Pilgrimage 2023 – Rye to Canterbury

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

What is a Pilgrimage?

The best way to describe a pilgrimage is a ‘Walk with God’. Of course, God can be present on any walk and there are many other ways of encountering God but there is something special about a Pilgrimage. A number of things make it different.

Each day, during the pilgrimage, will be framed by prayers and bible readings. We will visit churches and religious sites on the route of the walk. These things won’t take up a lot of the day but they will flavour the rest of the walk.

While we are walking, and during the meals and rest times, there is plenty of time for conversation. You may want to walk alone at times but getting to know each other really well is part of the pilgrimage.

And, above all, I have discovered is that there is something special about the rhythm of walking, putting one foot after each other and the slow unfolding of the landscape. The rhythm of conversations and meetings with other people. All of this is quite different from our everyday lives. After a couple of days it feels like our minds and bodies are freed from their normal constraints and there is more time and space for God to come alongside us.

When is it?

The pilgrimage will start on the 21st of August and end on the 25th of August. There will be an opportunity to stay an extra night in Canterbury to enjoy the city the next day.

Where do we go and how long is the walk?

The following list shows the start and end points of the days and the length of each day. The total length of the walk is 57 miles.

  • Rye to Appledore – 9 miles
  • Appledore to Bilsington – 10 miles
  • Bilsington to Saltwood – 11 miles
  • Saltwood to Barham – 13 miles
  • Barham to Canterbury – 13.5 miles
  • Optional stay in Canterbury and a day in the city on Saturday.

To get to the start and leave at the end there is a train station at Rye and Canterbury. There will be some space in the support cars as well.

How fit do I need to be?

Fitness is all relative. You don’t need to be able to run a marathon! But you will need to be able to walk 13 miles at a steady pace with only a few stops. It is worth bearing in mind that the entire group will walk at the pace of the slowest person. I will be organising a series of ‘training walks’ in the Spring and Summer. Everyone who is coming on the pilgrimage (even for one day) will need to do one of the longer ones.

But, if you feel you cannot do this, at the moment, and you would like to come, all is not lost. Please contact me and we will work out a training schedule.

What equipment do I need?

We will have car support to transport the overnight luggage so you do not need a big back pack. But you will need the following:

  • A good pair of walking boots. If you do not have these already buy them as soon as possible. You do not want to be breaking them in on the Pilgrimage!
  • A lightweight, waterproof jacket. As it is August we are hoping the weather will not be cold but this is England. We may well have rain
  • A backpack to hold sandwiches and a water bottle.
  • A hat to keep the sun off your head. Even if this is just a cap it will make all the difference.

How much will it cost?

At this point it is hard to say but I would allow about £100 per night. We will update this when we have a better idea.

Do I have to do the whole pilgrimage?

No, you can join for one day or a few days. But it is worth remembering that you will still need to do a training walk even if you are just coming for one day.

And finally, do I need to be ‘super spiritual’ to do the pilgrimage?

Definitely not! I always say that, wherever you are in your spiritual journey, a pilgrimage will take you to the next stage. Just come with a trusting and open heart and you will be fine.

If you are interested in joining us please fill in the form below. I’ll be in touch.

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