I started my journey in Winchester, where I picked up a Pilgrim’s passport at the cathedral. I received free admission to the cathedral as a pilgrim.
Inside the cathedral, I was struck by the monument near the former shrine to Saint Swithun, which had a tapestry of a leaves birds and raindrops on one side and a beaming sun landscape on the other. I think this is a fitting start for the Pilgrims’ Way, which is a journey in all weathers through the beauty of nature.
I left the cathedral and set out through some town streets before coming across the ruins of Hyde Abbey. Like Abingdon Abbey there is still a gatehouse. I also passed by a pub called the King Alfred, where I could have got my first passport stamp, but I didn’t realise it at the time.
I continued on my way, following a path by a stream. I stopped to study my guidebook on a bench, and then I walked on and realised after a couple of minutes that I had lost both guidebook and passport. I hurried back to find it on the bench.
After that, I continued on the path and crossed under the A34 and the M3 motorway. Graffiti in the tunnel, showed lots of colourful eyes combined with colourful patterns.
The first church with a passport stamp I came to was St Mary’s Church in Kingsworthy. I made a mess of that stamp. But the church was a peaceful and welcoming place.
After leaving the church, I walked through fields that looked down on the River Itchin. The scenery was beautiful, and I was enjoying the peace and quiet.
I came to the next village, Martyr Worthy, and visited the church there. I met two other people at the church. I left my guidebook and passport again and on returning they suggested, I tie my guidebook around my neck so that I wouldn’t forget it again.
The path next took me through a field of cows. I was careful to avoid the young calves, as I didn’t want to upset the cows who I had to walk through.
The next place I came to was Itchen Abbas, where there was another church. I got my third stamp there. It had started to rain and I put on my coat under an ancient yew where the last person to be hung for stealing a horse is buried.
After leaving the church, I followed a path that crossed the River Itchin and went by Avington Park, which has a beautiful avenue of trees. By now it was raining hard.
After a few more fields and some up and down roads, I was starting to feel tired. The scenery was lovely as the path passed between the clear River Itchin and a smaller stream in which grew watercress and swans nibbled water weeds.
I knew I had gone about a mile out of my way when I came out by a church in the village of Itchin Stoke. Luckily, there was a bus from there to New Alresford where I could stay. So I went back and looked round that unusual church to pass the next fifty minutes. It was shaped and had patterned windows including a rose window at the back like a Paris church I’d once seen.
I’m looking forward to continuing my journey tomorrow. It is making sure I don’t overdo it at this early stage and get an injury.