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Pilgrims' Way

Hampshire, Kent, Surrey

214 km / 133 miles
The Pilgrims' Way is an ancient track between Winchester and Canterbury. It is an historic pilgrimage route to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, home of the shrine of the martyred archbishop, St Thomas Becket. For much of its length it is coincident with the St Swithun's or North Downs Ways.

From Winchester the St Swithun's Way seeks to trace the pilgrim routes to Farnham in what is now a busy transport corridor.

From Farnham the Pilgrims' Way is mainly coincident with much of the North Downs Way National Trail. The North Downs Way follows the crest of the southern escarpment of the North Downs or footpaths and tracks along their lower slopes while the Pilgrims' Way often keeps to the springline. There are views over the Weald to the South Downs and several steepish ascents where the ridge is cut by valleys, notably those of the Mole at Box Hill, the Darent at Otford, the Medway at Rochester, and the Stour near Wye.

These routes mostly provides fairly easy walking through woods, over chalk grassland, minor roads and, especially in Kent, through orchards and farmland.

The Cicerone book below by Leigh Hatts describes both a route from Winchester in Hampshire (138 miles) and from London's Southwark Cathedral (90 miles), with an optional spur to Rochester Cathedral. With relatively easy walking on ancient byways, the route from Winchester is presented in 15 stages. The route from Southwark is described in 10 stages and includes a visit to the ruined Lesnes Abbey.

The route's naming varies in using an apostrophe (or none) - as Pilgrims' or Pilgrim's or Pilgrims. The first form is used here for consistency, although "Pilgrim's" is used on Ordnance Survey maps. See the Aurum (Colin Saunders) book (page 24) for more information on this, as well as the history and origins of this route and its extension into Europe, the Via Francigena to Rome.

UPDATE November 2021 - The Cicerone guidebook has been reprinted in 2021 and includes alternative route options between Otford and Kemsing and Boughton Lees and Chilham. Details are also available on the Walking The Pilgrims' Way website.


Path Type: Other Paths
Attributes: Average Gradients
Start: SU482292 - Winchester, Hampshire View on StreetMap
Finish: TR151579 - Canterbury, Kent View on StreetMap
Web Sites: Pilgrims' Way Walking the Pilgrims' Way Jackie McAll - Pilgrims' Way [blog]

Publications, Badges and Certificates:

Guidebook Walking the Pilgrims' Way : to Canterbury from Winchester and London  (Cicerone Press  - 2021 )
Guidebook Pilgrims' Way : from Winchester to Canterbury  (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform  - 2017 )
Guidebook Pilgrim routes of the British Isles  (Crowood Press  - 2016 )
Guidebook North Downs Way: National Trail Guide  (Trails Shop  - 2023 )
Guidebook Exploring the Pilgrims' Way  (Countryside Books  - 1990 )
Guidebook Guide to the Pilgrims' Way and North Downs Way  (Constable and Robinson (an imprint of Little, Brown)  - 1993 )
Guidebook Pub walks along the Pilgrims' Way & North Downs Way  (Countryside Books  - 1998 )
Guidebook Pilgrims' Way : from Winchester to Canterbury  (Canterbury Press  - 1999 )
General Interest Book The Pilgrims' Way : fact and fiction of an ancient trackway  (History Press  - 2011 )
General Interest Book Walking the pilgrim ways  (David & Charles  - 1991 )
External download The "Pilgrim's Way," its antiquity and its alleged medieval use : with special reference to that part of it in the county of Kent  (Kent Archaeological Society  - 1925 ) Download
Other Pilgrim passport  (Dean & Chapter of Canterbury )

Click to showhide 8 more Publications, Badges and Certificates


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Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2016.
© OpenStreetMap contributors under Open Database Licence.
Rights of way data from selected Local Authorities.
Large scale digital mapping is provided by John Thorn.
At high zoom levels the route is indicative only.
Purchase Ordnance Survey Maps:
OS Landranger 177, 178, 179, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189
OS Landranger Active 177, 178, 179, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189
OS Explorer 32, 33, 137, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 163
OS Explorer Active 32, 33, 137, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 163

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Accommodation within 5 km of this Path:

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3 km
80 km
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1 km
92 km
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1 km
214 km

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Route Profile:

213.4 km (132.6 miles)
3,658 m (12,001 ft) ascent
240 m (787 ft)  maximum height

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