What are my options for my Pilgrims Way Challenge entry?

In light of the event's cancellation, we are offering the following three options to all Pilgrims Way Challenge participants:

  1. If you would like to rollover your entry and attend the Pilgrims Way Challenge on Saturday 19th June 2021, you don't need to do anything at this time. We will automatically defer your entry onto next year's event if we haven't heard from you before Monday 7th September 2020. 
  2. If you wish to receive a refund of your entry fee, please contact fundraising@pilgrimshospices.org before Monday 7th September 2020 with your request.
  3. If you do not wish to rollover your entry to 2021 or receive a refund, but wish to donate your entry fee to Pilgrims Hospices, let us know by contacting fundraising@pilgrimshospices.org

Please note that all new refund requests will be processed from Monday 7th September.

Absolutely anyone of all fitness levels can take part. Whether you’re new to long-distance walking or a seasoned rambler, the sense of achievement will be the same; set yourself a personal challenge, walk in memory of someone, have a day out with your friends or enjoy a team-building day with colleagues.

New for 2021, you can now choose to run the Pilgrims Way Challenge with our new trail run option.

You must be 16 years and over to enter the Pilgrims Way Challenge and be accompanied by an adult at all times if you're under 18 years old. 16 and 17 year olds must have a signed parental consent form.

You must be at least 16 years of age to participate in the Pilgrims Way Challenge and walkers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a participating adult.

  • Early Bird entry: £25 (closes 9/5/21)
  • Standard entry: £30 (closes 13/6/21)
  • On the day: £45

Entry to this fully supported event includes regular rest stops with drinks and snacks, a fully signed route, medical cover, training app, event T-shirt and a hot meal at Canterbury (the halfway point for 55km hikers) and at the Dover Castle finish.

Much of the entry fee goes towards running the event and making sure that you have an enjoyable and safe experience. Therefore, we ask that you pledge to raise at least £100 sponsorship for your challenge (after all, it’s no easy feat to hike all that way!) Alternatively, if you'd rather not ask your friends and family to sponsor you, we hope you might consider making a personal donation towards the care we provide. This can be done at any time on our website, at our hospices in Ashford, Canterbury or Margate, or on the day of the event.

It costs Pilgrims Hospices just over £10,000 a day to run the full range of services at each of our hospices, and events like these help us to continue caring for local people as they near end of life. Please download a sponsorship form, set up your own online fundraising page with Just Giving, or call 01227 812 609.  Don’t forget to encourage your sponsors to tick the Gift Aid box if they’re eligible to do so; for every £1 donated, we’ll be able to claim an extra 25p from the Government at no cost to you or your sponsors. It makes a huge difference.

The 25km hike on Saturday 19th June will begin from our start HQ at Wye Village Hall, Bridge Street, Wye, Kent TN25 5EA. Please arrive during the allocated start window communicated to you so that we can maintain social distancing at the start venue. If you arrive outside of this time, you may be unable to enter the venue. Remember to wear a face covering at all times while at event rest stops and venues. 

Free parking is available at the venue as well as street parking nearby as shown here although we recommend that you are dropped off or met by family or friends that can take you home after such a tiring challenge.

There is no parking available at the Canterbury Hospice finish area. Canterbury city centre, which has plenty of parking available and good public transport links, is a 15-20 minute walk away. The hospice car park will be used in full for social distancing and patient visitors only, this will be marshalled to allow only patient visitors to park.

At the start a dedicated drop off zone will be available in Churchfield Way, which will be marshalled.

There is good public transport to get to and/or from the event. You may find the following transport links useful. It is
essential that anyone travelling on public transport wears a face covering at the current time.

  • Wye: Serviced by trains running approx. every 30 minutes from the directions of Ashford and Canterbury; the
    station is a 2 minute walk from the start venue at Wye Village Hall
  • Canterbury: Trains run from Canterbury West Station back to Wye departing every 30 minutes
  • Dover: Trains run from Dover Priory Station back to Wye (via Ashford) departing every hour; the last train of the night is 23:56.

In line with our Covid-secure event plan, you will be allocated a designated 15-minute check-in window and start wave, during which you should aim to arrive at the start venue. Your start wave will be allocated based on your estimated pace and challenge distance provided when you signed up for the event. Please note that arriving outside of your designated start wave could mean you are unable to enter the venue and delay your start.

The start waves for those starting at Wye are as follows:

Start wave A: check in between 07:30 – 07:45hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave B: check in between 07:45 – 08:00hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave C: check in between 08:00 – 08:15hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave D: check in between 08:15 – 08:30hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave E: check in between 08:30 – 08:45hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave F: check in between 08:45 – 09:00hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave G: check in between 09:00 – 09:15hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave H: check in between 09:15 – 09:30hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave I: check in between 09:30 – 09:45hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave J: check in between 09:45 – 10:00hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave K: check in between 10:00 – 10:15hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave L: check in between 10:15 – 10:30hrs (no earlier please!)

The start waves for those starting at Canterbury are as follows:

Start wave M: check in between 10:00 – 10:15hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave N: check in between 10:15 – 10:30hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave O: check in between 10:30 – 10:45hrs (no earlier please!)
Start wave P: check in between 10:45 – 11:00hrs (no earlier please!)

Trail completion

All participants must have completed the trail and checked in at our de-registration tent by 5:00pm for the 25km route, or 9:00pm for the 35km and 55km routes. If you haven't completed the trail by this time, the event organiser will attempt to contact you and you may be withdrawn from the challenge due to safety and control issues.

Inevitably, there are several points where the trail either crosses or follows a section of road for a short time. Walkers must be vigilant at all times when navigating these sections and adhere to the Highway Code for pedestrians. Specific sections where great care should be taken will be outlined in the pre-event information sheet emailed to participants. We advise walkers to wear an item of fluorescent clothing during the day to assist with being seen. 

It is mandatory for participants on the 35km and 55km routes to carry a head torch to light their way in the evening, and to wear a red light on their back during the later stage of the event.

The routes for Pilgrims Way Challenge 2021 are:

The routes will be clearly signed with acorn national trail signage arrows, supplemented by orange florescent signs with black arrows marked with the Pilgrims Hospices logo.

It is recommended that you download the free Pilgrims Hospices Events App for iOS and Android smartphones as it contains a detailed route map with gps tracking.

You will also receive a walker lanyard which contains printed maps of the route.

Yes, the North Downs Way (Pilgrims Way) is clearly marked with finger posts and markers depicting an acorn on a yellow arrow. These will be supplemented with bright orange way-markers on more complicated sections of the trail, together with road crossing and hazard signs. A downloadable map will be available for you to use in advance of the event.

It is recommended that you download the free Pilgrims Hospices Events App for iOS and Android smartphones as it contains a detailed route map with gps tracking.

You will also receive a walker lanyard which contains printed maps of the route.

East Kent has a fantastic variety of terrain and the Pilgrims Way Challenge showcases this as much as possible. This inevitably means there’s a few uphill sections for you to conquer along the way, the most notable of which is Soakham Downs at 4kms into the 25km and 55km routes. But remember, this is not a race and it is perfectly acceptable to take your time on challenging sections. Please be aware that the route requires the navigation of several stiles.

You certainly can! The Pilgrims Way Challenge is primarily a walking event. However, new for 2021, participants can test the limits of their endurance by running or jogging the route as a trail run.

Remember, this is not a race and it is perfectly acceptable to take your time on challenging sections. Please be aware that the route requires the navigation of several stiles and the crossing of several roads.

Runners and walkers are welcome to use their own devices to record their personal times but no official timing system is used.

There will be regular rest stops providing water and snacks along the way, as well as first aiders and medical response vehicles positioned to respond in case of an emergency. Long-distance walking can take it’s toll on the body; we strongly recommend that you carry with you a small first aid kit containing blister plasters, additional socks, and enough food and water.

If you have any health concerns please consult your GP before taking part. It's recommended that you're able to walk at least 75% of the trail distance comfortably beforehand. If there is a medical emergency you should call 999. The emergency services are aware that the event is taking place.

Please note: Due to limitations brought into effect by the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 Pilgrims Way Challenge
will not have the same variety of catering as usual. This is to protect the health of participants and event staff
during this unprecedented time.

  • Participants must bring a packed lunch and preferred snacks to eat for the Chilham rest stop (14.4km), only
    bananas, flapjacks and water bottles will be available here.
  • The Chartham Hatch rest stop will have a selection of pre-wrapped cakes and water bottles. No hot
    drinks will be available here this year.
  • The Canterbury rest stop will have a selection of hot food available for 25km finishers and 55km walkers, as well as snacks and a take-away hot drinks station available.
  • The Dover finish area will have a selection of hot food available for 35km and 55km finishers.
  • Please note: there is an additional reassurance stop as you approach Chilham at 12.3km - only water bottles will
    be available here. There are no toilets at this stop and it is a further 2.1km into the village where the rest stop is.
  • Participants are responsible for making sure that they remain hydrated throughout the day. It is recommended to
    bring a full water bottle (or two if you can carry it) there will not be any water available at the start. Only bottled
    water will be available to refill at rest stops. Additional recycling points have been added for the extra plastic
    required this year.
  • Each rest stop has been carefully redesigned to take place entirely outside and will operate a strict one-way
    system. Participants should not enter the buildings at any of the venues for any reason.
  • Participants are encouraged to spend as little time as necessary at each rest stop (ideally a maximum of 15
    minutes unless you need to see a medic) to allow for social distancing.
  • It is mandatory for a face covering to be worn while at the event rest stops and start and finish venues (except while eating). This is especially important for the usage of portable toilet facilities.
  • Portable toilets will be available at each rest stop. Please join the designated queuing area and an event steward
    will direct you to the next available toilet, please do expect some queues to enable social distancing. It is
    mandatory to wear a face covering and use the hand sanitiser provided before entering, and after leaving,
    the toilets. Please follow the event stewards instructions at all times.

Rest stop information

Rest stops are at the following locations:

  • Start venue: Wye Village Hall, Bridge Street, Wye, Kent
    TN25 5EA
  • Rest stop 1: St Mary’s Church, Chilham, CT4 8BY (at
    14.4km into 25km route).
  • Rest stop 2: Chartham Hatch, CT4 7LP (at 19.5km into
    25km route).
  • Rest stop 3 (25km finish / 35km start / 55km halfway): Pilgrims Hospice, 56 London Road,
    Canterbury, CT2 8JA
  • Rest stop 4: St Mary's Church, Patrixbourne, Canterbury, CT4 5BS
  • Rest stop 5: St Margaret's of Antioch, Womenswold, CT4 6HE
  • Rest stop 6: All Saint's Church, Sandwich Road, Waldershare, Dover, CT15 5AT
  • Finish Venue (35km and 55km finish): Dover Castle, Castle Hill Rd, Dover CT16 1HU

We're looking for volunteers to help with registration and refreshments at each location. Contact Robert Grew on 01227 812 609 or email robert.grew@pilgrimshospices.org for more information. You can also complete and return our volunteer application form.

  • Event centre facilities
  • Medical support
  • Fully signed route
  • Rest stops along the route with complimentary catering
  • Event t-shirt
  • Event lanyard with printed route maps
  • Free use of the Pilgrims Hospices Events App for event information, training and gps tracking
  • Finisher’s medal

Everyone will sent an event T-shirt and participant lanyard containing a unique number that identifies them as a participant. You must wear this number visibly to the event so that you're easily identifiable.

Please collect and send in your sponsorship by 31 July 2021 so we can announce the grand total raised by the Pilgrims Way Challenge and thank you for all of your fundraising efforts.

You can either hand in your sponsorship at your nearest Pilgrims hospice or send sponsorship to:

  • Supporter Relations, Pilgrims Hospices, 56 London Road, Canterbury, Kent CT2 8JA.

Suitable clothing for spending many hours outdoors in changeable weather, including a waterproof layer, suitable backpack/daypack for supplies and comfortable walking footwear that you have tested and worn in.

A full list of recommended kit is available here.

No, unfortunately we don't allow dogs to take part in the Pilgrims Way Challenge as we can't cater for them along the route and it can be difficult to manage on the trail, especially during the evening stages. However, we do think dogs make for great training companions!

There’s no denying it – walking 25km, 35km or 55km is a tough challenge by anyone’s standards. It will be physically and emotionally demanding. You'll have to overcome fatigue and tiring limbs as you battle to complete the challenge!

You'll need to prepare; training advice will be issued and you should read this carefully. The more comfortable you are with walking long distances for sustained periods, the more comfortable you'll be on the trail.

View our 6 week and 7 week training plans here.