On Foot to Canterbury
A Son's Pilgrimage
Setting off on foot from Winchester, Ken Haigh hikes across southern England, retracing one of the traditional routes that medieval pilgrims followed to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Walking in honour of his father, a staunch Anglican who passed away before they could begin their trip together, Haigh wonders: Is there a place in the modern secular world for pilgrimage? On his journey, he sorts through his own spiritual aimlessness while crossing paths with writers like Anthony Trollope, John Keats, Jane Austen, Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens, and, of course, Geoffrey Chaucer. Part travelogue, part memoir, and part literary history, On Foot to Canterbury is engaging and delightful.
"My father didn't need this walk, not the way I do. For him it would have been a fun way to spend some time with his son. He had, I begin to realize, a talent for living in the moment Perhaps a pilgrimage would help me find happiness. Perhaps I could walk my way into a better frame of mind, and somehow along the road to Canterbury I would find a new purpose for my life. It was worth a shot."
Audio edition from PRH available from Audible, Kobo, Google, and Apple Books.
About the Author
"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
"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 https://nicolaross.ca/everyone-should-go-on-a-pilgrimage]
"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 https://www.collingwoodtoday.ca/local-news/former-collingwood-library-ceos-book-details-the-progress-of-his-pilgrimage-4470123]
"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
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