Day 13 – The Pilgrims Way

There were four churches on the route today. The first was at Boxley. When I went in through the front door, I found myself in a tiny Norman church that has been turned into a porch. They had refreshments for pilgrims. The main church had lots of flower decorations after Easter. It also had “HOPE” written in huge letters at the front.

Although, the Pilgrims’ Way continued as a small road, my guidebook took me along parallel footpaths for the first part of the day. Round the churchyard where there was a tree growing into the wall. Then, through some trees where I was overtaken by two boys and their mum, all hand in hand. One of the boys said, “I hope you’re having a nice walk,” very politely. They left me behind because they were going faster. Also the route directions were not straightforward and I kept rechecking.

The first obstacle was a dual carriage way. I climbed some steps up to it, then walked along and came to a footbridge with a picture of a dancer on the side. A girl of 9 called Jade and her grandma were killed there in the year 2000. There had been two previous deaths of elderly people there. So, the community clubbed together and built the bridge.

The bridge took me to Detling whose church was closed. I carried on from there along a narrow path. When it opened up, I found myself crossing two large fields planted with new vines with protective plastic sheaths. Skylarks twittered over my head.

Then, I came to the next church in Thurnham. Also closed. So no stamp. But a lovely display of daffodils beside the path.

After another footpath and a picturesque double oast house, I rejoined the Pilgrims’ Way. It meandered from side to side, and rolled up and down. The hedgerows were fresh with Spring flowers: dandelions mostly, but also white and red dead-nettle, celandine, wild garlic, and shepherd’s purse. Bumblebees hovered about. The hedges were coming into leaf or blossom. And there was lots of birdsong. Not many cars either. So not bad.

I walked on and on without any change of route until I got to Hollingbourne where there was another oast house. Someone congratulated me on the walk and asked how I was getting on.

The church was open, and I got a stamp to complete my passport of 24 stamps. I’ll need a continuation sheet now as there’s no room left for Canterbury Cathedral.

My leg felt a bit better today but I thought I wouldn’t push it too much. Also I saw there was a bus going back to Maidstone in about a quarter of an hour. So, I sat on a seat and took off my plastic trousers and my support bandages. The bus went through Leeds. Not Leeds, Yorkshire, but Leeds of Leeds Castle.

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