Thursday 28 August.
We both slept fairly well after everyone else in the hostel settled down. Its funny the number of times in hotels and hostels that people in other rooms sound as if they are rearranging the furniture before getting to bed. In the morning my back was still achy but a big improvement on yesterday, the anti-inflammatory pills appear to be working. I took another two with my breakfast which we had in the kitchen downstairs, cereal, toast and coffee.
When we left it was a 15 minute walk to the docks and very terminal. It was raining slightly and we had on our waterproof jackets. I took it easy to ease my back in gently. It was a job to find the check-in for foot passengers; the place was deserted but at last we found a couple in reflective jackets out for a quick smoke who directed us to the foot passenger's lounge and the P&O counter. After getting our boarding passes we had a 20 minute wait for a bus that took everyone to the ferry. On the bus a number of people were interested and amazed in what we were doing and I handed out a few of our cards. One woman, Ester, on a day drip to Calais gave a £10 donation.
We relaxed in the lounge reading the newspaper we had downloaded before leaving the hostel. It was a gentle 2 hour crossing but the visibility was poor though when we reached Calais the rain had stopped but it was still cloudy. The walk from the ferry terminal wasn't very long after the bus dropped us at the gates; we must have taken a shorter route than the one we take in the motorhome. Following the directions from our Cicerone guide book we soon reached the Canal de Calais by skirting round the 'centre vile'. It wasn't a typical canal towpath but a narrow pavement beside a road, fortunately not too busy. It was a pleasant walk on a hard even surface which helped my back which was holding out quite well.
After about an hour's walking we came to a stall that was selling sandwiches and 'frites'. Moira bought a small bag of chips between us. It did our lunch, I can't imagine how much came in a big bag. Shortly after the Pont de Coulogne the canal split in two and we took the right hand one, Canal de Calais a Guines. There was a waymarked route following the canal, the Chemin de Randonnee Pedestre de Coulogne a Guines. Again it wasn't the sort of towpath we are accustomed to, it left the canal in places and was a narrow track through woodland. Where it did follow close to the canal it was again narrow and rough. Fortunately in places it widened and was gravel or tar which improved our pace.
When we reached the end of the canal it was our destination for the day, the small town of Guines. From the town square and the Hotel de Ville ( town hall) we had to ask directions as the street names didn't correspond to the ones quoted in our guide book. It was about a kilometre and on the outskirts of town to Camping La Bien Assise. I had booked a chalet there over the Internet that was avialable to pilgrims on the Via Francegena. It slept 5 but we were the only ones using it. It was ideal and we had plenty of room plus cooking facilities. The shower had piping hot water and I let it cascade over my back muscle to relieve any tightness.
Moira went shopping at the campsite supermarket, what she bought made a lovely cheese omelette for dinner along with a bottle of French red wine. We are getting into the swing of things now we are in France.