‘Our next challenge is to walk the 1200 miles from Canterbury to Rome, The Via Francigena.
Via Francigena is the ancient route from Canterbury to Rome, followed by archbishops travelling to receive from the pope their symbols of authority as well as ordinary pilgrims en route to Rome or onward to Jerusalem. It was originally described by Archbishop Sigeric in AD990 and his route has been adopted by the Council of Europe Institute of Cultural Routes as the definitive way from Canterbury to Rome. Today people of all ages and beliefs enjoy the physical challenge of this 1,200 mile journey. Starting at Canterbury Cathedral the entire journey will take approximately 12 weeks on foot, based on an average of between 15 and 25 miles per day. Crossing England, France, Switzerland and Italy you will climb to heights above 8,000 feet and be exposed to a wide range of weather conditions. You can obtain a Via Francigena passport which will be stamped at the Information Centre in the cathedral precincts. The Via Francigena starts beside the south porch of Canterbury Cathedral at the kilometre zero stone. Pilgrim Passports are stamped at the Information Centre in the Cathedral Precincts.
It will have to be in stages due to work but thought we’d crack on and make a start this coming summer. We have changed our original plans to accommodate the start of this Pilgrimage. We had already booked a navigation (map reading) course in the Peak District for a weekend. Originally we thought this would be interesting and might encourage us to venture further away from our familiar routes. As it turns out now, we feel it will be a great help whilst walking the Via Francigena as it’s not a popular route like the Camino de Santiago, that you could almost walk with your eyes shut. This route isn’t well signposted and has no support en-route until you reach Switzerland, where it appears more people are aware of the returning interest in this route. So its going to be map in hand all the way.
So it begins:
We joined the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome http://www.pilgrimstorome.org.uk Lots of useful information and obtained our ‘Pilgrim Credential‘.
The Pilgrim Credential The Pilgrim Credential (also known as Pilgrim Passport or Pilgrim Record) is a certificate of bona fide pilgrim status, and is normally required if you wish to stay in refugios/monasteries. It is stamped at the beginning of your journey, and daily at Churches, Town Halls, Tourist Offices, hotels, bars etc along the way. Pilgrim records are made available only to walkers, cyclists, and pilgrims on horseback. As well as being proof of pilgrim status, many find it is a valuable souvenir and memory of their journey.
Stage One PLANNING
This ‘Pilgrimage’ we feel needs lots of planning, so last Sunday we spread the map of Europe out, the map of Northern France out together with a guide-book and set about working a route out for the first ten days through Northern France. On the up side this is a region we know well and have visited many times (by car) so there is a certain amount of familiarity to it. However, it turned out to be harder than expected, we have two options to walk and stop at the same points recommended by a few others or to walk at our chosen distances which seem to be a tad further each day, this proved quite problematic as so far there appears to be no accommodation at these points. So our current thinking is to stick roughly with the suggested stops and have a couple of easier shorter days, which will bring us up just short of Rheims.
|Arrive in Canterbury||Falstaff|
|Day 1||Canterbury – Dover||Premier Inn||20|
|Day 2||Calais – Guines||Campsite La Bien Assise firstname.lastname@example.org||12|
|Day 3||Guines – Seninghem||Chambres d’hotes Evasion 9 Bis Route Nationale Hameau de la Raiderie, 62380 Seninghem||18.5|
|Day 4||Seninghem – Blessy||Le Paddock du Val de Lys 885 Rue des Prés 62120 BLESSY http://www.lepaddockduvaldelys.fr||18|
|Day 5||Blessy – Houdain||Gites des Collines d’Artois 99, Place de la Gare, 62150 Houdain||18|
|Day 6||Houdain – Arras (St Nicolas)|| Chambres d’hotes La Cour des Grands
5 Rue Anatole 62223 St Nicolas
|Day 7||Arras – Bapaume|| Hotel de la Prix
11 Avenue Abel Guidet 62450 Peronne
|Day 8||Bapaume – Peronne|| Fasthotel Relais
Route de Paris 80200 Peronne
|Day 9||Peronne – Trefcon||La Val D’Omignon 3 Rue Principale, 02490 Trefcon||12|
|Day 10||Trefcon – Tergnier|| Auberge De Villequier
126 Rue De St Quentin 02300 Villequier-Aumont
|Day 11||Tergnier – Laon|| Hotel De La Banniere De France
11 Rue Franklin Roosevelt
|Day 12||Train – Laon to Calais|
The ironic thing about this 11 day walk is the train back to Calais only takes about 5 hours No idea why the ‘Day’ is small and others large, can’t get it to change !!
Over the last couple of days I have been searching for accommodation in Northern France, have looked through lots of sites but time and time again coming back to Booking.com which has worked well. I have to say I am impressed with the response from the owners of the accommodation we have selected.
All the accommodation is B & B and most away from any restaurants for evening meals, so I have added a request to each booking to see if a simple meal would be available for an additional charge. ALL have emailed back and they are more than happy too for a small charge. Some have even offered to pick us up if we get tired walking and another, as he is the wrong side of the very busy A26 motorway is going to come and pick us up & drop us back to our finishing village of the day… how nice is that… he did it for some Pilgrims last year too.