The program will focus on creating an environment for reflection in order to deepen your connection with God. This retreat is open to people of every demographic. A typical day will look like this:
Morning: Pilgrims usually rise shortly after daybreak to enjoy the crisp morning air. We will begin the day with a short facilitated meditation on the inspirational theme for the day followed by an orientation for the hike ahead. Breakfast will then be on your own, based on your own needs and desired departure time. The morning will be spent walking, with rests and lunch along the way.
Afternoon: After walking 4-6 hours (averaging 25 km each day), you will arrive at your overnight destination sometime in early to mid-afternoon. Everyone is permitted to walk at their own pace, with or without a companion. Afternoons will be spent showering, resting, journaling or doing laundry. Before dinner, you will have the opportunity to debrief the day with the group over drinks, if desired.
Evening: You may choose to eat dinner with our cohort, a smaller group, or on your own. Afterward, there will be an optional brief meditation before bedtime.
The program above describes a typical day and the opportunities that will be available to you. While we hope you will participate in some of the group sessions to enrich the experience of others, it is not required because we realize that every person’s pilgrimage is unique. Each person comes with different questions, hopes and needs. We want to respect and honor where each person is at. The intent of the program is to provide a basic rhythm that pilgrims can follow as desired.
London’s Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury on the Pilgrims’ Way
This trail was originally a Roman road used by Londoners to get to Canterbury as well as visitors from abroad who arrived at Dover. The starting point in London would always be Southwark Cathedral at the south end of London Bridge because this is where pilgrims would stay overnight in order to make an early departure at first light. In fact, Archbishop Thomas Becket stayed in Southwark just weeks before his dramatic murder in Canterbury which sparked the centuries of pilgrimage now being revived.
The route passes by the ruins of Lesnes Abbey, which is dedicated to the saint. After Dartford many pilgrims turned south to join the Winchester–Canterbury Pilgrims’ Way at Otford and down the Darenth Valley where Archbishop Becket held land and first fell out with the king. It intersects with the road to Rochester, an optional detour, before continuing southeast through the Kent Downs and on to Canterbury.