Pilgrim Encounters – The Kindness of Strangers

Pilgrimage had shown me what was radical about the wandering life, as on the road all tokens of status were left behind.

Guy Stagg – The Crossway

One of the huge pleasures of going on a pilgrimage is the opportunity it gives you to meet people whose paths you wouldn’t otherwise cross. I returned from my walk enrichened by my pilgrim encounters on the road.

The photos below give a chronological summary of the people I met on my journey who hailed from all walks of life and offered me great kindness, convivial conversation and good cheer .

Day 3: Rev Paul Bradish and Rev Jemima Lewis, St Swithin’s Church, Headbourne Worthy – they welcomed me and prayed for my safe journey
Day 4: Rev Julian Hubbard (right) who put me up at Compton
Richard Hemingway who walked with me from Compton to Guildford
James and Sarah Hutton who gave me lunch at Netley House
Day 5: Mark Eastwood who out me up in Dorking and drove me to see my parents’ graves at Headley
Mike Griffins the caretaker at Merstham Cricket Club
Day 7: Rev Vince and Veronica Short who put me up at Tatsfield
Michael & Jessica Medd whom I bumped into on a hillside near Wrotham
Day 8: All Saints Church Wouldham – Rev Mike who showed me around the church and Martin the clock winder
Day 10: Phil and ‘Creepy’ who work on the Eastwell Park Estate and showed me where the last Plantaganet was buried in Eastwell Church
Anthony Perrett and his wife who gave me coffee and a poached egg at Chilham Rectory
Jenny Walpole the curate at St Dunstan’s Canterbury who gave me a tour of the church
Pauline the churchwarden at Patrixbourne
Mike whom I met on the village green at Shepherdswell exercising his 2 Borzoi dogs.
Mike and Stella Pascall who put Olivia and I up at Shepherdswell, cooked us a fantastic supper in their garden barbeque house and gave me a bicycle to get on the Dover – Calais ferry.
Day 12: Another Mike! This one was a kiwi from North Island who I met on the way to Dover
Day 13: Jeremy a sports car importer from Newcastle whom I met on the quay in Dover about to board the ferry.
Riccardo and Luigi who bought me breakfast on the Dover-Calais ferry
Day 14: Hans, a walker from Ghent whom I met in the Forest of Guines
Day 15: Mme Lysensoone whom I stayed with in Tournehem sur la Hem
Day 16: Sister Lucie at the Abbey of Notre Dame in Wisques
Eva and Martine, fellow pilgrims staying at the Abbey if Notre Dame in Wisques
Day 18: Dean from Seattle at the Gite D’Etape Eden at Thérouanne
Day 19: Colette Gevas at the Ferme des 2 Tilleuls at Amettes
Day 20: Pierre-Yves and Christine Lamarliere who put me up at Béthonsart and made a generous donation to the ‘Raise the Roof Apoeal’
Day 21: Claire Kapoun whom we stayed with in Arras at the Au carré St Eloi
Claude and Georges in Arras
With Tiffany our waitress at Le Comptoir Restaurant in Arras
Arash, an Iranian investment banker I met in Arras
Odile Samain whom I stayed with in Bapaume
Sylvain who gave us some wild raspberries in the church hostel in Péronne
Day 25: Elfriede Coulerot whom I met in the street in Tertry was a keen anglophile
Day 26: Mme Tordeux-Bremard whom I stayed with in Laon
Day 27: Mme Dumon and Monsieur Portet whose garden I camped in at Pontavert
Day 29: Fellow pilgrims Molly and Ken with their daughter in the Abbey of St Thierry
Day 30: Fellow pilgrims Patrick and Marie in the Abbey of St Thierry
Nun Lawrence at the Abbey of St Thierry
Benjamin, who worked for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was helping out with the grape harvest at St Thierry
Day 32: Sylvie Gerard of the Pré en Bulles Hotel where I stayed in Trépail gave me a bottle of wine ‘on the house’s
Sebastian, who was helping out with the grape harvest in Trépail let me have lunch and coffee from the food in his van
Day 33: Elisabeth and Jean Paul Lesoeur who made me most welcome at Le Pavot Bleu Gite in Chalons en Champagne
Day 34: Baptiste, a French pilgrim walking to Rome whom I met outside Amand-sur-Fion
Day 34: Régis and Catherine Jacobé who I stayed with at the Moulin du Ruet Gite in St Anand sur Fion
Day 35: Marie-Jo and Francis at Blaise-sous-Arzillieres
Day 36: Pheasant shooter near the hamlet of Au Milieu su Nulle Part
Day 36: Jean-Philippe Mignot who I stayed with at Rosnay l’Hôpital and gave me a tour of the church
Day 37: Agnes from Nîmes who I met on the bridge at Chalette y Voire. She had walked to Compostella
Day 37: Anne who flagged me down in the street and welcomed me to the church hostel at Brienne le Chateau
George’s, a fellow pilgrim, who I first met in the hostel at Brienne and spent a number of days walking with.
Day 40: Dany and Dominique from La Cressonniér Gite at Mormant-Leffonds
Day 41: With Claude and the owner of the Ferme St Anne Gite at Langres
Day 45: With Christophe Desre atcthe Au Bon Vivant Gite at Dampierre sur Salon
Arianna, a fellow Italian pilgrim whom I met in Dampierre and again in Ornans
With Khaled, Samir and Aymen from Tunisia who cooked us lamb couscous at the Au Bon Vivant
Day 46: Etienne and Brigitte, French pilgrims I met outside Bucey-lès-Gy
Nadine Thorelle, whom I stayed with at the gite La Charmotte in Gy
Day 47: Charles who was harvesting grapes outside Gy
Mario, an Argentinian I met at Aucherons
Day 49: Larent and Karina whom I stayed with at the Au Sanglier qui Fume Gite in Ornans
Day 51: Mireille Godart whom I stayed with in Jougne
Day 52: Father Jean-Luc Martin who welcomed me to the church hostel in Jougne
Day 53: Francine and Nicole whom I stayed with in Villery-sillars who cooked me Raclette for supper
Day 55: Otto and his English wife whom I met in Vevey
Patrick, a Dutch carpenter, I shared the evening with at a campsite in Villeneuve
Day 56:Timothé who shared his food with me at the Abbey of St Maurice
Canon Cyrille Rieder who welcomed us at the Abbey of St Maurice
Day 57: Nilde, a pilgrim who had walked the Via Francigena whom I met in Martigny
Day 57: Pascal, the owner of the Gite Au 3 Collines I Sembrancher, where I stayed
Day 58: Archie and Louisa Montagu-Pollock who put me up in Geneva on my final night and cooled me a lovely meal

If you’d like to make a donation to the ‘Raise the Roof Appeal’ to help renovate the roof at St Peter’s Church, Winterbourne Stoke, you can do so by following this link:


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