2014: Hunting for a South Downs Pilgrimage

Will on the Way

Will Parsons

A Winter Pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury…with no money.

This summer we mapped a new version of the classic North Downs Pilgrims’ Way, an update necessary to avoid the M25 motorway sections. We hoped this might help renew interest in Britain’s oldest pilgrimage route. Watch our short video Here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb1xKjTkwqU)

This Autumn/Winter we are going a step further – we’re swapping the Downs.

From Winchester to Canterbury we will follow the South Downs, Britain’s newest National Park. It will be indirect and wiggley, taking three weeks to complete. But we don’t want to miss all the good stuff that lies a mere handful of miles off the official South Downs Way path.

Being almost winter on the hilltops by the sea, there will be mixed weather, so sleeping outside and cooking on fires will be interesting. We’re also walking off without any money, except what we pick up singing local traditional songs. It bodes well for a strong pilgrimage.



the path a heartbeat

Anyone wishing to walk or sing along, please get in touch through the website. SEe below for our (approximate) route plan and timings.

Our Itinerary

Fri 24 Oct – Arrive Winchester.

Sat 25 Oct– Winchester. Dole from Hospital of St Cross.

Sun 26 Oct – St Mary’s Itchen Stoke. Source of River Itchen. Milbury well singing. Old Winchester Hill.

Mon 27 Oct – The Sustainability Centre. Source of River Meon. The Hangers. Harrow Inn, Steep.

Tues 28 Oct– Petersfield. Beacon Hill. Kingley Vale Yew Forest.

Wed 29 Oct – Chichester. Devil’s Ditch.

Thurs 30 Oct – Trundle Hillfort. Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.

Fri 31 Oct – DAY OF REST – Slindon Church

Sat 1 Nov – Arundel. Water Dragon of Lyminster.

Sun 2 Nov – Washington. Chanctonbury Ring. St Botolphs Pilgrim Church.

Mon 3 Nov – Fulking spring. Chattri War Memorial.

Tues 4 Nov –Brighton

Wed 5 Nov – Rotingdean, Kipling & Copper family. Lewes Fireworks.

Thurs 6 Nov – Glyndebourne, Mount Caburn, Firle.

Fri 7 Nov – DAY OF REST.

Sat 8 Nov – Alfriston, Cuckmere Valley, Seven Sisters.

Sun 9 Nov – Remembrance in Eastbourne, Towner Gallery, Pevensey Levels.

Mon 10 Nov – Ashburnham Place.

Tues 11 Nov – Battle, Hastings.

Wed 12 Nov – Winchelsea, Rye, Stone in Oxney.

Thurs 13 Nov – Saxon Shore.

Fri 14 Nov – Hythe, St Leonard’s Crypt, Elham Valley

Sat 15 Nov – Canterbury – St Martins, St Augustines, Cathedral. Walk to Sea. End.
Please follow our progress, songs, discoveries and meetings through:

This Website, Facebook & Twitter




17 Responses to “2014: Hunting for a South Downs Pilgrimage”

  1. Jason says:

    Gents, you are an inspiration.


  2. Geoffrey Rose says:

    Dear Guy

    You will soon be in Canterbury and at St Martins church. Look over the little gate in the churchyard wall and you will see St Martin’s Priory. where I grew up.

    If you come upon the grave of Rosa May Cave, do stop and say a prayer for her. She was our greatly loved family nanny who looked after me right from birth and stayed on with the family for many years, until her death.

    I look forward to seeing you again quite soon now.


  3. Anne says:

    Oh awesome! You sing!!! :D
    Just watched your YouTube clip and you sang ‘He who would valiant be’, in brill harmony too. I sang this often – especially when I got lost – as well as other songs, but as I was alone, no one to harmonise with.

    A pilgrimage isn’t like a walk. It’s different. It’s a pity more people don’t go on pilgrimage.

    May you walk safely, meet kindly people, sing often and have lots of fun.


  4. Anita says:

    Following your pilgrimage from the wilds of West Gippsland Australia. Your wanderings our helping us map out a holiday route for our UK break in September/November 2015. Have just put Arundel now on our itinerary. Keep well on your journey and will look forward to new posts. Cheers. Anita

  5. Belinda Thompson says:

    Blessings Gentlemen …
    WONDEROUS Weavings … Am so with you in the spirit of the South Downs …an IDILLIC childhood spent riding wild on horse back ….
    Soonest …love light . & sonorous sound …
    Belinda BE XXXXXX

  6. Polly Pearshouse says:

    May the road rise with you ……..

  7. Damian McCrudden says:

    What a superb itinerary. Sussex is looking very beautiful in its autumnal shades and Lewes bonfire is a glorious anarchic celebration of freedom. Keep your progress updated on the website and I will hopefully bump in to you on your meanderings and bring you cake.

  8. Brendan Dunne says:

    Looking forward to hearing your beautiful songs
    May the road rise with you!

  9. Anne says:

    Good luck and enjoy! :)

    I’ve just finished Winchester to Canterbury on my own, often getting very close to motorways! It was a wonderful experience. And weirdly, one thing I really enjoyed was standing on bridges over motorways watching traffic thundering along, before I set off on leafy paths again.

    I ‘cheated’ though – did it as 14 separate walks, coming home and sleeping in my own bed :)

    Keep warm and well, and good travelling.


  10. Collin Bleak says:

    Best wishes for this winter display of Pilgrim Power. May your feet be light, your bodies warm, and your spirits lifted in songs unadorned…

  11. Angela Plowman says:

    May your Winter Pilgrimage be truly blessed, Will, Guy and Holly. Loved the video and did you notice the green orbs at the end? (Or some sceptics might say it was reflected light but I absolutely believe it was orbs!) Stay safe and have a wonder-filled journey.

  12. Ambrose Cornfield says:

    Really rather fascinating. The landscape of Pilgrimage has always seemed like ancient history, and yet here we are,in the 21st century, watching Pilgrims traverse the land, while we join in at home. In a sense the act has been expanded by the technology.

    With our fast paced car culture, this could be just what’s needed to balance the pace of life in this land.

    God bless!

  13. Satina Bolegue says:

    When you guys get cold at night, do you have to snuggle up for warmth? Or does the dog do the job?

  14. Roger Dickens says:

    How do you walk to the sea from Canterbury in a day, if you wish to spend time in the Cthedral etc ?

    • Branching Arts says:

      We headed north to Whitstable, along the Crab and Winkle cycle track, through Clowes Woods. We stoped but briefly in the Church of Ss Damien and Cosmo, the Arab doctors who performed the first successful leg transplant, and who famously worked without charging money. We arrived in Whitstable after dark, which made the swirling water even more chilly.

  15. Roger Dickens says:

    Love it guys, handsome photos too! hAVE YOU CONSIDERED TELEVISION? Best of British with this and the wider project, and sure we’ll meet on the pathway somewhere!

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