The BPT has pioneered what may be Britain’s first Festival Pilgrimage route!
Will Parsons, co-founder and original visionary of BPT, has teamed up with Smugglers Festival in East Kent to create a pilgrimage route that festival-goers can follow. Read more:
So you want to head along to one of Kent’s best small festival events, for the freedom, love and joy? Of course you do. Welcome to Smuggler’s Festival 2019!
Smugglers is a tiny festival that happens near Deal each year. This is its 9th year, and it keeps getting better! Tickets are very limited, and all camping weekend tickets are sold out. So there is only room for people coming along for a day at a time – which is perfect for walking in on pilgrimage!
Why drive somewhere beautiful in a small pollutive box, when you can take a train and then walk in as a Festival Pilgrim? Arrive more wholesomely, making better contact with the land and your body!
This micro-pilg is 3.5 miles, so takes about 1 ½ hours to walk. But plan for two hours, giving you time to taste the local beer and ice-cream, and to stop and feel the good places as you find them.
Holy places en route include an ancient woodland, a pub, a 1000 year old Yew Tree, a prehistoric sacred complex, a church, and a great little pub.
The route is way-marked with white cotton ribbons (which will be removed afterward). If you want the GPX route, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you a copy directly.
For digital backup, use the GPX route. Import this to your device (email it to yourself), and ‘open with’ using your chosen navigation app. GURU maps is good – as is Viewranger – and OS Maps is pretty great too. You may need to register, and for OS maps you’ll need to sign up to a monthly sub. But the advantage of these apps is that THEY SHOW YOU WHERE YOU ARE ON THE MAP. This is Harry-Potterish magic.
The route is 3.5 miles with mild hills. The greatest hazard is probably excessive sunshine and dehydration, so carry some suncream and a bottle of water. There is a pub, and an ice-cream parlour en route, so you’ll hardly be roughing it. Supplies are available!
Also, the path we have marked on the GPX route goes directly between the church and the pub and ice-cream parlour. But don’t miss these, especially the church with its Yew tree!
More detailed route information for the micro-pilgrimage to Smuggler’s Festival 2019.
1. Start at Walmer Train Station. This is served from either Sandwich or Dover. Access is good. https://www.thetrainline.com/stations/walmer
2. Walk down Station Drive toward the road, and cross over to take Mayers Road. A half-hidden sign advertises this as the ‘Skylark Trail’ to Dover.
3. Follow Mayers Road to the end, where urban becomes rural. There is a choice of two paths. Take the left hand fork which goes straight forward. This runs alongside the Heras fencing of a sad new housing development. Walk away from all this.
4. When the large scrubland ends, the narrow path enters the trees. Follow this way, and walk on through the old chalk paths among ancient trees. Holm oaks, Pines, Beech and Chestnut. This way includes rope-swings. Enjoy!
5. The woods turns right. Follow the path till it emerges onto a field, and turn right. Cross a tiny road, and the railway line, and continue along the tree edge.
6. Follow this track through the vast fields of cut cabbage. They look almost like snow, so bleached white are the stems. Continue straight until you reach Church road.
7. From here, you can walk left to the Plough Inn, or right to the Church, Yew and Ice Cream Parlour. Your choice. Then return to where here. The Church is a new-build on the site of a very ancient one. Sir John French, commander of the British Army at the start of WW1, is buried here. Perhaps go and sit awhile by his remains and try to feel forgiveness? The ancient Yew tree is vast. Circumambulate it, and meditate on change and death here awhile, if you like.
8. Follow straight over the field. You will see why this area is called Ripple.
9. Take steps down to the road, turn right for 50 yards, and take the footpath over fields on your left. Walk uphill. On the other side of the hedge the great sacred complex of this area begins, hidden under fields of cut crops.
10. At the top of the Black Hill you reach Pixwell point. Where is the Pixie Well this was named after? Have a sniff about and see what you can find.
11. Take the track over the narrow road, and follow past the gravel mound. Uncut wheat remains here, so pick an ear to give as a golden gift to someone en route.
12. A few hundred metres on, before the field becomes Maize, scramble up the bank to your right. Keep following up the hill, until you can suddenly see the Smugglers Festival down in the valley ahead. A little further on you will also see Ramsgate and the sea! This is your Mount Joy!
13. As the footpath heads downhill toward trees, keep to the field margin where it turns left. You will pass alongside an old car dump. Look out for badger holes in the path.
14. Keep left of the hedge, and follow straight. The entrance for Smugglers Festival is on your right two hundred metres along!
Congratulations, Festival Pilgrim! Don’t forget, you can walk back again at the end, with as many refreshing drinks in your blood as you like! No breathalysers for walking!
See the interactive map below for more information!
Photos © Will Parsons.