In July 2016 once again Refugee Tales walked, on paths taken by travellers over the centuries, this time from Canterbury to Westminster, while reflecting on the long and dangerous journeys that many refugees make fleeing war and persecution, seeking a safe place to live.
A number of walkers undertook the full 5 days and others joined along the way. Accommodation was provided for the core group of walkers in village halls and church halls and those who prefered booked bed and breakfast accommodation. All meals including packed lunches were provided by our catering team.
All overnight stops were near a railway station so it was easy to join and leave the walk.
RT 2016 – Day 1 – Sunday 3 July 2016
- Accommodation: Tyler Hill Memorial Hall, Summer Lane, Tyler Hill, Canterbury, CT2 9NJ.
THE WALK STARTED HERE
RT 2016 – Day 2 – Monday 4 July 2016
The Garden of England. Canterbury – Faversham 11 miles.
- Ordnance Survey Map 150 & 149
The route went from Blean, then through ancient woodland along old trackways. Out in the open again, there were wonderful views of the Swale estuary, before it passed through the village of Hernhill and the hamlet of Goodnestone. Here it picked up the Swale Heritage Trail which took us into Faversham. The route was rural and very picturesque.
- Start time: 0930 very near the University of Kent at the bus stop on Blean Common, Blean Village, CT2 9EX. Just up from the shops in Tyler Hill Road
- Nearest train stations: Canterbury West (start) and Faversham (finish).
- Bus no 4 and Triangle Bus from Canterbury go through Blean. Alight at the second bus stop after Blean Tavern.
- EVENING EVENT at 1900
Host – Olly Double
Chaucer – Sarah James
The Prologue – David Herd
The Abandoned Person’s Tale – Olivia Laing
Music – Liran Donin & Ranjana Ghatak
at The Faversham Assembly Rooms, Preston Street, Faversham, ME13 8PG
- Accommodation: The United Church, Preston Street, Faversham. ME13 8NS
RT 2016 – Day 3 – Tuesday 5 July
Dickens Country. Rochester – Gravesend 11 miles
- Ordnance Survey Map 163
Train from Faversham to Rochester. Started at 9.30 Rochester train station.
The first part of the walk gave us views of the centre of historic Rochester including the Cathedral and the Castle. We then crossed the river Medway and walked through Strood into the countryside. The rest of the route was rural until we reach Gravesend. The route passed through Lower Higham and the hamlet of Church Street before it went north to the Saxon Shore Way and the Higham Saltings.
- Start time: 0930 at Rochester train Station
- Nearest train stations: Rochester (start) and Gravesend (finish).
- NOON EVENT – Public Discussion on The Immigration & Asylum Act 2016 — at St Mary’s Church, Lower Higham, Rochester, Kent, ME3 7LS
Christine Oliver of Samphire
Richard Warren of Kent Law Clinic.
- EVENING EVENT at 1900
Host – Jonathan Freedland
The Support Workers’ Tale – Josh Cohen
The Lover’s Tale – Kamila Shamsie
Music – Haymanot Tesfa
at Gravesend Methodist Church, Milton Road, Gravesend, DA12 2RE
- Accommodation: Gravesend Methodist Church, Milton Rd, Gravesend DA12 2RE.
RT 2016 – Day 4 – Wednesday 6 July
Urban Revival. Gravesend – Dartford 13 miles
- Ordnance Survey Maps 162
This day was more urban and followed the Thames from Gravesend to Dartford Marshes before it turned inland to along the river Darent to Dartford.
- Start time: 0930 Gravesend Rail Station.
- Nearest train stations: Gravesend (start) and Dartford (finish).
- NOON EVENT
Venue: ASDA Distribution Depot, Galleon Boulevard, Dartford, Kent, DA2 6QL
Public discussion – What does it mean to be welcomed?
- EVENING EVENT at 1900
Host – Sameena Zehra
The Voluntary Returner’s Tale – Caroline Bergvall
The Barrister’s Tale – Rachel Holmes
Music – Mike Dr Blue, na-mara
at Trinity Cafe, High Street, Dartfort, DA1 1DE
- Accommodation: Spital Street Methodist Church, 43 Spital Street, Dartford, DA1 2DX
RT 2016 – Day 5 – Thursday 7 July
Hidden Green. Dartford – Greenwich 13 miles
- Ordnance Survey Map 162
The walk from Dartford to Greenwich took in a section of the River Thames and a series of beautiful parks and woodlands including Lesnes Abbey Woods and ended at Greenwich Park with its spectacular views over London.
The start of the walk followed the rivers Cray and Darent north to the Thames with the chance of seeing sea birds and hearing skylarks.
In Erith we turned inland and pick up the Green Chain Walk.
After lunch we walked through the adjacent Bostall Heath and Woods and then through a series of open spaces down to the base of Shooters Hill. Walkers took the bus up Shooters Hill and on to Blackheath and so down to Greenwich.
- Start time: 0930 Dartford.
- Nearest train stations: Dartford (start) and Greenwich (finish)
- Lunchtime Event at 1300:
Talk – Will Pettigrew on Slavery in London at the Lesnes Abbey ruins, Abbey Road, Belvedere, DA17 5DY
- Evening Event at 1930
Host – Shobu Kapoor
The Smuggled Person’s Tale – Jackie Kay
Music – Gerard McChrystal
Theatre – ICE & FIRE
at Christ Church, Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, London, SE10 9EQ
- Accommodation: St Mark’s United Church, 22 Greenwich South Street, SE10 8TY. Close to Greenwich rail station.
RT 2016 – Day 6 – Friday 8 July
Exploring the South Bank of the Thames. Greenwich – Southwark and Westminster 10 miles.
- Ordnance Survey Map 161
We followed the Thames Path from Greenwich to central London taking in Deptford, Rotherhithe, Bermondsey, Southwark and the South Bank. Deptford, formerly the site of the Royal Docks, has undergone a period of decline since the docks closed and is now gradually being regenerated. Rotherhithe was an important area of docks (trading with Scandanvia and the Baltic) and has many Victorian warehouses (mostly converted to flats). We passed the entrance to the Thames Tunnel which was designed by Brunel and his father. There is also a film studio, an old watch house (designed to protect the graveyard from grave robbers) and a free school founded in 1613. Next to St Mary’s Church is the touching grave of Prince Lee Boo of the Pacific Islands who came to Britain in the eighteenth century (see www.stmaryrotherhithe.org for his fascinating story). As we approached Shad Thames we pass by Jacob’s Creek (home of Bill Sykes of ‘Oliver Twist’).
The area then became much smarter as we went past the offices of the Mayor of London and HMS Belfast. On the opposite side of the river is the Tower of London. Just beyond London Bridge we passed Southwark Cathedral, the Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre before we arrived at Christ Church, Blackfriars Road for our ceremony to mark the end of the walk. We then walked on to the Southbank.
No overnight accommodation is available.
- Start time: 0930 Greenwich
- Nearest train stations: Greenwich(start) and London Bridge, Waterloo, Victoria. (finish).
- Lunchtime Event at 1130
Talk – Iain Sinclair on London at the Time and Talents Centre, The Old Mortuary, St Marychurch St, Rotherhithe, London SE16 4HZ
- Afternoon Event at 1500
Walkers’ Tales: Reflections and next steps at Christ Church, Blackfriars Rd, London SE1 8NY
Welcome, refreshments and sharing of walkers’ tales. Fare-well from Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon.
- Afternoon “pop-up” Event at 1645
Strangers: What would Shakespeare make of the refugee crisis? He imagined Sir Thomas More delivering a powerful plea on the issue – which Jeremy Irons has agreed to perform for us on Queen’s Walk which is the main riverside path directly outside the Southbank Centre. It’s Shakespeare’s last surviving handwritten play script.
- Evening Event at 1845
Presentation of Refugee Tales collection at the ICA – Institute of Contemporary Arts on the Mall, SW1.