A Pilgrimage for Armistice 1918

This October/November, the British Pilgrimage Trust is making a 350 mile pilgrimage on foot to celebrate the centenary of the Armistice of 1918, and to honour those who lost their lives in World War One.

See and Hear #100silences here


See the Itinerary


William Parsons, BPT co-founder, is walking 350 miles from Southampton, where the British Expeditionary Force departed in 1914, to Dover, the return port of the Unknown Soldier, the only British World War One soldier whose dead body returned to the UK.

This 350 mile pilgrimage culminates at Westminster Abbey, at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior, on November 11th.

Along the way, ‘sacred soil’ from battlefields in Ypres, Somme, Arras and Aisne will be placed at 100 war memorials on the path. Also, 100 silences shall be recorded and filmed at these memorials, to share online in the approach to November 11 2018.


See and Hear #100silences here


Credit The Wellcome Collection

WW1 largely defies celebration. During its four long years, the suffering this war caused is beyond comprehension. Around one million British and Commonwealth soldiers died in the conflict. The peace that they won lasted only 21 years. But these soldiers fought and died for their children and grandchildren, which is us. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. So today, one hundred years after Armistice 1918, it is the right time to honour their sacrifice and loss.


Here at the BPT, we do this with pilgrimage, with which we intend to celebrate this centenary of peace, and to honour its terrible cost. Our journey on foot is 350 miles from Southampton – Port No 1 from which so many soldiers departed during WW1, in particular the British Expeditionary Force at the start of the war in 1914. We walk on to Dover (following the Old Way pilgrimage route). Dover is where many thousands of wounded soldiers returned. It is also where the Unknown Warrior returned to Britain, the only British soldier whose dead body was brought back from the Trenches. The Unknown Warrior returned in full ceremony and total anonymity, to represent all the lost soldiers of the Trenches whose bodies did not return. He is buried in Westminster Abbey, which is where our pilgrimage ends on November 11th.


Along the pilgrimage, we will leave soil from the battlefields of Arras, Ypres, Somme and Aisne, to deposit a little of these fallen heroes at 100 war memorials along the way. We shall also hold one minute’s silence in the 28 day build-up to November 11th, and share one of these silences online every day at 11:11am.


To follow this pilgrimage, please look for @pilgrimtrust on Twitter, on Facebook or Instagram, or search for #100silences.


If you are of a mind to donate toward this Centenary, we recommend SSAFA, the armed forces support and assistance charity, who help wounded or disabled servicemen, and their families, through all sort of traumas and difficulties.


Thank you.

See and Hear #100silences here


Credit: The Wellcome Collection


The Route

The route is 350 miles along the Old Way pilgrimage route from Southampton, and detouring at Saltwood to reach Dover. The path followed then returns toward London via Canterbury. This pilgrimage will take 30 days.

Media Enquiries

We are happy to share this story. Get in touch: will (at) britishpilgrimage.org

Who is walking this pilgrimage?

Will is walking this pilgrimage from end to end, but will be joined by various guests along the way.

Where are you sleeping?

To respect the conditions experienced by soldiers in WW1, sleep will not be in BnBs or hotels during this pilgrimage. All accommodation will be on stone floors in churches, or outside.

Do you have a support vehicle?

This is an unsupported pilgrimage, 30 days living out of a backpack.

Can I join this pilgrimage?

Unfortunately this is not an open pilgrimage. But we recommend you make a similar War Memorial pilgrimage yourself.

How do I make my own War Memorial pilgrimage?

To make a pilgrimage to celebrate the centenary of Armistice 1918, and to honour the fallen, simply choose a war memorial that seems a good distance away from your home or starting place. You can find a war memorial near you using the IWM website. Aim for one which has some personal connection with your and your family, if possible. Plot a route using OS maps (1:25k scale), which can be found online or on paper in newsagents. Keep to footpaths wherever possible, and visit churches along the way, where other war memorials will be found. Take your own silence at each memorial, and culminate with two minutes silence. If you are technically minded, perhaps record a silence at your war memorial, and post it online with the hashtag #100silences. Good luck!

Why are you walking with a dog?

Dogs played a significant role in medical rescue during the First World War, although this role is much forgotten. There is a source of information here: https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/blog/2013/10/01/what-a-ruff-life-the-role-of-dogs-in-wwi-trenches

Many WW1 soldiers desperately missed home, the stability and safety of life, their family, friends and very probably, their faithful hound. There were many departures and farewells, but one that gets little attention in the WW1 story is soldiers bidding farewell to their dogs, who would have sat waiting for the master to return…though he likely never did.

So when considering the dog, Will thought – what would a WW1 soldier alive today have done? Taken his dog, or leave her behind? It seemed rather obvious…

Can I donate money to this?

You can always donate money to the BPT, here: http://britishpilgrimage.org/the-bpt/donate/

But for this event, you may wish to consider donating money to another charity, such as SSAFA, who provide support for soldiers and ex-servicemen and their families through disability, debt, homelessness and mental health issues.

You can donate to SSAFA here: https://www.ssafa.org.uk/donate

Thank you.

See and Hear #100silences here