NEED TO KNOW
LOCATION The Pilgrims’ Way crosses southern England from Hampshire to Kent
WEATHER Daytime temperatures in summer are 57–73°F (14–23°C), in spring and autumn 46–57°F (8–14°C).
Rain is possible at any time
DISTANCE The walk from Winchester to Canterbury is 120 miles (195 km)
For most of its course, the Pilgrims’ Way follows the crest of the North Downs. The route was already ancient when, in the 12th century, pilgrims first set out from Winchester, England’s ancient capital, to visit the shrine of Thomas à Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral. It was established three millennia ago, to transport tin and iron from the West Country to Kent, and on to mainland Europe. It offers some glorious views, although it occasionally dips into a valley to pass through fine market towns such as Farnham and Dorking.
From Canterbury, you can continue south on the Via Francigena (see pp96–7), or head north to London on the route used by Chaucer’s pilgrims.
Getting There and Around Winchester is 1 hr by train from London Waterloo. Canterbury is 1½ hrs from London (Victoria or Charing Cross) by train, and 20 minutes from the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel.
When to Go Due to southern England’s temperate climate, the pilgrimage can be undertaken anytime between March and October. In July and August you may need to book your accommodations well in advance.