The pilgrim is humble and devout, and human, and charitable, and ready to smile and admire; therefore, he should comprehend the whole of his way, the people in it, and the hills and the clouds, and the habits of the various cities.
It seems as if literary influences and walking trails in England go hand in hand, and the Pilgrims’ Way that stretches for nearly 200km between Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire and Canterbury Cathedral in Kent is no exception. As an ancient byway dating back as far as the Stone Age because of its topography that forms a natural causeway, pilgrims have followed this path to Canterbury since the 12th century in order to pay respects to Saint and martyr Thomas Becket. The fomer Archbishop is enshrined at Canterbury Cathedral, where he was murdered in 1170. The route was brought back to the attention of the travelling public in the 20th century by Anglo-French writer and travel essayist, Hilaire Belloc. Indeed, it is sometimes described as Belloc’s Old Road. The original medieval pilgrims and their colourful stories were, of course, fictionalised in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.