Statistics: 11.1 miles, ascent 882′ descent 713′
Directly across the street from our hotel was the ruin of the Canterbury Castle, originally erected in 1066 as a wooden motte and bailey structure. The castle and its keep were rebuilt of stone between 1086 and 1120. In the 13th-century the castle became a prison and remained so until 1609, when it was abandoned and fell into ruin. In 1825 the ruin was purchased to act as a coal storage facility, destroying most of the remaining interior walls. As it stands today, the keep is 80′ high, the third highest in England after Rochester and Dover Castles.
Leaving Canterbury at an early hour proved to be a great idea. The streets were deserted, giving us plenty of opportunity to see the city more clearly.
Near the city’s eastern gate we passed more ruins; these were of the St. Augustine Abbey, a Benedictine monastery founded in 598 and closed in 1538 during the English Reformation by the Protestant government.
Having left Canterbury behind, we were once again in wide-open farmland among fields of barley, wheat, broad beans, rapeseed, and apples. As we dropped in on the village of Patrixbourne we were delightfully surprised by this charming little community and particularly, two interesting structures, the Lion Cottage and the Elephant Cottage. The Elephant Cottage had apparently been integrated with an oasthouse.
Just around the corner from this cottage as we proceeded through Patrixbourne was the Norman St. Mary’s Church, known for its elaborate south door and Swiss and Flemish stain glass windows.
The fields were laden with daisies as we left the village.
And the path continued on with an array of poppies.
The NDW and the Pilgrim’s Way were still using on the same trail, as denoted by this distinctive sign.
Womenswold was another tiny hamlet sprinkled with thatched, well-kept cottages.
We enjoyed the village and would have stopped to have a cup of tea, but did not find any such shop.
Approached our destination for this day, Shepherdswell, our B&B host for this evening, Mike, picked us up alongside the trail as we had previously arranged. He delivered us to the Brambles B&B, in Lower Eythorne where he and his wife, Claire, ran a top-notch bed and breakfast. What a treat it was to walk into our lovely bedroom and find a freshly baked loaf of lemon bread!
Shortly, there was a knock on the door and Mike asked if we would want to ride along into the village of Sandwich. He needed to do some grocery shopping, and we could come along for a little sightseeing if we wished. Of course, we could not pass up that opportunity!
Upon returning to the B&B, Mike took us across the street to the 13th-century St. Peter and St. Paul Church where he was one of the church’s regular bell ringers! The short tour he provided was fascinating, with many historical insights. During WWII a German doodlebug blew out a good portion of the church’s stain glass windows.
At the B&B, our delightful afternoon was topped off with a sumptuous dinner of a cold plate array as the entre and a mouth-watering dessert, all prepared by Mike and Claire!