total mileage to date – approx 335 miles

Days walking – 22

Average daily distance – 15.2

Nights on camp sites – 2

Nights at other legal sites – 1

Nights in churches – 2

Nights wild camping – 17

Moments spent regretting the adventure – 0

A touch of shade

Today’s walk was relatively easy apart from the intense afternoon sun. I plodded slowly and took lots of breaks. Met very few people but enjoyed the Weald.

Crossing into Kent

It looks like it might get very (dangerously) hot again in the next day or two so I will have to be careful.

Day 21

Got a nice early start after a quiet night by the military canal.

Aquatic stroll

This morning I met a guy walking three Labradors, had a natter with him then met him again as I was about to struggle through a kissing gate.

Thanks for the water

‘I live here,’ he shouted, ‘do you need your water bottles filling up?’

Met some new friends along the way

We went through the gate in his fence and about 20 dogs went berserk – he and his wife run boarding kennels. He kindly filled my bottles while I made friends with about six of the dogs. (Don’t tell Hugo.) I declined an offer of food because they looked pretty busy with all those dogs.
What a kind couple. Thank you.

Saltwood Church – interesting writing on the gate

In The Old Way guide there is a mention of a church with great acoustics. I realised that St Rumwold’s must be the one they meant as it has a fabulous echo. I balanced my phone on a pew end, hit the record button, and started singing The Immigrant but got the words wrong. ‘Bollocks,’ I said and started again eventually managing to get through the whole song.

I cant see the man coming out of the cupboard (Kerriann here)

As I turned to leave the church a man appeared from a cupboard in the back of the church. He was clearly amused by my performance and my swearing. He said he would have stayed out of the way and let me carry on but he had to get ready for later – it was Sunday after all. He did find time to point out some apotropaic graffiti that I’d missed during an earlier perusal. I presume he was the vicar but Kerriann thinks he might have been a ghost as she can’t see him on the video.

A handsome devil in Saltwood Church

Just as I finished trudging up the steep, narrow, bramble-covered but beautiful track up to my next church at Lympne, the bells started to ring out. They’d obviously spotted me coming.

Oh, they shouldn’t have gone to the trouble 😉

I had a huge roast pub lunch and am blaming that for my lack of energy this evening. I stopped a little earlier than planned but still covered 17 miles which is ok isn’t it?

An old chicken on his perch

I’m no spring chicken you know!

ADENDUM: the man in the cupboard has been found – looks like G sent me the wrong video – here is a screenshot

Not a ghost after all