Some dedicated walkers are those who yearn to tread paths other people meaningfully created a long time ago-- possibly because there were no busses, and no M4. Well worn trails which sometimes sink below the field beside them, towered over by ancient hedges, they have been the cause of many a weary foot (true pilgims shun shoes) on a hopeful pre-Gortex journey. The Canterbury pilgrimage to visit the shrine of Thomas ah Becket (who was murdered in 1170) is one of those--and it is surprisingly popular. Not only historic and a rather lovely meander through the Weald and along the chalk cliffs, there is always the possibility that visiting Becket's bones could yield miracles to those in need of instant cures for leprosy or blindness, although there is no exsiting record of where dem bones were hidden.
There are organized treks that anyone can join, but true afficianados are those like these kids who did the walk on a field trip. Alabama author Jerry Ellis, who has a passion for walking in the footsteps of his ancestors and claims to have thumbed enough miles to circumnavigate the globe five times, has written both about walking the Trail of Tears from his Cherokee clan and Canterbury on his Brit side . His research involved stopping at pubs and talking to a lot of bent-arm beer drinkers, which is always a nice way to walk. Perhaps the most engaging walkers are those like Ed and Will who want to BE a Canterbury pilgrim and aren't too worried that they've shown up a eight hundred years too late to catch up with the posse.
The Pilgrim's Way is a loop of the 153 mile North Downs Way which runs from Farnham to Canterbury via--Dorking. The national trail follows the bucolic top of the chalk downs, while the pilgrims are at the bottom--with all the sprawl. The "real" Chaucerian Pilgrim's Way from Southwark Cathedral in London to Canterbury Cathedral is easy to follow--it's the A2. Enthusiastic walkers who want to alternate the six lane experience for a few less congested routes need look only to our friend Google which estimates it will take them approximately 19 hours and 18 minutes by foot to hike the 57.6 miles cathedral to cathedral.
What do you do once you get to Canterbury and you've kissed the Cathedral? One of our young friends who was on the women's rugby team at University there told us her most enjoyeable moments were when they danced victoriously on the tables down the Hobgoblin.
The The Bishop's Finger is pretty good, too.