Who can enter?
Absolutely anyone of all fitness levels can take part, but it'll take training and determination to conquer the longer distances. 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.
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.
How much is it to enter?
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: £35 (closes 16th April 2023)
- Standard entry: £40 (closes 4th June 2023)
- On the day: £45
A maximum of 800 participants are able to take part in the Pilgrims Way Challenge 2023, and last year’s event sold out, so early registration is advised to avoid disappointment.
If capacity is reached before the event, on the day entry will not be available.
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.
Should I raise sponsorship?
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, by phoning the Supporter Relations team on 01227 782062 (9am-4pm, Mon-Fri), 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 JustGiving, or call 01227 812609.
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.
Where does the Pilgrims Way Challenge start from?
Both the 25km and 55km hikes begin from our Start HQ at Wye Village Hall, Bridge Street, Wye, Kent TN25 5EA. Please arrive during your allocated 30-minute starting wave. This will be communicated to you 3 weeks before the event. We operate starting waves to avoid congestion at the start venue and on early stages of the trail. Please do not arrive before your allocated wave as you may be unable to enter the venue.
No participant parking will be available at the venue itself, however, a dedicated drop-off zone will be available in Churchfield Way (TN25 5EQ) which will be signed and marshalled. Ample local street parking can be found within the village as shown here. We recommend that you are dropped off or met by family or friends that can take you home after such a tiring challenge.
The 35km hike will start from Pilgrims Hospice, 56 London Road, Canterbury, CT2 8JA. There is no parking available at the Canterbury hospice as this is reserved for patient visitors and hospice staff only. 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 the event and for patient visitors only. This will be marshalled to allow only patient visitors to park.
There is good public transport to get to and/or from the event. You may find the following transport links useful.
- 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.
What time does the walk start and finish?
To avoid congestion at the start venue and early stages of the trail, you will be allocated a 30-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 – 08:00hrs
Start wave B: check in between 08:00 – 08:30hrs
Start wave C: check in between 08:30 – 09:00hrs
Start wave D: check in between 09:00 – 09:30hrs
Start wave E: check in between 09:30 – 10:00hrs
Start wave F: check in between 10:00 – 10:30hrs
The start waves for those starting at Canterbury are as follows:
Start wave G: check in between 10:00 – 10:30hrs
Start wave H: check in between 10:30 – 11:00hrs
Participants on the 55km route must reach the Canterbury halfway point by 1330hrs and leave by 1400hrs at the latest in order to continue. If you arrive at Canterbury after this time, you will be advised to finish as a 25km walker. This is to avoid participants walking in the dark and our event team working into the night.
All participants must have completed the trail and checked in at our de-registration desks 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.
Can I bring my dog on the Pilgrims Way Challenge?
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 and on sections where the trail follows the road. However, we do think dogs make for great training companions!
Are the roads sections closed?
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.
How will I know the exact route?
The routes for Pilgrims Way Challenge 2023 are:
- Wye - Canterbury: 25km – View map
- Canterbury - Dover: 35km - View map
- Wye - Canterbury - Dover: 55km - View map
The routes will be clearly signed with acorn national trail signage arrows, supplemented by orange fluorescent 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 participant lanyard which contains printed maps of the route.
Will the course be clearly marked?
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 participant lanyard which contains printed maps of the route.
Is the course hilly?
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. Another, is the final testing climb to the finish at Dover Castle on the 35km 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.
How tough is it?
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.
Can I jog or run?
You certainly can! The Pilgrims Way Challenge is primarily a walking event. However, 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.
What happens if I have a problem on the route or I do not think that I can finish the walk for health reasons?
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 its 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.
Will there be refreshment stops on the routes?
Absolutely! The Pilgrims Way Challenge is a fully supported hiking event and this includes regular rest stops (typically 5 - 7km apart) stocked with a variety of catering including bananas, flapjacks, cakes, crisps, rolls, water and hot drinks.
It is recommended that participants bring a packed lunch and preferred snacks to supplement event catering, particularly if you're used to eating certain foods during your training walks that work for you.
A selection of hot food options will be provided at the Canterbury rest stop for 25km finishers and 55km walkers, as well as at the Dover Castle finish area for 35km and 55km finishers.
Please note: there is a reassurance point as you approach Chilham at 12.3km - only water 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.
Similarly, there is a reassurance point located at the bridge over the A2 near Dover at 50km - only water and crisps will be available here. There are no toilets at this stop and it is a further 3.9km to the Dover Castle Finish.
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. Water barrels will be available to refill at rest stops.
Participants are encouraged to spend as little time as necessary at each rest stop (ideally a maximum of 15 minutes unless they need to see a medic) to avoid congestion and to ensure that they finish the event in good time.
Portable toilets will be available at each rest stop.
Rest stop information
Rest stops are at the following locations:
- Start venue: Wye Village Hall, Bridge Street, Wye, Kent
- Water station: Exit from King's Wood, Mountain Street
- 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
- 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
- Water station: Dover Road bridge crossing of the A2
- Finish Venue (35km and 55km finish): Dover Castle, Castle Hill Rd, Dover CT16 1HU
How can non-hikers get involved?
We're looking for volunteers to help with registration, route marshalling and refreshments at each location. Contact Robert Grew on 01227 812609 or email email@example.com for more information. You can also complete and return our volunteer application form.
What do I get for my entry fee?
- Pre-event pack
- Event T-shirt
- Regular rest stops with complimentary drinks and snacks
- Fully signed route
- Event medical support
- Recovery vehicles
- Event lanyard with printed route maps
- Free use of the Pilgrims Hospices Events App for event information, training and gps tracking
- Finisher’s medal
How will I be identified as a Pilgrims participant on the day?
Everyone will be 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.
When do I have to send in my sponsorship money?
If you have raised sponsorship in the form of cash and cheques, may we ask that you forward this to Pilgrims Hospices before 22nd July 2023 in one of the following ways:
1) By post to Pilgrims Way Challenge, Supporter Relations, Pilgrims Hospices, 56 London Road, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 8JA (sponsorship forms and cheques only)
2) By making a website donation for the equivalent amount and then sending in your sponsorship forms to the address above in order for us to claim any Gift Aid. (Remember to select 'Pilgrims Way Challenge' as the reason for donation within the donation form)
NOTE: If you have raised sponsorship purely online via a JustGiving page, we will send you an official thank you letter for your total after the above hand-in date.
What should I wear?
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.