I began the day with a full English breakfast. Then planned to catch the bus to rejoin the Pilgrim’s Way at Bishop Sutton.
While I was waiting, I explored St. John’s church, which is right behind my room. I had heard its bells ringing the night before, so I was curious to see it. It was lovely, with stained glass windows and interactive exhibits. It even had a stamp for my passport.
I took the bus to Bishop Sutton and immediately visited another church. It looked old. Inside, there was a table for pilgrims with two bottles of Pellegrino sparkling water and some biscuits in a tin. I saw in the visitors’ book that someone named Kimbo Hoyton had been doing the pilgrimage just four days ahead of me.
I found out there was a carol called “Bethlehem Down” written by someone from that church who was buried in the churchyard. I listened to it on YouTube. Lovely!
A man came into the church to change the hymn numbers. He had a greyhound with him, and he commented on all the Harvest decorations that had been left around the church.
From there, I walked down a little road, crossing a footbridge next to a ford with cattle watching. I continued cutting across the countryside on footpaths. At some stage, the footpath ended, and I had to go down a little road where I met two men who were looking for a place called “East Tiddly” or something similar. They had instruction sheets and Google Maps, but were completely lost.
They asked if I knew the way, and I showed them the map I had in my guidebook, but it only showed the Pilgrim’s Way and a little bit either side. At the time, I was also looking for a stile that the book said was difficult to find.
We walked in the same direction for a little while, and then I found the stile. I told them I was going that way. They weren’t sure whether to follow, but as I walked across the field, I saw that they followed some way behind me.
I arrived in Ropley and bought an orange and a banana at the village shop. People were sitting outside enjoying the sunshine. One lady came up to me when she saw me reading my Pilgrim’s Way guidebook and wished me the best of luck for the walk.
The church in Ropley had burned down in 2014, but got a new roof in 2022. Inside, it was restyled and reopened, but still has the original Norman walls. There was a historical event going on with different historical societies and people coming along to look at them and listen to talks.
After leaving, there was a little bit of rain. I crossed through a large field full of sheep and then a grassy field. Then I had to cut through the middle of a field with a tiny track through lots of enormous turnips.
After that, I came to a wood. The guidebook suggested taking the main path, but the way I went in didn’t seem to have any main path. So, I went back a bit and found a way that did seem to have a more main path.
I walked through under the trees, past a tree that some children had decorated with little doors, painted stones, and a sign that said “Be kind.” After that, I came to a crossroads and saw a Saint Swithun’s Way marker pointing straight on.
Out of the wood, I came out into the sunshine and could see a rainbow. I thought it was a good sign for the walk.
For a while I walked wide grassy paths. These were followed by narrow fenced-in paths until I came out near a garden center.
My left knee had been hurting quite a bit, and I was a bit worried about what might happen if I pushed myself too hard, so I decided to hop on a bus for a mile or so.
I got off at Chawton, but after getting off, my knee started hurting really badly, and I was hobbling. I could hardly walk.
I tried to walk to the church but needed to rest and then turned back. I sat across from Jane Austen’s old house, now a museum, and watched the last visitors leave. I’d wanted to do the Pilgrims Way for a long time and was only 2 days into the walk. I could not walk to Alton as planned but hobbled back to the bus stop. I will rest tomorrow, Sunday, and see how I feel on Monday.