Book details

Publication date: September 2021
Features: 1 map, references
Series: Wayfarer
Keywords: travel writing; Pilgrims’ Way; Canterbury; pilgrimage; Geoffrey Chaucer; hiking; walking; history of England; English literature; faith; walking tours; literary heritage; Winchester to Canterbury; death; bereavement; memoir; Hilary Weston award
Subject(s): TRAVEL / Special Interest / Hikes & Walks, Creative Writing, Creative Writing / Travel Literature, Creative Writing, Creative Writing / Literary Nonfiction, TRAVEL / Europe / Great Britain, BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs, Sports and Active Outdoor Recreation / Walking, Hiking, Trekking, Lifestyle, Hobbies, and Leisure / Travel Writing, Biography, Literature and Literary Studies / Memoirs, travel writing; Pilgrims’ Way; Canterbury; pilgrimage; Geoffrey Chaucer; hiking; walking; history of England; English literature; faith; walking tours; literary heritage; Winchester to Canterbury; death; bereavement; memoir; Hilary Weston award, Travel, Regional History, Literary Nonfiction, Travel / Memoir / Literary Pilgrimage, Canterbury, Bestseller
Publisher(s): The University of Alberta Press

Ken Haigh. Happiest when reading or hiking, Ken Haigh has written one other travel memoir, Under the Holy Lake: A Memoir of Eastern Bhutan (UAlberta Press). He has worked as a teacher and librarian and lives in Clarksburg, Ontario.

"On Foot to Canterbury is a beautifully written and eloquent story that skillfully weaves historical anecdotes into a journey through rural England, leaving the reader with practical, sage advice on how to deal with loss and depression, but most of all, on how to live. Haigh’s eye to detail is a delight to read, as are his frequent musings on landscape and history. This subtle, moving story stays with you long after the book is finished."

Jury members, 2021 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction

“We discover [Haigh’s] life long battle with depression, growing middle age angst, his tenuous relationship with his father and his drifting away from the Anglican Church of his youth…. A worthwhile read…[and] a brave book…”

Robert Burcher, The Blue Mountains Review, October 5, 2021

"It bristles with historical asides and stories of encounters along the way, and is full of warmth and wit."

Sebastian Milbank, The Tablet, November 10, 2021

"Those who have walked the Pilgrims' Way from Winchester will find this book an enjoyable account."

Leigh Hatts, Walking The Pilgrims' Way, November 6, 2021

"The narrative is immediately engaging; it’s both entertaining and thought-provoking... Haigh’s journey took him beyond his physical destination, to a Pilgrims’ Way of the mind and soul. On Foot to Canterbury did the same thing for me."

A.M. Potter, North Noir, November 10, 2021

“Haigh takes readers on an elegant historical tour of England as he walks for two weeks from Winchester to Canterbury. With the patient eye of a historian, he explores churches and describes the landscape…. Having misplaced his own faith, Haigh explores his relationship with God, coming to appreciate British author Julian Barnes’ statement, 'I don’t believe in God, but I miss him.’” Nicola Ross, December 6, 2021 [Full post at]

“Walking Pilgrim’s Way takes you through a literary landscape in England where you keep being reminded of books you’ve read and enjoyed,” said Haigh. “Part of the pilgrimage for me was visiting these places that meant so much to me as a reader.” Erika Engel, September 29, 2021 [Full interview at]

"On Foot to Canterbury is deeply felt and spiritual, funny and mournful. It deserves a wide readership. These long pandemic months lend themselves well to armchair travel and Haigh is a welcome companion. As he writes, 'After all, walking a pilgrimage is really just walking in the footsteps of those who have gone before, and there is some comfort in knowing that.' It may even inspire a pilgrimage of your own." Bryn Evans, Alberta Views Magazine, April 2022

…On Foot to Canterbury…describes a circular journey, with a narrator who is a restless wanderer and aspires to ‘walk my way into a better frame of mind’.… As Haigh notes, travelling plays an enormous role in his life, and the linear pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury—a road rich with historical and literary significance—is inspired by a tentative plan made with his father. Initially, he is reluctant to carry out this plan after his father’s death, but ‘itchy feet’ and a constant awareness ‘of the existential clock ticking’ lead him to revise it into his own journey through a process of relentless self-doubt and grieving…. The linear path to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury—with multiple allusions to Bunyan, Chaucer, Raleigh, Walton, and Keats—becomes Haigh’s journey, and it ends with his hope that ‘it inspires you to take journeys of your own’.” Dorothy F. Lane, Canadian Literature, September 28, 2022 [Full review:]

"Ken Haigh’s encounters open up spirited discussions in On Foot to Canterbury. Stories, texts, and histories enmesh: Haigh provides a history of the pilgrimage route, grapples with his spiritual questioning, and ponders the path that lies ahead for him. His peregrinations, physical and mental, widen readers' perspectives on things secular and sacred.”

Kit Dobson, author and professor

Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, Canada
Trade Non-Fiction Book of the Year | Alberta Book Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta, Canada

Book Design | Alberta Book Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta, Canada
Prelude xi

1 | Winchester 1
2 | Winchester to New Alresford 23
3 | New Alresford to Alton 41
4 | Alton to Farnham 57
5 | Farnham to Newlands Corner 67
6 | Newlands Corner to Dorking 89
7 | Dorking to Reigate 107
8 | Reigate to Godstone 119
9 | Godstone to Otford 131
10 | Otford to Addington 145
11 | Addington to Rochester 163
12 | Rochester to Thurnham 183
13 | Thurnham to Lenham 199
14 | Lenham to Wye 213
15 | Wye to Canterbury 227
16 | Canterbury 245

Acknowledgements 253
Notes 255
Suggested Reading 263
ISBNs: 9781772125450 978-1-77212-545-0 Title: on foot to canterbury ISBNs: 9781772125900 978-1-77212-590-0 Title: on foot to canterbury ISBNs: 9781772125917 978-1-77212-591-7 Title: on foot to canterbury