Following In The Footsteps
|Along The Pilgrims Way. Helen Allingham. (1848-1926)
From the dawn of Britain's history, an important route followed the ridge of the
North Downs from Winchester and the West to Canterbury and Dover, the natural gateway to the Continent. This high trackway
avoided the dense forest of the Weald below, and was reputedly used by pilgrims to the shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury.
Much of that ancient Way is still available to today's walker in the form of grassy track or quiet lanes, keeping (as it always
had done) to the southern slopes of the North Downs. But because busy roads now encroach more than formerly on the quiet of
the Pilgrims' Way, the North Downs Way - designed primarily as a scenic walking route - was officially opened in 1978. Where
the Pilgrims' Way is free of traffic, the North Downs Way shares its route, but it diverges where necessary to take the walker
away from roads. The Pilgrims' Way starts at Winchester and the North Downs Way starts at Farnham. The routes are divided
into 9 detailed sections, with descriptions of the cathredrals, towns, churches and monuments along the Way. There are notes
on route finding and transport facilities, together with a wealth of maps and photographs. The whole length of the North Downs
has been designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Downs, with their short springy turf and glorious views, are
ideal walking country.
Though this is the most famous of the pilgrim routes, there are many more,
and the purpose of this page is to, hopefully familiarise you, the reader with some of them, and to familiarise you with the
stops enroute, from historical to contemporary.
Like any pilgrimage, we have given you some road signs, in the shape of the links,
to be found, throughout this page. They are yours to walk, they are yours to explore. We'll be adding to them as often as
we can, so keep an eye open, there'll always be something new to see.