Table of contents

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


Setting off on foot from Winchester, Ken Haigh hikes across southern England, retracing a traditional route that medieval pilgrims followed to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. On his journey, he sorts through his own spiritual aimlessness, while crossing paths with writers like Trollope, Keats, Austen, Swift, Dickens, and, of course, Chaucer. On Foot to Canterbury is part travelogue, part memoir, part literary history, and all heart.


  • Short-listed, Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction 2021
  • Short-listed, Book Design | Alberta Book Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta 2022
  • Short-listed, Trade Non-Fiction Book of the Year | Alberta Book Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta 2021


“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

"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

"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

"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

“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