Day13 Tournehem sur la Hem to Wisques – An Abbaye

This was supposed to be a long day, but we woke feeling a bit off (not sick or anything, but just still tired). Our packs just felt heavier today. It’s hard to explain.

Despite this, we marched on. After a couple miles, we ran across this Roman soldier. I have to admit I was momentarily depressed at how short of a distance we’d covered. It certainly felt like we accomplished more than this. Then I remembered we’d started in London and not Canterbury. It makes more sense now.


Normally when we are dragging, it is the result of poor diet, not enough water, or just plain old hunger. We both admitted the lack of water the previous day could be the culprit, but just in case we broke into some leftover snack bars and dried apricots. Well, ….nope, that didn’t help.

There was only one thing to do…find a bakery for a chocolate croissant. Just our luck, few were to be found, but eventually we did find one. And oh, what a find! They had some eclairs that were outstanding. We shared one chocolate and one cafe’ flavored one. Wow! They were so good, in fact, that we devoured them and went back for two more. I’m telling’ ya folks, one of the great joys of walking these big walks is the ability to have two cream-filled eclairs with absolutely no guilt whatsoever!!

Mr. and Mrs Longshadow, good friends from our Spanish Caminos, joined us today!

Well satisfied and a little rested, the day got better from that point. We walked through the small town of Leulinghem. As we passed the church, a man in an adjacent yard hailed Allison to tell her that the church was open. The church of Saint Maurice was simple, but nice. It had a beautiful painting of Joan of Arc on one wall made by the monks in Wisque a few miles away.

Joan of Arc

By the way, at this church we discovered a website called Openchurches.EU It lists churches that are open for viewing and a little about them.

Funny story. The church was open but had a fence-like gate over the entrance (to keep birds and other animals out). This gate was meant to be closed when you leave. Allison however pulled the gate closed – clink – latch, uh-oh. The gate was now latched from the outside and we were locked in.

Looking around there were several skeletons lying around and I realized this was clearly a trap. <just kidding>. Although we couldn’t reach the latch with our hands, I was able to use the strap on our hiking poles to hook around the latch and release us! It was a McGyver moment – trust me.

After escaping from certain death, we decided to call it a short day having walked only 10.7mi and stop at the town of Wisques. Wisques has both a monastery and a convent (the Abbeys of St Paul and Notre Dame). The monastery accepts only male guests. The convent accepts only female guests but it also has a separate house for couples.

So after a morning of hills and chills (the wind was strong and chilly throughout the day whenever the sun went behind a cloud or we walked in the shade), we stopped by the Abbeye Notre Dame. We seemed to have arrived at lunch time and much to our surprise we were invited to sit down and eat. The food was simple but so good.

After lunch, we were escorted to our beds for the night in a separate house. We did our arrival routine (showers and washing) and sat in the sun relaxing in the quiet of the Abbaye. It was really nice.

Our room

We attended Vespers sung in Latin by the nuns (who you could not see of course). I don’t think I’ve ever attended a vespers service. It was beautiful, but also made me sleepy.

Vespers….it’s all about the music/prayer.
Relaxing in the sun.

Following vespers we chatted with Sister Lucy and gave her a Key for the wonderful hospitality the nuns had shown us.

Sister Lucy and her Key.

Our evening ended with dinner. At lunch two lovely ladies from France had joined us. They were both spending several days at the Abbaye to find some peace in their lives. They helped as interpreters through the day, and we had some good and fun conversations. Elia and Chloe were spending today doing every thing the nuns were doing so they were very busy.

Elia and Chloe – our interpreters at the Abbaye

Published by

Mark Dowty

"An Intentional Life"

3 thoughts on “Day13 Tournehem sur la Hem to Wisques – An Abbaye”

  1. Very fond memories of my convent stay in Estella, Monasterio San Benito. Vespers was a beautiful experience. “En mi corazon”, departing words from one of the nuns, remain with me…still.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Une très grande joie de vous avoir rencontré, vous êtes de magnifiques personnes ! Nous pensons à vous et nous espérons que le reste de votre voyage vous apportera beaucoup de bonheur. 😀 ! Chloé et Elia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merci Beaucoup. Rappelez-vous toujours que vous êtes aimé. Nous nous souviendrons avec émotion de vous et de notre visite à Wisque. Si jamais vous visitez les États-Unis, vous pouvez rester avec nous si vous le souhaitez.


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