Day 1 London to Woolwich – The Thames

“The Thames is liquid history”

John Burns

Well we did it, we’ve finally begun. We are on Pilgrimage.

We were in no hurry to leave this morning. A final ritual remained before I felt I could leave on this journey.

The route from London to Canterbury is know by many names, but it is most commonly called Becket’s way (see History Bits). The route became the top pilgrimage route to Canterbury and was immortalized by Chaucer in “The Canterbury Tales”. The pilgrims in this epic start their journey at Southwark Cathedral on the south bank of the Thames River….and so should we.

So we arranged to attend another Eucharist service and we were offered another pilgrims blessing. We also received our second Stamp. Those that have offered us these blessings, at our home church Revo, St Paul’s, and Southwark likely don’t realize how much they mean to us. We are so grateful.

Canon Andrew Zihni offering us a pilgrim blessing at Southwark
Canon Andrew Zihni
Southwark is a true Pilgrimage Cathedral in its Architecture (ask me if interested).

Then off we went in the growing heat of the day; our first step was documented as is now our tradition.

Literally our first step.
Madeline and Allison

The route today was bathed in the influence and history of the Thames River. The dockyards of the mighty British Empire, the HMS Belfast, the launch point of the Mayflower, the Cutty Sark Clipper ship and Prime Meridian of the world at Greenwich all lie along the banks of the river known as the “Artery of the Empire”.

For 70% of the day we zig-zagged along the Thames Path, only occasionally blocked by construction or commercial enterprise. The River was alive with ships, tourist boats and pleasure craft; the sound of seagulls competing with the industrial noises of this living city of London.

Even though the day was hot (by English standards) we were well enough in shade to make the walk pleasant. Walking however was difficult only because of the combined effect of two weeks at home without hiking, and a week in quarantine. I’m glad this was a short day.

We stopped for a picnic lunch in the shade of a Catholic Church steps after stopping in a market for some supplies. The “hit” of my lunch was a guacamole condiment. That stuff was quite good and had a little kick to it.


After lunch we only had a bit of walking left before we arrived at our hotel for the night, still in the London suburb Woolwich. Next began the routine which will be repeated without a break for most of this trek (shower, wash clothes, hang them out to dry, head off for a beer or wine and dinner). More on that at another time.

A reward at day’s end.

Well, that’s it. It was a beautiful day and an excellent start. Getting to know my cousin Madeline and of course spending time with my wife is precious. Actually starting this journey after 3 years of planning is surreal.

I am happy.

Published by

Mark Dowty

"An Intentional Life"

20 thoughts on “Day 1 London to Woolwich – The Thames”

  1. We are happy that we can accompany you on your way in this way. 2 pilgrimage blessings at the beginning of the pilgrimage. Be blessed. We look forward to the next reports.
    Heike and Gerhard


  2. Looking forward to following your journey – thankyou for setting up this page – will be making notes as you go hoping to make this journey myself in a few years.


  3. Looking forward to following your journey – thankyou for setting up this page – will be making notes as you go hoping to make this journey myself in a few years.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It was a joy and delight to bless you on your way at Southwark Cathedral as you began your pilgrimage to Rome. Be assured of continuing prayers as you journey on. Every blessing!

    Liked by 1 person

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