Canterbury Pilgrimage

On the 25th to the 27th of July a group of explorer and network scouts set off on an intrepid 3-day pilgrimage from Rochester to Canterbury around 60km braving the scorching summer heatwave with only what we carried on our backs with the goal of reaching spiritual enlightenment (evaluating our beliefs) and sign off our values for our Queen scout award. On top of the audacious hike we were set a series of amazing reflective and enlightening challenges by the one and only Brian Eastman and Luke Winstanley!

We started off our trek at Rochester Castle, a very beautiful castle with lots of interesting history as well as a few decapitated pigeon carcases swaying in the breeze, 10/10 would recommend! The castle was also a great way to avoid the midday heat during the hottest day of the year!!!  We reached Aylesford priory later than planned due to the intenseness of our hike so unfortunately the priory had close. We could still look around the main area and found the visitation (one of our challenges) as well as being blessed with a beautiful reading by Joe Fox and some insightful analysis of what a visitation might be by Caitlin Pitt. We settled down for the evening with lots of pizza, an hour of silent reflection and a profound discussion on life after death…

We awoke to, not the sound of birds singing in the morning sunlight, but the dark, dewy field and the noise of Elphaba defying gravity: it was 5am and we had set out to beat the blistering July heat! We endured a very long and arduous second day. Despite our valiant efforts we could not avoid the inevitable heat however we were blessed by many god-like Pub and Tea shop owners who gifted us with water and kind words of encouragement. We arrived after a long trek (and possibly a train ride too  ) at our second campsite where we set up our tents and did a soul healing session of yoga, we became at one with the earth through the means of downward dog and at peace with the sky through none other than a sun salutation!

Our last day was short but by this time many of the party had incurred some nasty blisters making the final stretch more difficult than ever but we persevered stopping off for some much needed TLC whilst filming probably the most rigorous stained glass window analysis you have ever had the pleasure of hearing! At last by lunch time we reached our finishing point: Canterbury cathedral and I can promise you it is everything you could ever imagine and more! With insane architecture, perfect harmonious choir singers and a beast of an organ it was worth the 3-day crawl. If you thought the cathedral was enough to make this pilgrimage insane we also got the pleasure of seeing the local gangster strut past banging his tunes out not once by 3 times in half an hour, which was a pleasure. To finish our trip we attended the free Evensong service which was such an amazing experience not to mention getting invited as pilgrims to go down the restricted staircase to the crypt to receive a blessing which goes without saying was pretty awesome! Absolutely knackered and slightly broken but definitely more informed and spiritually enlightened than before we finished our pilgrimage, then it was time to do the laundry and head off to Slovenia!

Katie Sexton

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