Take The Way of St. Augustine and discover the beautiful Kentish countryside, where Christianity first came to the English people. Walk between the Shrine of St. Augustine, Ramsgate, and Canterbury Cathedral, both places of immense cultural, historical, and religious significance.
The walk is about 19 miles long, so can be walked in a day or comfortably split into two days. Public transport
along the way makes it possible to do the walk in parts too. The route is flat, so not too challenging for social or family walks.
The route can be walked in either direction. Going from St. Augustine’s to Canterbury Cathedral, it marks the route St. Augustine and his Companions would have taken after they landed on Thanet, met King Ethelbert, and were given permission by King Ethelbert to settle in Canterbury. The Wantsum Channel has silted up in the centuries since, but the walk takes you along land that St. Augustine crossed by boat.
The other direction resembles the traditional pilgrim route from Santiago in Spain to Finisterre. St. James, who evangelised Spain (just as St. Augustine evangelised England), is said to have landed at Finisterre. Later he was executed in Jerusalem, but his body made its ways back to Finisterre and from there to Santiago. Many people who walk to Santiago travel on to the coast, to Finisterre. Ramsgate is England’s Finisterre!
Don’t forget to pick up your Pilgrim Passport
and get it stamped along the way.
Places of note:
- Shrine of St. Augustine, Ramsgate – built by Augustus Pugin in celebration of St. Augustine
- St. Augustine’s Cross – near Cliffsend (English Heritage, free)
- Minster Abbey – the chapel is always open, and it is possible to book tours in advance
- St. Mary’s Church, Minster – an imposing church, once on the sea shore! The church is open daily throughout the year – usually 9am-5pm. There are guided tours on most Saturdays, 12pm and 2pm and by arrangement (please call 07958 813577).
- West Stourmouth Church – book with the CCT to “champ”
- Stodmarsh Church – open to pilgrims
- Fordwich Church – see the “Fordwich Stone”, believed to be part of St. Augustine’s tomb
- The Canterbury World Heritage Site comprising St. Martin’s Church, St. Augustine’s Abbey (English Heritage), and Canterbury Cathedral.
- Eastbridge Hospital, Canterbury – medieval pilgrim accommodation
There are plenty of pubs along the way for you to refresh yourself, including at Fordwich, Stodmarsh, Grove Ferry, Plucks Gutter, and Minster.
When travelling on this route, please tread carefully, leaving nothing but footprints and taking nothing but photographs. Please support local producers and organisations through purchase of local food and souvenirs.
Share your experiences on social media with the hashtag #canpilgrim
Canterbury – Ramsgate
Start at Canterbury Cathedral
. If you show the people on the gate that you are pilgrims they will usually let you in free. Leaving the Cathedral, turn left and head up Burgate. See St. Thomas’s
Catholic Church on your right, where you can see two relics of St. Thomas Becket.
Cross the dual carriageway at the traffic lights, and head up towards St. Paul’s Church
. If you have time, take a short detour to Lady Wootton’s Green to see the impressive Fyndon Gate – once the grand entrance to St. Augustine’s Abbey – and the modern statues of King Ethelbert and Queen Bertha. Follow the road, up Longport, past St. Augustine’s Abbey
and on to St. Martin’s Church
, the oldest continually-used church in the English-speaking world.
Head on along the road at the base of the churchyard, and keeping right, and it eventually becomes a footpath. Don’t miss the Conduit House
on your left that once supplied St. Augustine’s Abbey
and Canterbury Cathedral
Keep following the path through woodland (be careful not to get distracted by occasional other paths!) and then through some meadows as you come to Fordwich – Britain’s smallest town. Take a look at St. Mary’s Church
and perhaps sample the food and drink at either the Fordwich Arms
or The George
At Fordwich you may want to hire a canoe with Canoe Wild
to make the journey to Fordwich by river – a fun way to travel, and in keeping with St. Augustine’s way of transport!
Follow the path out of Fordwich near the church, marked the Stour Valley Walk
, through more woods, up the hill, and where the road forks, take the road that does not fall away to the right. Follow the footpath into a field parallel with the road, rejoin the road a little further along, and enter Stodmarsh. Perhaps have some refreshment at The Red Lion
, and do visit the medieval church.
Follow the footpath again taking a left at the pub, along a lane and through a car park. Be careful not to take a path going straight on, which is a dead end, but follow the path turning right angles to the right then left. After this, you will have a choice: left or right. Heading left will take you along the bank of the River Stour, and is straightforward but winding and takes longer. In winter, this path may be closed due to bank erosion or flooding. Take the right path, which goes behind Newborns Farm, and across the marshes to Grove Ferry. There is the Grove Ferry Inn
here for some more refreshment.
From Grove Ferry, head along the river, through the picnic area, and off across the fields after the boatyard and large house on your left. Eventually you will come to the river, and a footbridge at a pumping station. Cross here, and choose whether to visit Stourmouth. If not, follow the river to Plucks Gutter. If going to Stourmouth, carry straight on with the river behind you.
Go to the pretty little village of Stourmouth to see the little All Saints Church
, or if you’re champing
with the Churches Conservation Trust
. Take the road through the village, heading north and back towards the river, where you will eventually come to the path on the riverbank.
Follow the river to Plucks Gutter, where you can be refreshed at the Dog and Duck
. Cross the river here on the road bridge – take great care and walk on the right. Walk a little further along the road on the north of the river, and take the path that veers obliquely off to the right through the field. This leads you to a long raised medieval earthwork called Abbot’s Wall. Turn right and walk on the path on top of it.
The path turns right and back towards the river, follow it, go along the river, and then take the first left after about a kilometre. This path takes you under the power lines and up towards Minster – spot the church from a long way off. Cross the railway line and turn right. The path becomes a road, and you come into Minster.
Have a look in the medieval parish church of St. Mary’s
if it is open, and carry on east along the main road. See the ancient Minster Abbey
, and head round the corner. The entrance to Minster Abbey is round this corner, and perhaps pay a visit to the chapel there. This is an enclosed community, so please respect the sisters’ way of life, but they are very welcoming and hospitable.
Follow the little road called ‘Durlock’ and back out into the fields. Head towards the railway line, cross it, and turn left, keeping the railway on your left. Carry on, cross a road, keeping the level crossing on your left, and along the path with hedges on its side. Keep going, and go under the large modern road bridge. When you come to St. Augustine’s Golf Course
, turn right along Cottington Road.
Here you will see St. Augustine’s Cross, which marks the traditional landing site of St. Augustine in AD 597. When you reach it, read the interpretation boards and look at the engravings on the cross.
Follow the road, taking great care as there is no pavement. It may be advisable to walk on the field as you go around the long bend. When you come to Foads Lane on your right, turn down there towards the sea. At the end of that road, cross the larger road, and turn left. You will come to the ‘Hugin’ Viking Ship which was rowed to Broadstairs from Denmark in 1949.
Head towards the corner of the car park here, and follow the path on top of the rising cliffs. Enjoy the views over Pegwell Bay, which was once the southern end of the Wantsum Channel which divided the Isle of Thanet from the mainland. You can see on the other side of Pegwell Bay the estuary of the River Stour which is the remnant of the Wantsum Channel.
When you come to the road, turn right and go past the Pegwell Bay Hotel and Sir Stanley Grey pub, and up the hill, making use of the pavement on the left. Cross the road and turn right towards the sea when you come to a large terrace on your right. Go all the way down to the clifftop, and turn left.
The home straight! You may be able to see the stump of St. Augustine’s tower, and The Grange
, as you walk along the clifftop. Enjoy the views over the English Channel, and on a clear day you will be able to see France. Come in to St. Augustine’s, perhaps pray a while, present your intentions to St. Augustine’s intercession, and have a look around this fascinating building.
Pilgrim Passports are ways of collecting stamps from pubs, churches, and other places on the route, as well as helping people identify you as pilgrims on the Way of St. Augustine.
They are available by contacting St. Augustine’s, or at St. Augustine’s itself. We ask for a small donation for these.
Public transport along the route
Both Canterbury and Ramsgate have good bus and railway connections (including to each other).
Railway stations are accessible at Minster and Sturry, as well as Ramsgate and Canterbury. See www.nationalrail.co.uk
for more information.
Buses run between Ramsgate and Canterbury. Buses to both Thanet and Canterbury may be caught at Sturry and Upstreet (near Grove Ferry). Buses for destinations in Thanet are also available in Minster and Plucks Gutter. See www.stagecoachbus.com
for more information.