The Airnimal “Rhino” fully laden (overladen, if I am really honest) and ready to go. I had to wait for Canterbury cathedral to open this morning as I forgot to get my piligrimin credential stamped yesterday in order to get an early start. There was no way – as a good rabit piligrimin – that I was going to off from Canterbury without my first stamp in my piligrimin passport. Then I missed the photo opportunity outside the cathedral, which was a bit daft as I’ve got my best Nikon camera with me, ready to do some quality blogging from the road.
I am on schedule to catch the 23.30 ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe, arriving at 04.00 and then I have to make a big decision: hang around for five hours until the church of St Jacques-de-Compostelle opens, just to get a piligrimin stamp (no, it’s a tampon in France.) The promble is that’s it’s not an ordinary stamp: it is the first stamp in France and the start of the piligrimin route in a church dedicated to St James. There’s nothing else for it: I’ll have to wait five hours. When I walked through on the way from Worcester to Compostela in 2008 there was a friendly lady cleaning the church and as soon as I show her my piligrimin passport, she beamed and took me through to the sacristy, making sure to make the stamp nice and clear on the page. Then she showed me the wooden statue of St James inside the church. There is another one outside, between the double doors. (See earlier post.)
The route to Rouen is a beautiful valley route, following a footpath alongside the river Scie which winds along, most of the way, providing lush green pastures for those Normandy cheeses. The other local product is cider. The path is a walking route known as the Chasse Maree which follows the mediaeval fishmongers night route to Rouen markets from the fishing port of Dieppe.
As with the piligrimin roads to Compostela, there is always some doubt about the way in which these ancient routes actually follow an authentic track.
I would imagine much of the original Chasse Maree route would be buried under the tarmac of the busy main road between Dieppe and Rouen, not in the cool forests and fields that the walkers’ route now passes through.
The little town of Cleres has a medieval covered market place which is pleasant to sit in on a hot day or shelter from the rain, eating fresh croissants from the local boulangerie.
I must press on. There will be a blog from Rouen in two days time, as that will be the next Internet connection. For any who may be interested, I have today blogged the second of my five article series on The Letters of Saint Clare to Saint Agnes of Prague, on the Catholicism Pure & Simple blog. When I get to Rouen, I will be writing something on Saint Joan of Arc, from the market place where she was burnt at the stake. (Or should that be burned? Combusted? It’s always a tricky one…)
Back on the road… Rabit on a Rhino.
Finally, don’t forget to take a look at the Whizz-Kidz charity donation page, as I am trying to raise some more funds for them through viewers of this blog, as i cycle from Canterbury to Poitiers along the old piligrimin routes.