Saint Omer to Arras

It was raining harder when I reached the crossroads in Wisques. I turned off the route and headed along a busy road across open fields into the nearby town of St Omer. Why? Because I craved shelter: there might be a hotel and they make beer, don’t they? I was ready, already, to go off piste!

I was also worried by repeated hobbling and a back and shoulders that were complaining under the weight of the backpack. I booked into the most French-looking hotel within 500 metres the helpful woman in the Tourist Information could find.

Hotel Les Frangins, Saint Omer

Hotel Les Frangins, Saint Omer

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Tournehem-sur-la-Hem and Wisques

It isn’t that far from Licques to Tournehem-sur-la-Hem but the route takes me over one ridge and back up and along another, adding several miles. From the top of Le Mont Saint-Louis, I am mocked by views of Calais I thought I’d left so far behind.

La Chapelle de Guémy on top of Le Mont Saint-Louis, ancient and ruined, to which a coach party of even older pilgrims than I struggled.

La Chapelle de Guémy on top of Le Mont Saint-Louis, ancient and ruined, to which a coach party of even older pilgrims than I struggled.

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Calais, Guînes et Licques

Canals

We stay the night in Calais, in one of those slightly desperate station hotels, and set off the next morning direct to Guînes along two canals. Who, from amongst those future thinkers, is going to come up with canals, after trams and bicycles, as a great, green transport solution – somewhat more of a boon to the environment than a flight path? Here, little chalets settle along the canal banks, as they don’t beside a motorway, each individualised in ways both eccentric and banal.

Canal out of Calais

Canal out of Calais

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Doing the Hokey Cokey!

The last thing I do before I leave for Rome, is write this post…

Doing the Hokey Cokey

Readers of my last post may recall the fuss surrounding a slight injury to the Achilles of my left foot. Subsequent to that, silence fell, the Dark Ages descended: I couldn’t quite bring myself to offer detail of the tedium of waiting for this foot to get better.

Well, it’s better, if not best. I’m still conscious of it, it aches a bit after walking, but I have come to the belief that I can go. There is no certainty it won’t let me down but I can’t wait; I don’t want to be crossing the Alps in October or arriving in Rome in December. If it won’t work, then so be it; I shall return in the spring. I will do this thing!

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My Whole World Turns Misty Blue!

This post is about fitness to walk, getting fit to walk 2000 kilometres, and how so much effort and achievement can come crashing down. It’s two days before I am supposed to leave for Canterbury to start the walk …

… And I can Hardly Put One Foot in Front of the Other!

A week before I leave for Canterbury to begin the walk, I’m on the train for Winchester to spend the week-end walking the start of the South Downs Way. It’s a final practice ‘before the balloon goes up’. PT Lance has been my personal trainer. Each of my failures to date has inspired from him another appeal: ‘warm up / eat carbs’ / and, the latest, ‘sleep’. I spend all of Thursday night awake, transfixed by the referendum – I don’t / can’t sleep – and the next day I’m desperately late to walk. Continue reading

Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my blog about a walk from Canterbury to Rome along the Via Francigena from July to October 2016!

Unlike some blogs about walking the Via Francigena, this will be as much about the journey that takes place in my head, as physically across the ground! Some of the posts will be of interest to those considering undertaking such a walk themselves; some will be as much about the books and ideas I come across.

I will attempt (through titles and introductions) to give you some idea of what to expect, so you can skip the entries that don’t interest you. Unless, you are my family (or I am holding yours hostage), you probably won’t want to read them all!

Enjoy!