After a day of rest to aid my knee recovery, I cautiously resumed the Pilgrims Way, armed with a makeshift walking stick. I boarded an early bus to Upper Froyle, near Alton, near where I had left off the previous day.
My first stop was the church in Upper Froyle, where I was greeted by the melodies from the organ. The church’s interior was adorned with vibrant stained glass windows and statues. A harvest display added to the charm. In the visitor’s book, I noticed an entry from a fellow pilgrim from Australia, who had also appreciated the organist’s music two days beforehand. The church also had a modern Pilgrim’s Way window showing Winchester and Canterbury Cathedrals.
Leaving the church, I meandered along a footpath that led to a long, tree-lined driveway, with a grand manor house behind. The path eventually opened into a field where some sort of excavation was underway.
The path continued towards a large house called Pax Hill, once the residence of Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout movement. Now a care home for the elderly, it had a bicycle adorned with autumnal flowers outside.
From Pax Hill, I followed a path that the guidebook identified as part of the original Pilgrim’s Way. It led to a wide-open field covered in a shoots of winter wheat. Walking slowly, aided by my stick, I found myself immersed in the present moment.
The path eventually arrived at the village of Bentley. With its narrow, winding lanes, I reached the village church, where ancient yew trees formed an archway. Inside, I sat quietly on a pew, enjoying the quiet.
Concerned about my knee and not thinking I could manage 11 miles, I decided to take a bus to Farnham. There, I walked back to the point where the Pilgrim’s Way entered the town and then headed towards Farnham Castle.
The castle, now under the care of English Heritage, was an impressive sight. I wandered around, admiring the ancient walls and trying to imagine its past glory. It had been a residence and fortress for the Bishop of Winchester.
Descending into Farnham town, I visited the church and then the town council’s information center, where I requested a stamp for my pilgrim’s passport. They obliged with an old-fashioned, chunky stamp, noting that I was the first person to ask for such a stamp. The lady told me that Farnham is in Surrey but is surrounded by Hampshire on three side. I asked if that is why they needed a castle.
Crossing a dual carriageway, I reached the next section of the Pilgrim’s Way, which is the start of the North Downs Way. A large sculpture marked the starting point. I walked for about a mile along the River Wey, but my knee started to twinge, so I decided to turn back.
At the bus stop, I saw Richard W, a former colleague, with his grandchild and family. I think he still lives near Abingdon so was surprised. I couldn’t greet him properly due to the crowd.
Back in Guildford, I bought a proper walking stick from Mountain Warehouse and also got a support bandage for my knee, hoping to protect it tomorrow. My B&B was booked before I knew of the days rest and is in Guildford so it will be easier to walk from here and return to Farnham later. I hope I don’t get too many sections need walking out of sequence.