2-day Mini Pilgrimage Experience

Canterbury to Dover (6-7 May)

If you are looking for a way to experience a pilgrimage but don’t have the time to walk to Rome or Santiago, you can join this mini-pilgrimage on the UK section of the Via Francigena.

Description of the walk:

Leaving from the gates of the Canterbury Cathedral on Saturday 6 May, you will pass the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Canterbury Cathedral, St. Augustine’s Abbey and St. Martin’s Church.  Just outside of Canterbury, the Kent countryside opens up into apple orchards and farmland as the route of the Via Francigena makes its way down narrow hedge-lined lanes.  The first village on the route is Patrixbourne where you will see the 12th century Norman church of St. Mary’s.  Crossing fields for several miles, the route passes nearby to the stately Higham Park which has had such notable guest as Mozart and Jane Austen.  The last village of the day is the picturesque village of Womenswold boasting another wonderful Norman 12th-century church.  The route continues on to the town of Shepherdswell, where the group will verge off to the north to the town of Eythorne.  At Eythorne pilgrims will be welcomed by Reverend Sue White to the facilities of the Community Hall.  The Community Hall offers basic shelter (mats and sleeping bags will be required) and the promise of a warm meal enjoyed pilgrim-style at large tables where experiences of the day can be exchanged.  Following the meal will be a showing of the film The Way (2010) with Martin Sheen, which tells the story of one man’s pilgrimage to Santiago and the unlikely friendships he forges along the way.  

Sunday, 7 May the group will enjoy breakfast at the Community Hall before setting off onto the Via Francigena with the destination of Dover just 10 miles away.  The route takes in the early Saxon church of St. Pancras in Coldred with its Roman origins before crossing the estate of Waldershare Park.  The route brings walkers past the impressive 18th-century manor house with 20th century restorations and the adjoining church of All Saints with its atmospheric cemetery.  

After Waldershare the route joins the ancient Roman road from Canterbury to Dover, which is appropriately straight.  The Roman road brings the route through the outskirts of Dover along farm tracks and woodland lanes until finally descending into the port town where we will make a stop at St. Edmund’s Chapel, consecrated in 1253. The day ends at the Dover Marina where pilgrims to Rome would board a boat to continue their journey through France.  For this mini-pilgrimage however, Dover is the last stop.  The numerous historic sights of Dover are well-worth a visit.  The museum with its preserved Bronze-age boat for instance offers free-admission and some wonderful insights into Dover’s dynamic history and heritage.  


The current time of departure (to be confirmed) is 10 am on 6 May from the Canterbury Cathedral Gate.  We should arrive in Eythorne by 5 pm with stops along the way for lunch and snacks.  Departure from Eythorne, 7 May will be at 9 am with estimated arrival in Dover at 1 pm. 


Julia Peters (PhD student University of Kent)

Jo Tinkler (Bewsborough Lay Minister)

 How to Register:

Please fill in the form below no later than 2 May to register for the walk. We will need to know numbers for the accommodation in Eythorne and also to prepare the meals.  The cost of £10 is payable on the day.

What to bring:

  • comfortable walking boots or trainers (it can get very muddy in Kent)
  • mat and sleeping bag
  • small towel
  • water bottle 
  • sun screen
  • layered clothing is suggested (waterproof jacket, long-sleeved shirt)
  • snacks (i.e. nuts, fruit, chocolate)

Note about Accommodation:

This walk is possible due to the hospitality of the Eythorne Community Hall.  Please note the Hall is equipped with toilets but not showers.  



Past events on the Via Francigena

The Via Francigena features in UK’s Being Human Festival

20 November, 2016


St. Augstine’s Abbey with Canterbury Cathedral in background

As part of the UK-wide festival entitled ‘Being Human’, the University of Kent has organised a 12 mile walk on the pilgrimage route The Via Francigena.  Participants will begin their experience of the historic route at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Canterbury Cathedral.  Exiting the walled city, the Francigena goes past the Abbey of St. Augustine and St. Martin’s church, the first Christian church in the English-speaking world.  The route takes in the Kent villages of Patrixbourne, Womenswold, and lastly Shepherdswell, where the walk will conclude. 

The Being Human Festival is led by the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, and is being run in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.  Its aim is to engage the public with humanities research that is taking place throughout the UK.  The overall theme for this year is the human experience of hope and fear, which ties in particularly well to the experience of pilgrims through the ages who have journeyed along the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome.  The walk, led by PhD student Julia Peters, from the department of Classics and Archaeology at the University of Kent, offers participants an opportunity to reflect on the experience of pilgrims setting off for unknown lands where their fate rested on the generosity of both man and nature as they covered 1200 miles typically on foot.  

This free event will take place on Sunday, 20 November and will begin at the gates of the Canterbury Cathedral at 9 am and finish at 3pm. 

Follow the festival on Twitter @BeingHumanFest | #BeingHuman16


 Join the first day of the walk on the Via Francigena – March 28, 2015!

see below for more details: 

Day 1 in paint

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