We had a really mixed day today. We woke up early from our campsite and quickly packed our tent and gear, fully dressed for more rain.
The path out of Guines was muddy after the previous day’s rains and our progress toward lunch at Licques was slow. We were further slowed by the changing conditions requiring us to put on and take off layers multiple times throughout the day. As a result, the 10mi to Licques seemed long.
Licques however was a pleasant surprise. As we emerged from the woods the village Abbey (outsized by far for the small town), dominated the landscape. The village itself sits on a hill and by the time we arrived a wind was whipping around the square like a Tasmanian Devil. It was cold enough that I put on all my layers.
My work colleague, Emmanuel, and his lovely wife Isabel live near Paris and drove several hours to have lunch with us, walk the afternoon with us and treat us to dinner. It was so nice to spend the afternoon and evening with them. Actually Isabel took a day trip to Calais while the three of us hiked – but she joined us for lunch and dinner.
The wind died down after lunch, eventually the sun came out, and the day began to warm. Walking with Emmanuel was fun and we all walked the same pace which was nice.
The Via took a strange twist near the town of Audenfort. This was one of those strange points where the path seems to make three sides of a rectangle to avoid a short section of road. Normally we might forgo the longer path, but this time we kept true to the Via. On this occasion it would have been smarter to do the logical thing. The last leg of that rectangle turned out to be so overgrown it was impassable. To avoid a long return route, we scrambled up an embankment and took a parallel path through a cornfield. Remember, I mentioned it was windy?
Well the whipping wind was having its way with the corn stalks, and as we passed through the field we were beaten by several of the stalks. It didn’t hurt, but the ferocity of the beating made me laugh.
The most beautiful site of the day was the partially rebuilt ruin of Chapelle St Louis. It was perched atop a hill overlooking the countryside. I think we all would had preferred to linger there longer but the day was dragging on and we needed to get to the finish line of the 20mi day and get our clothes drying.
The last mile into Tournehem sur la Hem was easily 3miles long. That’s always the way at the end of a long walk. But the cute village had one last treat for us. “sur la Hem” part of the name means “on the Hem” where the Hem is a small river. Approaching town the crossed a small bridge that clearly once held a mill. It was a peaceful setting that was enhanced by the nearby remains of the town wall and gate
Closing note…this beer had a turkey wearing a pilgrim hat. No idea why, but as a pilgrim I had to have it. It was local from Licques – pretty good actually.