Day 3- Walking The Via Francigena- Canterbury To Whitfield
Last night, it rained very strongly.
Everything was still wet when we got up this morning.
We dressed for the rain and covered our backpacks, and the I quickly and silently asked the Universe to hold off on the rain, until after we finished our walking day.
I asked for the rain to hold off until 5:30 PM.
My wish was granted in full.
It was a very cloudy and misty day, but not a drop of rain fell on us.
It was actually nice to walk on this overcast day.
It wasn’t too hot, and the mist gathering over the fields gave the landscape a dreamy, cinematic feeling.
We had breakfast in Town, in a lovely brassiere.
I had a hot oats porridge with berries and a fresh orange juice.
Jules had homemade pancake.
The distance between Canterbury and Dover is estimated at 30 km.
Because it was our first day walking with our heavy pilgrimage packs, I chose a charming B&B in the village of Whitfield Church, estimated to be about 20 kilometers from Canterbury.
As always when measuring on Google Maps, the actual distance turned out to be much longer.
The twenty Kilometers turned out to be thirty, and our feet and shoulders were throbbing when we finally made our way to the guesthouse.
The path was well signed, although less with Via Francigena signs, and more with those for North Downs Way, which is a circular long distance National Trail.
Many people cycle the North Downs Way, which is mostly on narrow paved one-lane roads that do not get much car traffic.
The Via Francigena and the the walking only paths of North Downs Way, crisscross many farms, agricultural fields, and small local foot paths.
Many times the path took us through farmland, where we had to open and cross small farm gates, or step over small wooden livestock fences.
But it was always well marked and easy to find our way.
When crossing newly plowed or just recently planted fields, I could imagine that it would be harder to discern the walking path, but it was easy to see at this time of year.
The path was hilly, but only gentle rolling hills.
Along the path, there were no places to sit, drink or eat.
If you do not follow the path and walk by the side of the main car road to Dover, you would have your choice of places to eat and the road is much shorter.
As we chose to follow the foot path all day today, our only choice was a small pub across from St Andrew’s Church in the village of Shepherdswell.
This small very old church constructed of flint, a beautiful local building stone with variegated black shiny surfaces, is open every day for both locals and tourists to visit.
Since we had walked for nearly six hours with no break and no food, except for a mini baguette that we had bought in Canterbury before setting out, we thought to stop for a cup of tea at the pub.
I asked the friendly young woman at the pub if they had any Earl Grey tea.
She said they had nothing like that, insinuating that I had asked for something fancy and that they served only black tea.
The musty pub smelled strongly of beer, so I gave up on the idea of any tea and we kept on walking.
All day, we walked by vines loaded with ripe blackberries which I ate along the way, as well as fallen ripe chestnuts which were delicious, and sweet and tart crabapples and rose hips, so I cannot complain about the lack of food.
The path was truly beautiful, and it was easy to take our minds off the difficulties of walking all day, by admiring the farmland scenery before us.
By the end of the day, we were so delighted to be off our feet.
The lady who checked us into our guesthouse urged us not to take off our shoes at the door, a habit that I don’t understand.
Just like in Japan, I prefer to take off my shoes before entering any home.
We explained that our shoes were full of mud from walking on farmland and footpaths all day, and that we did not want to dirty her carpets.
Our guesthouse turned out to be a lovely country house with a large clean and nice smelling room, with a hot shower and soft towels.
We showered, washed our pants, which were covered in mud on the bottoms, and rubbed tiger balm on our feet.
We asked about the food options for dinner.
The lady told us that the local pub, which used to serve meals, had recently closed down, but fortunately there was an Indian restaurant about a mile away.
To walk two miles back and forth in the dark countryside just to eat dinner, did not sound like a good idea to me, but Jules seemed to be hungry.
The lady offered to drive us there, but as it turned out, the place offered home delivery.
We placed an order and ate it in our room, which had a separate seating area with a long bench which served as our dining table.
Tonight I am achy from carrying my backpack and from walking without any rest all day.
I hope that I will get into better shape soon…
Tomorrow we walk to Dover.
We plan to walk around Dover to see the castle and the famous white Diver cliffs,, and then take the ferry to Calais in France, just across the English Channel.
We plan to do some sightseeing in Calais and spend the night there.
Talk to you soon and warm blessings,
8 hours of walking (9am-5pm)
Active walking time – 7.2 hours
Daily Steps – 40,930
Daily Kilometers – 30
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury – 30
Canterbury to Whitfield
Accommodation: Rolles Court, on Church Whitfield Rd, Whitfield