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The Old Way Loop Walk 22 March 2023

Forty of us, including Rufus the labrador, walked the Loop of The Old Pilgrim Way from St Nicholas’ Arundel, via St Leonard South Stoke and St Mary North Stoke, and thence back along the western bank of the Arun to where we started. The day was grey and there was light rain which produced plenty of mud. But the walkers, cheerful and determined, enjoyed the variety of terrain through Arundel Park with its stunning views, down to South Stoke in its hidden valley, across the bridge and into the atmospheric meanders of the Arun leading to the lush meadows which go up to North Stoke set on a promontory above the opposite side of the River. Here we paused for tea. At St Nicholas’ we were given a blessing as we set out, and at each Church there were prayers which linked us to each Patron Saint, providing an important focus to our Walk. We were accompanied by Canon David Twinley of Arundel and South Stoke, and The Reverend Gerry Burgess of Amberley-with-North Stoke. Dawn Champion came from Kent to represent the British Pilgrimage Trust which has done so much to promote The Old Way, the lately-rediscovered pilgrim route from Southampton to Canterbury. Nick Watts, representing the SE region of the Churches Conservation Trust, came from Rochester. Our experienced Leader Paul Wilkinson ensured that we all arrived safely at journey’s end, after an energetic and companionable day.

A leaflet plan of the route is available in all three loop churches, also at St Michael’s Amberley and Wiggonholt Church. The full route is about 9 miles and some of us did only part of it as lifts were available at strategic points. For future reference, shared cars left at Arundel and North Stoke respectively, or taking Southern Rail between Amberley and Arundel and back, would also work.

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