A new long-distance walking route following in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims who walked from the south of England to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela has been launched to coincide with the Feast of St James (25 July).
The St James’ Way stretches from Reading to Southampton and revives a historic English pilgrimage route with modern waymarking, a new guidebook and support from tourism organisations, hospitality businesses and churches along its 68 miles length.
One of the UK legs of the world-renowned pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago, the new trail is designed for modern-day pilgrims and walkers interested in retracing the historic pilgrim route and can be walked in stages or over 4-5 days.
It links to the ‘Camino Ingles’, the final part of the pilgrim route in north-west Spain and one of the main seven official Camino de Santiago routes.
Marked with 500 waymarkers from Reading Abbey Ruins to God’s House Tower in Southampton, the route passes through West Berkshire and Hampshire countryside as well as the historic Hampshire cities of Winchester and Southampton.
The starting point is the Church of St James in Reading. From there, the route runs through countryside, also taking in the picturesque town of Alresford, before ending at God’s House Tower in Southampton, retracing the footsteps that a typical medieval pilgrim would have taken to travel from church to church to the coast before boarding a boat to Spain.
Nowadays a detour to Plymouth or Portsmouth to catch a ferry, or to Southampton airport, secures further passage.
The distinctive dark blue waymarkers with yellow arrows and a scallop shell – the symbol of St. James used on the Camino de Santiago – will help pilgrims, walkers, and families who set out along the route to enjoy their experience and keep on track.
For more about the new trail, see www.csj.org.uk/st-james-way
For tourist information about Hampshire see www.visit-hampshire.co.uk
Photo: God’s House Tower, Southampton