Old Way – 250 miles – 3 weeks – Southampton to Canterbury.
Rediscovered by BPT co-founder William Parsons while researching the Gough map (c.1360), Old Way is being re-established by the BPT. This beautiful route linked European and British pilgrims alike who sought Thomas Becket’s shrine in Canterbury. You start at the busy double-tide port of Southampton before heading along the dramatic Solent shoreline, crossing the River Hamble in a tiny pink ferry, resting in the Golden Lion pub where D-Day was planned, past the St Thomas a Becket Church in Warblington, along the Solent Way and coastal channels to St Richard’s shrine at Chichester Cathedral. Then traverse wooded downland to Arundel, with its great castle and panoramic views.
Continue along the glorious South Downs via a medieval pilgrim hostel at Bramber, and let the sacred springs of Fulking revitalise you. Savour the soaring heights of Ditchling Beacon before reaching Lewes with its 11th century Priory, the first Cluniac house in England. Then experience the awesome silence at Bible Bottom valley before climbing to panoramic Mount Caburn and descending through ‘Bloomsbury set’ country around Firle with Berwick’s brightly painted church.
Leaving the Downs, sense the 5th century Wilmington Yew tree before the low wet grasslands of the Pevensey Levels until Battle, where the Norman Conquest was settled. Dramatic coastal landscapes are found as you pass through picturesque Winchelsea and Rye, before turning inland along the historically defensive River Rother into Kent. You traverse the remote Romney Marshes to Saltwood Castle, from where the knights who killed Thomas Becket made their final journey. Next, along the quintessential Elham Valley Way to refresh at St Ethelburga’s Well, Lyminge before coming to the ever-popular pilgrim church of Patrixbourne.
An unforgettable arrival at Canterbury, first from Mount Joy and then on entering the city walls with its extraordinary medieval ecclesiastical grandeur, an ultimate destination for British Pilgrimage.
Dramatic Solent Way shoreline
Arundel Castle and its commanding views
Soaring South Downs
Beloved landscape of the ‘Bloomsbury set’
The picturesque coastal towns of Winchelsea and Rye
Unforgettable arrival at Canterbury Cathedral
Old Way Online Guide now available for everything you need to know to walk Old Way
Holy places covered in Britain’s Pilgrim Places book: Bosham – Chichester – Arundel – Steyning – Botolphs – Battle – Lyminge – Canterbury
Many churches along the Old Way are soon to offer Sanctuary, and therefore you can stay overnight at low cost in these places.