Not the Via Francigena to Rome. Not yet. That begins in Canterbury. Today is the first day of the Chaucer Way, which will take us from central London to Canterbury. It’s a modest 17 kilometer day, taking us from Westminster Abbey to Southwark Cathedral—the historic start for a pilgrimage to Canterbury—to Greenwich and to our rest stop for the night in Blackheath.
Not surpringly, it is an entirely urban walk, densely packed with buildings and people. We pass through crowded tourist destinations till arriving at Southwark Cathedral, a beautiful Gothic refuge. From there, the crowds dissipate as we walk the Thames Path. Old brick warehouses converted into upscale residences give way to modest traditional row houses and apartments. Families and couples are out for an afternoon promenade on the Thames-side path. Then Greenwich appears, along with crowds of tourists. There is the Royal Observatory, the Naval College and the Cutty Sark to explore. Instead, we honour the walker’s world with a subterranean tramp through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. It take us, as it has workers for over a century, under the Thames from Greenwich to Canary Wharf on the opposite side of the river.
It has been a busy start to our pilgrimage. Time for dinner and a meal at Blackheath’s Princess of Wales pub.