The serious planning has now begun. Next Tuesday we return to Scotland and after a week making sure the house and garden are in order we will be off, on Tuesday 26 August.
Moira has booked us on the bus for Canterbury, the first stage of this long journey. It leaves from Glasgow and goes via Birmingham where we change buses. Arriving in Canterbury in the early evening we are booked into Kitt's backpacker's hostel close to where the route begins. We are in a dorm and hopefully it will be quiet and we get a good night's sleep before the long 30 km walk along the South Downs Way to Dover.
I have emailed the 'Confraternity of the Pilgrims to Rome' about where to get the initial stamp on our credentials. Hopefully it will be at the Cathedral and maybe there will be a blessing from the Archbishop to go with it.
On reaching Dover it is another hostel for the night but this time we have a double room. The hostel is close to the docks and the ferry terminal meaning we don't have a long walk for the ferry in the morning. It leaves shortly after breakfast and Moira booked us on a day excursion ticket for £8 each. It is a return ticket but we will just forget to come back.
Initially the plan had been to come over on the ferry once we arrived in Dover and start off early the next morning from Calais on another 30 km hike to Licques. But the single ticket on the ferry in the evening is more expensive than two people in a car, strangely enough. Now it will be mid-day when we arrive in France and plan to just do a short 12km stroll to Guines. There is a campsite there that has a chalet they use for pilgrims on the Via Francigena, it only costs €10 each for the night. I have booked in there.
Well that's as far as the planning has gone. It will take us over the first few days until we get used to long distance walking again. For accommodation we will just 'play it by ear' and anyway we will have our two-man tent with us in case of emergencies.