Discover ‘champing’ on The Way of St Augustine
21st May 2015
The Way of St Augustine is a new walking route connecting the Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate to historic Canterbury, following in the footsteps (or the wake) of St Augustine from his landing place near Pegwell Bay in AD 597, through the East Kent countryside, to Canterbury, where he established his Cathedral, and became the first Archbishop of Canterbury.
The route has been developed in conjunction with the Shrine of St Augustine the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) and Explore Kent, all working together under the banner of the Green Pilgrimage Network Canterbury Partnership. The Way of St Augustine has been developed to encourage people to explore beyond Canterbury and the traditional pilgrim routes, and to rediscover some of the early Kentish saints, such as St Augustine, and St Mildred, (of Minster Abbey, and an important figure in her own right).
The Way of St Augustine is approximately 17 miles long, and, while it could be done in one day, it would be a very long day! The best way to appreciate the landscape of the Stour valley, and the historic churches (and pubs) along the way is to split the route into two roughly equal halves, stopping overnight at one of the CCT’s churches, the delightful All Saint’s Church at West Stourmouth, where you can be a pioneer of “champing” (church camping).
The route can be walked in either direction and there are also some related itineraries such as a “river pilgrimage” from Sandwich, good local cycle routes, and the possibility of canoeing the route too. Don’t forget to pick up your pilgrim passport at the start of your journey, at the Welcome Centre in Canterbury Cathedral or the Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate, and to get it stamped along the way. Some restaurants are offering a discount for pilgrims on the Way of St Augustine with the passport. Pilgrims are welcome in Canterbury Cathedral free of charge, and blessings and group visits can be arranged through Cathedral House.
Places to visit on the Way of St Augustine:
- Shrine of St Augustine, Ramsgate – built by Augustus Pugin in celebration of St Augustine
- St Augustine’s Cross – near Cliffsend (English Heritage, free)
- Minster Abbey – the chapel is always open, and it is possible to book tours in advance
- St Mary’s Church, Minster – an imposing church, once on the sea shore!
- West Stourmouth Church – book with the CCT to “champ”
- Stodmarsh Church – open to pilgrims
- Fordwich Church – see the “Fordwich Stone”, believed to be part of St Augustine’s tomb
- The World Heritage Site comprising St Martin’s Church, St Augustine’s Abbey (English Heritage), and Canterbury Cathedral.
- Eastbridge Hospital, Canterbury – medieval pilgrim accommodation
There are also pubs and restaurants along the route, at Fordwich, Stodmarsh, Grove Ferry, Pluck’s Gutter, and Minster – perfect for stopping for refreshment!
We ask pilgrims on this route (of all faiths or none) to tread lightly on the Way of St Augustine, and to be as environmentally conscious as possible. Take nothing but footprints and leave nothing but photographs.
Please support local producers of food and souvenirs. And please do share your experiences on social media with the hashtag #CanPilgrim.