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The North Downs Way Pilgrims Festival 2018 is a week-long series of events in Wye celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the North Downs Way.

>>Download a copy of the programme<<

We welcome you all to join us; for a short walk or a mighty journey; for those who love nature and our countryside or want to learn more about cultural heritage. We have drama, literature, film, food, drink, and much, much more.

We’ve teamed up with OS Maps to offer festival-goers a FREE one-month subscription to OS Maps as part of National Get Outside Day. You’ll receive your code over email for bookable events or you can pick up a code at the festival for non-bookable events.

Please note there will be photography/photography at some events so please let us know on the day if you do not wish to be filmed or photographed.


Weekend events

Saturday 29th – Sunday 30th 


Pilgrimage Fair


Saturday 29th September

Saturday Morning and Afternoon Walks

Saturday 29th September, 10am-3pm

Join us on  for a variety of beautiful guided walks finishing in Wye followed by a Pilgrims Feast in the Church followed by a choral harmony pilgrim duet. Choose from a variety of pilgrimage-related themes. There are different lengths and grades of difficulty to suit all needs and interests:

  • British Pilgrimage Trust
  • Refugee Tales
  • Ash Pilgrimage
  • Map Reading
  • Mindfulness
  • Augustine Camino



Pilgrim-related displays and activities in church

Saturday 29th September

Medieval dress up for kids; Charing Palace Trust Show and Tell; Pilgrimage through flute and music; and a Pewter Pilgrim Badge Demonstration.


Talk by Refugee Tales 

Saturday 29th September, 4.30pm

Poets Hubert Moore and David Herd will be reading from Refugee Tales.  This incredible book features poets and novelists who retell the stories of individuals who have direct experience of Britain’s policy of indefinite immigration detention. Presenting their accounts anonymously, as modern day counterparts to the pilgrims’ stories in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the book offers rare, intimate glimpses into otherwise untold suffering.


***SOLD OUT*** Pilgrims Feast For All The Family

Saturday 29th September, 5.30pm

A delicious Pilgrim Feast with flowers, candles, slow roasted whole lamb, local sausages and homemade vegetarian options.  The feast will be preceded by a short talk by Refugee Tales, music throughout and a special pilgrim song performance after by the British Pilgrimage Trust.


Songs of Pilgrimage

Saturday 29th September, 7pm-7.15pm 

Sung and introduced by Dr Guy Hayward, Co-Founder of The British Pilgrimage Trust


North Downs Way Anniversary Parade

Sunday 30th September

10.30am – Special Pilgrim Service at St Gregory and St Martin Church, Wye

11.30am – Pre-Parade Refreshments

12pm – Community Parade to Wye Crown to celebrate 40th Anniversary of North Downs Way Birthday Celebrations with special guest appearances.

The main event on Sunday 30th to mark the 40th Anniversary of the North Downs Way will see us leading a community parade from the Church to the Wye Crown to cut the birthday cake and toast the trail.  Real Ale Champion, Des de Moor, will officially launch The Ale Trail project and you can return to join the beer festival in the riverside garden at the Tickled Trout which takes place all weekend . You can sample a variety of official North Downs Way beers and collect your beer passport and map to start your journey.

The parade will depart from the church at 12pm for a leisurely stroll to the top of Wye Crown, approximately 1.5 miles where everyone will be rewarded with cake and drinks.


Ales of the Trail Beer Festival

Saturday 29th – Sunday 30th September

The Tickled Trout are hosting the Ales of the Trail Beer Festival all weekend.  Celebrating the Kent landscape, local breweries have dedicated official beers to the North Downs Way Trail to help raise funds for trail maintenance.  The Tickled Trout are hosting the weekend festival on Saturday and Sunday to showcase the Ales of the Trails. Most ales have a link to the trail either through name, local ingredients or links to military or cultural heritage. All breweries involved make a contribution to the upkeep of the trail to help us keep the route in top shape.


Weekday events

Monday 24 – Friday 28th

Heritage Walk from Chilham to Wye

Monday 24th September, 10.25am

Get a taste of a pilgrimage on this 7 mile section of The Pilgrim’s Way, the route from Winchester to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Experienced pilgrim Julia Lewis, who has walked the Camino de Santiago, the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome and the Pilgrim’s Way, will lead you through the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from the picturesque village of Chilham, through King’s Wood where medieval pilgrims once banded together to ensure safe passage from bandits, arriving in the lovely village of Wye. As with all great walks, this walk will finish with a pub lunch at the Tickled Trout next to Wye station. A charming pub by the Stour River, serving good food sourced from local suppliers. Try local brews, including the Tickled Trout Ale.



The Poetry of Pilgrimage

Monday 24th September 11am – 1pm

Location: St Gregory and St Martin’s Church, Wye

Free, booking required

Meet in Wye Church where local writer Victoria Field will introduce poems relating to the theme of pilgrimage and invite you to do some writing in response.  No experience necessary.  Please bring a notebook and something to write with. Free but booking essential as copies of poems will be provided.

Afterwards, you may choose to stay on for lunch (at your own expense) in the pub over which we can talk more about poetry and pilgrimage. Feel free to bring poems of your own to share for this part of the day.




Tuesday 25th September, 10.30am to 12pm

Location: St Gregory and St Martin’s Church, Wye

A pleasant coffee morning for pilgrims past and present to meet and discuss their experiences and  memories and bring along any pilgrim mementoes they’ve collected along the way.  No booking required, please contact for further details.


Wye Arts Association – Le Grand Voyage

Tuesday 25th September, 7.30pm

Le Grand Voyage is a 2004 film written and directed by Ismaël Ferroukhi portraying the relationship between father and son as they embark on a religious pilgrimage trip by car. The film won the Golden Astor for Best Film at the 2005 Mar del Plata International Film Festival, also was shown at the prestigious 2004 Toronto and Venice International Film Festivals. Proceeds go towards Pilgrims Hospice and the fabric of Wye Church.



Tuesday Mindfulness Guided Walk

Tuesday 25th September, 3.30pm to 5.30pm

Cost: Free, booking required

Distance: 4 miles

Location: St Gregory and St Martin’s Church, Wye

Children 12+ accompanied by an adult most welcome.  Sorry no dogs.

Join Bridget Reader on this gentle circular walk. We will focus on the five senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell to enhance our appreciation of our surroundings as we walk through them. Enjoy a thought provoking and gentle walk through the gorgeous Wye countryside, nestled in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  The health benefits of walking are widely documented so whether you need a break from it all or are just interested in mindfulness come along and enjoy this peaceful walk.




Author Talk – Pilgrimage and the Journey Within

Wednesday 26th September, 3-5pm

A pilgrimage is more than just a walk in a landscape. When we walk, especially when that walk is imbued with meaning, we can experience profound and lasting change.
Three recently published memoirs have explored this idea. At this unique event, their authors will read from their work and answer questions on how pilgrimage can be transformational in a variety of ways.

  • Guy Stagg’s The Crossway is an account of his 10 month walk from Canterbury to Jerusalem and was a Radio 4 Book of the Week. It charts the author’s struggle to walk towards recovery, and asks whether religion can still have meaning for those without faith.
  • Katherine May’s The Electricity of Every Living Thing describes the year in which she set out to walk the South West Coast Path, and discovered along the way she was autistic. This is a moving, funny, perspective-shifting memoir of nature, motherhood, and self-acceptance.
  • Victoria Field’s Baggage explores the ending of her marriage through the lens of a pilgrimage to Santiago. ‘She weaves these two accounts into a living tapestry of her life: here is the numinous, the sexual, the spiritual, the poetic, the humorous, the sorrowful.’




Santiago Tales – A Pilgrimage on Horseback

Wednesday 26th September, 5.15-6pm

Join Susie Gray and her intrepid horse Apollo (yes the horse will be there) for a fantastic tale of adventure.  Susie and her sister Mefo Phillips and their spotted Appaloosa horses Leo, a flirt with a passion for Mars Bars, and affectionate, gluttonous Apollo, for a pilgrimage down the medieval Way of St. James from Canterbury to Spain.  Slowed by thunderstorms, vertigo, worn-out horseshoes and a variety of eccentric farmers, it’s boiling midsummer by the time they reach the Castilian plains after a meander across lush springtime France. With 1,700 miles, four mountain ranges, and encounters with galloping goats, nude pilgrims, rampant donkeys and a fountain of red wine behind them , horses and humans are inseparable by the time they reach Santiago and the suddenly daunting prospect of a trundle in the horsebox back to England and a normal life


A Literary Journey – An Evening of Pilgrimage Tales

Wednesday 26th September, 7-9pm

Experience an evening of pilgrimage through three literary works – Chaucer’s The Millers Tale performed by the Dover Tales, Harry Bucknall’s account of his journey on foot from Canterbury to Rome in Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim and a look at the history behind the Pilgrim’s Way, a route from Winchester to Canterbury, in Derek Bright’s The Pilgrims Way: Fact and Fiction of an Ancient Trackway presented by Mandy Bright.


Trailblazers – Join our new Ambassador Programme

Thursday 27th September 2018, 11am-4pm

Do you like walking, storytelling and have good local knowledge of the history and countryside in Surrey/ Kent?
Do you have time to lead organised walks & talks on and around the North Downs Way National Trail?
Could you be a North Downs Way Ambassador?

Come to our first training session as part of the North Downs Way Pilgrims Festival

As a new scheme to help promote the North Downs Way to a wider audience we are looking to recruit and train a small group of 12-15 Ambassadors to lead guided walks on the North Downs Way. Walks can be as formal or as informal as you like and you’ll have the opportunity to create events to suit you. We will provide free maps & resources to help you plan your events to encourage people with little or no experience of countryside walking.

Other training sessions will take place later in the year so please contact if you are interested but cannot make this date.


Panel discussion: Pilgrimage: a long walk in the same direction

Religious traditional often include pilgrimage as a meaningful act or ritual. The Christian tradition has fallen in and out of love with pilgrimage over the centuries.

How could the practice of pilgrimage help the church rediscover a more outward focussed and creation conscious faith?

What can we learn from the renewed interest by pilgrims who would describe themselves as non- religious but spiritual?

Sponsored by the Diocese of Canterbury with a panel of guest pilgrims


Well-being and Nature Walk

Discover how engaging with nature and walking is beneficial to your well-being. A 5-mile circular walk in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
This walk begins at the Church of St. Gregory and St. Martin, following the North Downs Way National Trail up to the Wye Crown, the outline of a crown cut into the chalk hills to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. Following the ridge of the Kent Downs, enjoy beautiful views of the landscape below. After reaching the stunning and curiously named Devil’s Kneading Trough, a bowl-shaped feature in the chalk escarpment, you can judge for yourself if this is indeed the most beautiful view in Kent. Descending into the vale, we follow a level easy walk back into Wye. As with all great walks, this walk will finish with a pub lunch at the Tickled Trout next to Wye station. A charming pub by the Stour River, serving good food sourced from local suppliers. Try local brews, including the Tickled Trout Ale.



Labyrinths: An Experiential Pilgrim Pathway

Friday 28th September, 2-5pm

Explore the newly created labyrinth in Wye with the Diocese of Canterbury.

In Medieval times, the labyrinth was known to be a path for pilgrims and has been used before and since as a support for prayer, reflection and contemplation. Find out more about this ancient spiritual pathway, connect with the Christian tradition of walking prayerfully and have the opportunity to create a simple finger labyrinth. Following the labyrinth path offers the restless mind an opportunity to be inwardly observant, to pay attention to feelings, to explore challenges and to be open to new thoughts and ideas. Suitable for all ages and there will be plenty of finger labyrinths available for anyone who might find walking a challenge.


Kent – England’s Holy Land:  Tales of the Kent Saints and Pilgrimage

Friday 28th September, 7.30pm-9pm

Andrew Kelly of the Augustine Camino gathers historical experts for an exploration of key figures in Kent’s rich pilgrimage history.

  • Augustine and his mission – by Father Marcus Holden – Rector of the Shrine of St Augustine Ramsgate
  • The Kent Royal Legend – by Dr Eleanor Parker – Lecturer in Medieval English Literature at Oxford University
  • The Saints of Canterbury – Speaker to be announced



We are very grateful to have the use of the beautiful St Gregory and St Martin Church in Wye for the week.  Local clubs, schools and businesses will also be involved through their own venues as well as through the church. Selected local restaurants and pubs will be offering special Pilgrim Lunch menus and the new North Downs Way ‘Ales of the Trail’ range throughout the week.

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