Pilgrimage to Canterbury

2020 marks an important dual anniversary for the extraordinary figure of Thomas Becket. It will be 850 years since his dramatic murder on the 29 December 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral and 800 years since his body was moved on the 7 July 1220 from a tomb in the crypt of the Canterbury Cathedral into a glittering shrine

Organised by The Friends of Southwark Cathedral and joined by the Dean, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, this pilgrimage will take the route of the pilgrims from Southwark to Canterbury. During our walk we will gather pilgrim’s stamps at various locations.

There will be time for worship together lead by the Dean.

The cost is £100.00 per person for the 8 day walk or £15.00 per day - you can choose which days to join us. 

A short service will take place at the Cathedral on Saturday 23 May at 10.30am which all are invited to join. We are especially keen that as many people escort the pilgrims to the Elephant and Castle before they continue their pilgrimage as they head to Blackheath and Shooters Hill.

Everybody who books will receive a copy of the Pilgrim's Passport which can be stamped at different locations along the route. Those booking the full 8 days will also receive a copy of Walking The Pilgrims Way by Leigh Hatts.

We will provide snacks during the day and water refills, support vehicles with First Aider and guides to help us keep to the route.

Please note accommodation, meals and travel expenses to the designated starting points are not included.

Lunch options in pubs etc and toilet stops have been identified for each of the days and a break down will be given to participants nearer the time.

We have reserved some accommodation at Aylesford Priory between Monday and Thursday and can provide transport from the route to the Priory. We have also reserved some accommodation in Canterbury Cathedral Lodge from Thursday to Saturday. However, you will need to book and pay for your accommodation independently and rooms are reserved on a first come, first served basis. For help with this please contact Kate Dean at the details below.

You will also find other options for accommodation at The Pilgrims' Way website here

Day 1 – Saturday 23 May

Southwark Cathedral to Shooters Hill (8 miles)

Starting our Pilgrimage at Southwark Cathedral with a short service in the Nave at 10.30am. Together we will begin our walk, briefly stopping to view the plaque marking the place – the first leg will take us to Shooters Hill. This part of the walk is largely on tarmac and at the end of the day the group will be able to return home.

Day 2 – Sunday 24 May

Shooters Hill to Dartford (11 miles)

Our second day will begin where we finished on Shooters Hill. Gathering at 10am ready for a day of walking. Again, at the end of the day we will be able to return home. Our finish point will be Dartford Station.

Day 3 – Monday 25 May

Dartford to Otford (11.5 miles)

Our start time will be approximately 10am although we will adjust that time to suit the arrival of trains so we can begin the walk together. There are plenty of beautiful places to break our walk on the third day: Faringham, Eynsford Ford, and Lullingstone Castle. Once again we can return home as we finish the walk at Otford Station.

Day 4 – Tuesday 26 May

Otford to Halling (12.5 miles)

Beginning our walk at Otford Station at about 10am (as with previous days we will adjust our time to reflect the train times), we will break for lunch in Wrotham where there are a number of pubs to enjoy lunch or places to enjoy a picnic. Our finish point today is Halling Station.

Day 5 – Wednesday 27 May

Halling to Bearsted (11 miles)

Day 5 and 6 are two of the more tricky days and we will take the two days considering the weather etc. We have reserved some accommodation at Aylesford Priory and we will be able to use support vehicles to transport pilgrims to and from the route to the Priory if you choose to stay there. Alternatively we can take you to the nearest train station so you can travel home.

Day 6 – Thursday 28 May

Bearsted to Charing (11miles)

Today we begin at our usual time of approximately 10am at Bearstead Station walking to Charing Station. There are plenty of different opportunities for purchasing lunch in various pubs in Lenham where we will break. There is also a coffee shop and other lunch options as well as a Co-op to purchase food for a picnic.

Day 7 – Friday 29 May

Charing to Chilham (12 miles)

Transport will be available to transfer walkers from the train station at Charing to the start of the walk at the Clock House. And again at the end of the day we will transport from Chilham Square to the Station.

We will take our lunch break at Boughton Lees were there is a pub ‘The Flying Horse’ . Alternatively walkers can enjoy their picnic on the green. We will also be able to call into Boughton Aluph to visit the Pilgrims fireplace.

Day 8 – Saturday 30 May

Chilham to Canterbury (7.5 miles)

Our final day of walking begins in Chilham. The station is a little way off the route so we can arrange for transport from the station to the start point at Chilham Church. We will break for lunch as usual. Together we will walk into Canterbury arriving at the Cathedral in time for a Service and refreshments provided by The Friends of Canterbury Cathedral.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I wear? What should I bring?

We recommend that you prepare for all weather conditions! Regarding what to bring with you then the following are essential

  • A Backpack approx 20 - 30 litres

  • Walking boots which have been broken in and comfortable

  • Comfortable clothes for walking including a jumper and change of clothes in case of a downpour especially spare socks

  • Journal or notebook and pen to record your pilgrimage

  • Sun-cream, sun-hat and sunglasses

  • Re-usable water bottle (1 Litre minimum)

  • Money for snacks (not all places will take card)

  • Mobile phone

  • Camera

Who can join?

Anyone can join this pilgrimage and we encourage you to do so. Some of the walk is quite hard going under foot and the distances on some days are quite long. You will need to be used to walking for longer periods of time and we encourage you to join the practice walks if unsure. Under 16’s should be accompanied by someone over 18 years. If you have a disability please let us know. The route is not really suitable for wheelchairs.

Can I bring my dog?

Yes, dogs are welcome but you will need a lead as much of the route is close to roads and sometimes there are sheep in fields which we work through or nearby.

Can I bring children?

Yes, families are very welcome to join us. Please bear in mind the distances involved. All terrain buggies would be required for younger children who are too big for a papoose or backpack carrier.

Do I have to attend church to join the group?

Southwark Cathedral is an inclusive community and all and no-faiths are very welcome.

What is the money being raised for?

This is not a fundraising event but any excess funds will be held by The Friends of Southwark Cathedral to support the mission of the Cathedral.

For further information please contact Kate Dean, Director of The Friends of Southwark Cathedral by email or on 020 7367 6700.