Day 14 – The Pilgrims Way

  • I took the 10X bus to Harrietsham this morning. The windows were grimy with rain, so it was difficult to tell where we were, but with the help of Google Maps, I got off at the right stop, Church Lane. And I walked up to the church.

Four or five people were cutting the grass. I found that the church door was open, so I went in and had a look around. No pilgrims stamp. There wasn’t even a visitor’s book at first glance. The donation device was not attached. I found lots of piled books and one of them was the visitor’s book. I pulled it out, put it on the desk, and signed it. The previous person to sign had been in 2023. On leaving the church, a man with a clipboard said, ‘Oh, you’ve been looking around, have you?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, just been in the church.’ And he said, ‘Oh, it’s not really open, it’s only open so the boys can use the facilities if they need.’

I decided to cut a corner to get back on the Pilgrim’s Way. Unfortunately, by doing that, I missed the statue of a monk on a seat, called ‘Pilgrim Resting.’

The Way was sometimes a road and other times a mud track, running along the hillside. it was windy, and I came to a place they’d planted 2000 trees for the Millennium. The trees provided good shelter and made the wind more atmospheric.

Above Lenham, a chalk cross was carved into the hillside. It had been done in 1922 as a war memorial for Lenham.

I carried on walking, and had lunch when I felt hungry. A ferret like animal, brown with white face, drank from a puddle. I had some olives, which again fell over in the bag even though I’d taken precautions. So I had an oily bag again. I couldn’t find the cucumber and lettuce I thought I had in there. And I noticed someone else had left some litter around, and so I ate the olives and then was about to set off when I thought, um, maybe I should pick up the litter even if it isn’t mine. So I stabbed it with my stick and found this cucumber and lettuce inside. It was mine. I don’t know what that goes to prove.

I carried on walking, on and on and on, the sun chasing cloud shadows across the fields. I sang some choruses. I thought about the pilgrims in the past and whether they went to Canterbury because of Jesus or because of Thomas Becket. Or Both? On and on and on, sometimes being mindful and aware of the Spring, at other times daydreaming.

I passed a few people. There was a lady coming the other way just after I’d been through a particularly flooded bit and I said, ‘It’s a bit muddy there,’ and she said, pointing behind her, ‘And there’. I saw a young lady leading a Shetland pony. Then a man with a dog carrying a poo bag who laughed when I said hello, and then two young men overtook me running. They skated about over the mud as they ran by.

I decided not to go down to Charing, because it was quite a long walk today. 11 miles minimum, and I didn’t want too many diversions. But my legs weren’t feeling too bad. Sun was out some of the time and it was windy all of the time.

Only at Westwell, did I decide to cut down to the village, down a footpath through young leafy crops. The church had a steeple; most of them have towers. And it was open and had a stamp, so I put the first stamp on my overflow card.

From that church, I remember the floral Millennium window. And a slogan on a banner, ‘Love God, Serve Community, Grow Church’. They had an Alpha course and trip hazards, several extension leads.

Having returned up the hill, I took a while to be sure about the route. When I found the way, there were some lovely rolling green fields. Then a ruined church and a large lake.

At the lake, I saw these two women with their two children, throwing in a big weight on a string, fishing? The children smiled at me. There was a big sign, ‘Private no fishing.’

I then didn’t look at my guidebook properly, went the wrong way round the lake and added another mile or so to the route.

So I ended the day confused and flustered and I got a bus that went through most of the estates in Ashford before getting to Ashford International Station where I caught the train for Maidstone. The stations now all had memories from the Pilgrim’s Way. It was interesting to see the Lenham white cross from a distance.


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