Find the quieter side of Kent on ancient routes with special meaning to thousands of thoughtful footsteps before you.
What is Pilgrimage?
Pilgrimage is a journey of transformation to a special destination and is practiced by people from many faiths and those of no faith. Whether you are taking time out to remember a loved one, raise money for charity, have a faith purpose or simply to take a break from everyday life…your journey can have special significance to you and be a pilgrimage to wellbeing, your faith, or someone or something important to you. So if you fancy taking a break from it all and walking in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims then Kent offers many routes and peaceful getaways.
Why is Pilgrimage special in Kent?
Kent is rich in pilgrim history and home to Canterbury Cathedral home to one of medieval Europe’s most popular pilgrim destinations. Today Canterbury City retains the cultural legacy of this medieval history. Canterbury Cathedral is the biggest attraction to the district and in fact Kent receiving nearly a million visitors every year. Place names, pilgrims pubs and inns and pilgrim churches abound in Canterbury and throughout Kent. Pilgrims celebrate the ethos of treading with a small carbon footprint by supporting local produce and communities.
Where are Kent’s Pilgrim Routes?
There are five main pilgrim routes in Kent radiating from Canterbury Cathedral.
The North Downs Way pilgrim trail provides a green and easy to follow route from Farnham to Dover with 15 short sections to help mark the way. The Via Francigena is the UK’s only walking European cultural route and also starts in Canterbury before winding through France, Switzerland and Italy on its 1900km route to Rome. The Way of St Augustine is a 19-mile route to retrace the route of St Augustine’s arrival in England from Ramsgate to Canterbury. The Augustine Camino is a privately promoted route from Faversham to Canterbury linking shrines, monasteries, and art associated with St Augustine through beautiful Kent countryside and pubs. The Old Way has been rediscovered by the British Pilgrimage Trust based on a lost pilgrimage route, from Britain’s oldest road map – the Gough map, dated c. 1360. The Royal Saxon Way is a modern route linking Anglo-Saxon pilgrimage sites from Folkestone to Minster via 16 medieval churches. And the Pilgrims Way offers a quiet route to Canterbury from Winchester and London peacefully interlacing with the North Downs Way National Trail.
Which organisations support pilgrimage in Kent?
There are many stakeholders in Kent interested in pilgrimage, its history and its potential to promote economic growth especially in rural regions. Many stakeholders are also interested in the health and wellbeing benefits of pilgrimage and long-distance walking. These stakeholders include the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome, Canterbury City Council, Maidstone Borough Council, Dover and Folkestone District Councils, The British Pilgrimage Trust, Canterbury Cathedral, Visit Canterbury and Canterbury Christchurch University. Many business stakeholders are also interested in making the most of Kent’s pilgrim history to develop modern tourism experiences in a market seeking authentic and unique ways to experience popular destinations. We’ve included more detail below with links to find out more.
Canterbury Cathedral is the destination for those who travel along the pilgrim paths from Winchester and Rochester. It is also the beginning of the route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain and the Via Francigena to Rome. Whatever the reason for your pilgrimage, the Cathedral priests are available throughout the day to offer a pilgrim blessing to those who are setting out and to offer prayers of thanksgiving for those who are arriving. A truly unique experience.
The Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome are a Kent based Charity supporting pilgrims from all walks of life and have an active community from all over the world of pilgrims who just love that pilgrim experience.The Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome are a Kent based Charity supporting pilgrims from all walks of life and have an active community from all over the world of pilgrims who just love that pilgrim experience.
The British Pilgrimage Trust is a charity, formed in 2014, dedicated to renewing pilgrimage in Britain. Their core goal remains to “advance British pilgrimage as a form of cultural heritage that promotes holistic wellbeing, for the public benefit.”
The North Downs Way National Trail trace ancient routes on a modern-day pilgrimage through Surrey to the Kent Coast at Dover. Their website is packed with useful information to help you enjoy one of England’s most accessible trails.