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Colin & Michelle Conquer the Pilgrims Way

Walking 170 miles from Winchester to Canterbury in 9 days

After reading an article in Country Walking magazine in 2017 Colin and Michelle felt inspired and decided to take up the challenge of walking The Pilgrims Way from Winchester to Canterbury. 

Following a year of distance planning, training, booking accommodation and travel arrangements, the couple completed the route on 13th October 2018, covering 170 miles in just 9 days. This is equivalent to over six marathons!!

Colin and Michelle raised an incredible £752.74 for Break. You can show your support and make an online donation to them by visiting their Virgin Money Giving page. Thank you.

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"Looking back on all our adventures we had, I would say what a fantastic experience and fully recommend this trail to be undertaken, if you dare!!" - Michelle.

"We would like to thank all our friends and relatives, also total strangers who supported us in our fundraising" - Colin.

The following is a snippet of the diary of Colin and Michelle's adventure:


Day 1 Winchester to Chawton - 23miles – Temp 24C Sunny – Walk time 9hrs 36mins

We travelled down to Winchester by train the day before our walk started, feeling quite apprehensive, but excited about the next 9 days ahead of us. After eating a hearty breakfast in a well-known pub chain we headed for the Cathedral to collect our passports and first stamp. The shrine of St Swithun is the official starting place and we began our walk from there at 09.30.

Day 2 Chawton to Puttenham - 23 miles – Temp 14C Rain – Walk time 9hrs 17mins
We started on a misty morning at 08.00, we passed a fabulous bench that had lions carved into it to commemorate 100 years of the Lions in Alton. After the 16 mile mark at Farnham, we stopped for a drink and a bite to eat and here we joined the start of The North Downs Way. Still raining, the last 7 miles to the Eco Barn at Puttenham seemed to be a long haul mainly on minor roads, past large houses which all seemed to have electronic gates.

Day 3 Puttenham to Dorking - 24 miles - Temp 16C Cloudy – Walk time 9hrs 15mins
We rose early this morning packed all our wet gear into bags before packing them in our backpack. On the road again by 07.30. A rest stop at Abinger Hammer after 16 miles in a quirky tea shop was very much needed.

Day 4 Dorking to Woldingham - 22 miles – Temp 18C Sunny – Walk time 8hrs 51mins
We started walking at 09.30 and planned on only covering 18 miles today. Lovely walking through the Surrey hills on a bright warm day. We stopped on the outskirts of Reigate for lunch after 8 miles, the pub was shut where we had planned to have refreshments, so had to visit a nearby hotel, our lunch here was very luxurious.

Day 5 Woldingham to Kemsing - 16 miles – Temp 20C Sunny – Walk time 7hrs 3mins
Ironically opening the curtains in the morning to a gorgeous sunny day we could see in the distance the exact same track we ended on the night before. We were on our way by 09.00. Following a steep path back down onto PW we wished for a slightly less eventful day. Probably the busiest road on our route, a ‘B’ road which runs parallel with the motorway, which the drivers think they are on, with no footpath it was quite treacherous, leaving all this behind, knowing we were only 4 miles from our destination for the night.

Day 6 Kemsing to Wouldham - 15.5 miles – Temp 20C Sunny – Walk time 5hrs 59mins
Today was to be less eventful. We started our walking by 10.00 using one of the rucksack as a clothes drier. We shall cross the County border into Kent at the Medway River later, which would be a major step knowing we will be in Canterbury County.

Day 7 Wouldham to Harrietsham - 18.5 miles – Temp 21C Sunny – Walk time 6hrs 55mins
With the temperature on the rise again we started at 08.30 in shorts and base layer only, following the bank of The River Medway through a solar farm, power substation and sewerage farm, after 3 miles we reach a 17th Century thatched barn which includes a restaurant, part of The Friars at Aylesford, for breakfast. Walking through five villages all with either the church being locked or no stamp for our passports this will be the first day where we have not been able to collect anything for our passports.

Day 8 Harrietsham to Chilham - 20 miles – Temp 21C Sunny – Walk time 7hrs 29minsStarting out at 09.00 for our next 7.5 hours of walking. We climbed out of the town past the large Marley tile works onto the North Downs Way, which the PW follows for most of the next 20 miles. Deep into the woods we caught our first glimpse of Canterbury Cathedral, through the trees across the Great Stour valley, it’s tower rising above the city 10 miles away as the crow flies, but still a further 13 miles for us.

Day 9 Chilham to Canterbury 10 miles – Temp 23C Sunny – Walk time 4hrs 12mins
We had a leisurely start at 10.00 after reapplying all plasters, the first mile took over half an hour to complete getting our bodies to move again. The map we had used for most of the hike was the A-Z booklet for walkers, on an OS 1:25000 scale, where we had been covering 6 to 8 pages every day, today we were only covering 4 “turning the page” became a bit of a catch phrase over the last nine days as music to our ears knowing we were getting closer to our destinations.

On entering the walled city we felt quite claustrophobic, as we had not seen so many people for the last nine days with locals, tourists and students everywhere. Reaching the Cathedral we received the final stamp for our passport and were let through Christ Church Gate, we could almost see the full splendour of the building.

We just could not believe after 9 days, 170 miles, 68 ‘boots on’ hours, total ascent 24,154ft (7362m), which is the height of Mount Kirat Chuli in the Himalayas which is the 76 highest mountain in the world, totally exhausted, but still on speaking terms, we did shed a tear of joy, knowing that we had completed the Pilgrims Way, just the two of us.

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