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How I plan a Pilgrimage Walk
40th anniversary - 1978 - 2018 - British Coast Walk - 7000 miles
Walking to Mont St. Michel


John Merrill's recent walks
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I had purposefully ended the Essex Coast Walk at Benfleet, for to me that was the end of the “coastline”, although not the end of Essex. I knew from previous walks the paths beyond were not reliable as one began entering the London environment and the world of shipping commerce. However a few weeks after this book was published an Essex walker contacted me and said five of them had walked the Essex coast from Rainham to Manningtree - basically border to border, meaning I had left out the section along the Thames Estuary.

How I plan a Pilgrimage Walk

How I work out the route taken medieval pilgrims.

Firstly, my initial research has confirmed that pilgrims walked from A to B; be it a holy place or shrine in medieval times. I often visit the site to see what I can find on the ground. Often I cycle between the two points to get a general feel of the area and see what lies between. Then I do more research into the places along the route - the churches, historical buildings, religious ruins and names on the map.

Wherever possible I use public rights of way and use roads/lanes as a link to the footpaths.

40th anniversary - 1978 - 2018 - British Coast Walk - 7000 miles


A year ago this began as a simple walking project, which I thought would be completed in a few weeks. How wrong I was! Partly this was due to fact I hadn't time to do it as a continuous walk, because of other walking commitments, here and abroad. It meant going out once a week and continuing on from where I left off. However as you will read, this did not go to plan because of rail works and infrequent buses. But it was all good fun and allowed me to more fully appreciate the Essex coastline over the seasons.

Walking to Mont St. Michel

- Caen to Mont St.Michel
September 23rd. - 29th. 2017
with the Association Les Chemins du Mont-Saint-Michel.
This is an annual walk from different start points each year, arriving on September 29th, the feast day of St. Michael.

Having walked from Farnham via Winchester, Plymouth, Cherbourg to Mont St. Michel in 2016, I joined the Association and when I learnt that they had an annual walk to Mont St. Michel I knew I had to join them. I had never walked with others before and my French is very limited, despite my mother being a French teacher; I was the disgrace of the family!


At last after the walk file sitting on my desk in the pile of walks to do, for 14 years!, I set off in the morning to walk to Mont St. Michel - 180 miles. I am doing St. Swithin's Way first from Farnham to Winchester then on along the pilgrimage route to Portsmouth, and across to Cherbourg and the 127 mile walk to Mont. St. Michel. I have been there many times but never on foot.
Bon Camino and Happy walking!


Higger Tor - Burbage valley - a great overhanging rock climb!My first rock climb on Burbage North.
Millsones on Burbage South rocks.
Burbage Valley.
Burbage Valley.

In April I gave a lecture on my walking life in the Central Library in Sheffield. One of the audience came up afterwards and asked if I would give his club a talk. I agreed and later received an email with dates. I held off for it was not economical to travel from London for just one talk. For the next three months I kept putting him off! Then out of the blue I got a talk request from the Winster Historical Society for the sameday! I quickly arranged both and looked forward to late November 2014 to do the two talks.


STORT VALLEY WAY - To celebrate my young birthday, yesterday, I walked the supposed 28 mile Stort Valley Way in Essex, from Roydon. A beautiful day, first beside the River Stort Navigation for 8 miles to Sawbridgeworth, then to many small attractive villages - Matching, Matching Tye, edge of Harlow, Naezing and back to Roydon. I clocked with GPS 33 miles! I was walking by 7.45am and fininshed twelve hours later. Although I had walked different sections on different walks, I had not done it one go .


SAXON SHORE WAY- SAY FIVE - 22 miles - Lovely remote walk from Herne Bay across Kent via the River Stour to Sandwich. Now back near the coast, as I press on tomorrow via Deal to Dover - more than 23 miles. Saw no one, just a lovely sunny day and a lone cormorant on a pole.

Saxon Shore Way

28/3/2014 - Currently walking the Saxon Shore Way - 160 miles from Gravesend around the Kent Coast. First walked it on my walk around the coast of Britain. It is good to see the places again and how little has changed. Saw avocets, shelduck, curlew and oystercatchers today. Now reached Herne Bay - the true start of the coast from London and the Thames. Now pressing on to Sandwich, Dover and Hastings. Lovely weather -T shirt and shorts!!! Happy walking! John.

December walks

Another great walk from Dartford along the Thames to Greenwich - 24 miles. Made it as the sun set. Greenwich was busy with fairy lights and the indoor market was full of circular balls of lights - looked great.

7/12/2013 - Caught the bus to Buntingford and did a 22 mile walk to Mill End, Anstey, Buckland, Cotterill, Throcking and back to Buntingford...beautiful weather, sun shining, and reached Buntingford as the light faded...another great day in Hertfordshire - saw no other walkers!!!
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