Old Way

Featured Routes, SE England & London, 2-3 week, Old Way, Sanctuary

Old Way – 240 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 walking 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

Holy places covered in Britain’s Pilgrim Places book: Bosham – Chichester – Arundel – Steyning – Botolphs – Battle – Lyminge – Canterbury

Old Way Online Guide – for everything you need to know to walk Old Way

Find out details of low-cost Sanctuary accommodation along the route, and other accommodation is listed in the Online Guide

NB: our Old Way Online Guide is free for everyone to use, but if you want to support us in making these resources free to the general public, please consider donating or becoming a friend of our charity.

Old Way Discovery & Creation

Old Way Online Guide

Further Reading on Old Way

Download Old Way route onto your smartphone

Instructions for using a GPX file to show you the route offline on your smartphone

Give feedback on this route


Bargate, Southampton (Credit © Will Parsons)

Titchfield Abbey

Bosham Quay

Chichester Cathedral from Bishops Palace Gardens


Font and Nave of St Nicholas, Arundel

Pilgrims approach Chanctonbury Ring

A dew pond near Ditchling Beacon (Credit Lemanieh, © iStockPhoto)


Entering Lewes via Castlegate

Berwick Church, painted by the Bloomsbury Group (Credit © Will Parsons)

Pilgrims take in the view from the top of the Long Man of Wilmington

Battle Abbey (Credit © Will Parsons)

St Thomas Becket Church, Winchelsea

Cobbled streets of Rye (Credit © Will Parsons)

Elizabeth Barton’s well

St Mary’s Patrixbourne (Credit © Will Parsons)


Canterbury Cathedral


Give a Brief Review of this Route


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  1. kerry pennings


  2. Susan Wagland

    Could we please have the route in sections as before? The full route is too big a file for my route app and phone to load and process.

    • Dawn Champion

      Hi Susan, the GPX download includes the full route and the 14 separate stages, I’ve emailed you to see if we can help.

  3. Susan

    Just walked the stage between Slindon via Arundel to Houghton. Beautiful! South Stoke and North Stoke churches were delightful

  4. michel dugas

    I am trying to get the GPX and all what I can get on the OLD WAY as we are in Quebec. If a donation is required that is possible but we would like to know

  5. Pikke

    Completed this walk (all 240 miles) in stages over a year. It is absolutely fabulous and well planned route avoiding main roads and busy towns. Spectacular views and places. Somewhat challenging as quite hilly in places but it was all worth it. Stayed in some sanctuaries that were all fabulous. Ended in Canterbury by joining choral evesong that was just beautiful end to the journey. Highly recommended route.


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