Day14 Wisques to Therouanne – Groovin’

When the alarm went off this morning, it was hard to get out of my cozy sleeping bag. Our night at the Abbaye was the quietest night’s sleep we have had so far, and it was wonderful. After finishing our breakfast of fresh bread and homemade jams and fresh coffee (just like there will be heaven), we walked out of the Abbaye grounds onto the VF once again.

Our steps were lively after almost a day of rest at the Abbaye. I highly recommend staying at Abbaye Notre Dame in Wisques where you will be welcomed with smiles and amazingly generous hospitality. Soeur Lucy will make you feel at home. Mark and I both agreed that we felt restored mentally, physically, and spiritually this morning. Yesterday we were dragging our feet, but today we bounce.

We walked through a land of legends. We crossed the Aa River (a favorite of French crossword writers) .

Crossing the Aa.

Next we walked along Brunhilde’s Way. She was a queen in the 7th century and did a lot to restore the roads. She had a famous ferocity, but met a tragic end by being dragged to death behind a horse, tied by her hair.

The Death of Brunhilde

In contrast to the ancient history, we walked past modern marvels as well. Our first up-close encounter with the modern windmills came this morning in Pays de Calais. The stiff breeze today made the morning refreshing up high on the hilltops. Shortly afterwards however, we came across this…no words can describe it, so you just have to watch the video to get an appreciation.

Well, after that “encounter” we finished up the day somewhat uneventfully. However at lunch, a moment transpired that is hard to describe. Sitting on a non-descript bench, next to a cemetery, alongside a country road, in no-where France, it struck me again. “How did we get HERE?” I mean, what in life brought us to be in this place at this moment? We both laughed at how content we were in a situation that few would understand.

But there we were, eating our dry tuna sandwich and partially shriveled green pepper on two-day-old bread, in mildly smelly clothes, on this less than pristine road-side bench. We knew instantly that some/most of our friends wouldn’t necessarily be enjoying this, but for us, it was just a wonderful moment. Pilgrims reading this – you know this feeling of contentment to which I am referring, but to others, you just have to trust me – there is real joy to be found here.

We had covered 21.79 kilometers by noon and surprised ourselves by reaching our end point for the day just 15 minutes after eating lunch. Our pace averaged 4.4 kilometers per hour which is pretty fast for us. We could have continued but the next lodging would have been just as far to walk so we called it a day.

The only lodging choice in Therouanne is the Gite Eden. What a fantastic place. The owners have a passion for helping pilgrims and love their city’s history. We learned from them that the route actually is shorter tomorrow than we’d expected. Alain, the owner of the Gite Eden, helped us book our lodging for the next evening. Just a step outside the door of the gite you can see a market and a bakery. Plus the gite itself has a washer and dryer and a well stocked kitchen. Yup, dinner tonight will be pasta cooked in the kitchen by us. Sometimes cooking for ourselves is such a luxury.

Well folks, that is it for tonight. I have several other videos to share and so much to say, but there is no WiFi here so videos are tough*. I will close with this final picture taken while our laundry was drying, and we had a few moments to explore the nearby church.

I did add a small story about Therouanne in the History Bits page.

* The strength of the Wifi sometimes prohibited the loading of video. However, once home I was able to add to several bits of additional footage.

Published by

Mark Dowty

"An Intentional Life"

11 thoughts on “Day14 Wisques to Therouanne – Groovin’”

  1. Your walk through the fields was much different on this day. It is one of those things that when you are well past it, you may laugh as much as I did.

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  2. I’m so glad to hear that you are walking and stopping where there are some special things like the abbey…even if it isn’t on the “agenda”. It’s the journey not the destination! Pay attention to where God is having you go “off course”.
    Had to laugh about the smelly fields. There was a part of Spain that we walk through that Ken and I had to keep dodging cow poop plops for what seemed like days. It got to be humorous after a while. It’s also one of the places that we re-named, Lord of the Flies. Because of all the cows that were around which drew flies you could barely enjoy eating outside at the albe
    The peas look amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really enjoying sharing your journey and can relate to your thoughts as you sat on the bench.
    The fertilised field walk was funny to watch. We had fields covered in it near our home some years back and there was no escape from the smell and flies!


  4. Really enjoying reading your blog! I am due to set off on Aug 22 from Winterbourne Stoke and still have a couple of decisions. Do I need to take a tent or will I be able to book accommodation throughout? Do I take the hard copy of the Lightfoot Guide or download it and rely on using the Via Francigena route app? So I wondered how you are navigating the route – with maps, guidebook or GPS app.

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    1. We have not yet needed a tent but it is still early and we did camp once. Despite the weigh it is also a security blanket for us at the moment. We will ditch the tent in SZ regardless.
      I went back and forth on GPS apps. I don’t think any are really better the. We chose Gaia.
      No books for us but we’ve read some at some Gites etc. I think we are missing some historical tidbits without one but there is a weight penalty. You don’t need it for navigation. The path is much better marked than I had heard. It’s not perfect and we have had to refer to GPS on occasion. The VF app has stages too short for us since we have a 90 day visa limit in Shengen for US citizens.


      1. My wife and I are doing the whole Via Francigena starting in May. Your entries are inspirational. About GPS: what is Gaia? Is the Via Francigena map sufficient? What do you do when you don’t have WIFI or cell signal?


      2. Edward, Most people use the Francigena Map. We started in London and the London to. Canterbury route isn’t on the VF app. Also, we knew we’d be going “off” the via a few times and I was already comfortable with Gaia. It is an online software or phone app You can download all maps to your phone so there is no worry about WIFI. GPS signal is different from cell. I’m not sure there was ever a spot where we were without GPS in Europe, in fact I’m sure there wasn’t.

        Re you walking the VF….congratulations. I’m jealous of course. In glad you’ve found the VLOG to be helpful. We tried to make it very honest (sometimes too honest perhaps). As you may have seen we are still in the process of upgrading all the text and videos. Low wifi or cell signal did stop me from uploading hidef video and our text entries are atrocious! Quite often we were very tired when writing. Sometimes I was actually walking (amazed I didn’t do a faceplant a few times). And sometimes we’d had a glass of wine or two before writing. But it’s slowly getting better as we edit and add more context and content. We’re only up to day 21 though. It’s a huge effort as you can imagine.

        If you want to zoom chat or something please email us at and we can set something up. We have a million stories of course.


    2. Oh BTW. We have been booking only one day ahead so far. Not once have we missed out. At Therouanne we spoke to the owner who mentioned (not surprisingly) that numbers are way down from 2019 and only slightly better than 2020. There was just too much uncertainty this year I think.
      Starting Aug 22 do you intend to go to Rome? That may be late to cross the alps from what I’ve heard if you are walking the whole way.


  5. I am following with pleasure your journey, mine will be the same but with different stops…, so far it seems to me that you didn’t do reservations at the lodgings, you just popped in, is this assumption of mine correct? I was told that to make the reservations with anticipation is highly recommended, but on the other hand it brings rigidity to the adventure…


    1. I’m glad you are enjoying it.
      We booked a day in advance so n average. Some days we just couldn’t get responses so we had to keep trying during the day. It added some unwanted stress but it came with traveling in a Covid year. Many places on the “lists” were not staffing their phones or were otherwise closed.
      I highly prefer just winging it where possible because of the freedom it offers. I can’t imagine doing what some folks do eg book their entire trip ahead of time. But to each his own.
      My recommendation is to experiment and see what is working for you and in the environment you find yourself in. We were never left out in the cold (well, twice we were but because we had the tent we made certain more “risky” decisions that we wouldn’t otherwise have made.


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