The Royal Kentish Camino

Walkers on Royal Kentish CaminoWalking the Royal Kentish Camino between Barham and Elham (© Rob Baldwin)

The Royal Kentish Camino is a themed walking route that has been developed as a joint initiative by the churches of St Martin, Canterbury, St Mary & St Ethelburga, Lyminge and St Mary & St Eanswythe, Folkestone to celebrate the achievements of three powerful women from successive generations of the Kentish Royal Family in the 6th and 7th Centuries AD. This was a foundational time in the creation of England as a nation state, which ultimately led on to the formation of the United Kingdom we know today. The route offers a unique experience of pilgrimage in this country as it ends at the shrine of a saint whose relics are still preserved and venerated in the church she founded almost 1,400 years ago.

The route of just over 23 miles (37.7km) begins at the church of St Martin in Canterbury, part of the World Heritage Site that also contains Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey. It is the oldest church in the English-speaking world, used before the end of the 6th Century by Queen Bertha, who is thought to have encouraged her husband King Aethelberht to invite the Pope to send the Christian mission that led to the conversion of England. The route proceeds from Canterbury to Patrixbourne where it turns south and heads down the Elham Valley towards Lyminge, where Bertha’s daughter Ethelburga founded a church in the 630s, that was re-excavated and studied in detail in 2019. Ethelburga was Queen of Northumbria and began the conversion of the north of England to Christianity in 625. From Lyminge, the route climbs up onto the ridge of the North Downs and passes the ancient church at Paddlesworth.  This is dedicated to St Oswald, one of the first English saints, and may have been founded by Ethelburga's daughter Eanflæd.  Having reached the coast above Folkestone, you descend the cliff to the harbour, and then climb the opposite cliff where Bertha’s granddaughter Eanswythe founded the first church in Folkestone around 660 and where her bones have been preserved ever since. Nowhere else in the British Isles is there a church preserving the relics of its founding saint, so St Eanswythe’s shrine is in this sense unique.

The route is available on OS Maps for download as a GPX file if you are a subscriber. Alternatively, you can download both the Royal Kentish Camino Routecard and the accompanying Public Transport Map as pdf files by following these links.

The Royal Kentish Camino was launched on 27 April 2024.

If you enjoy the Royal Kentish Camino, why not also explore The Royal Saxon Way and discover more about the powerful women of the Kentish Royal Family who founded many of the earliest churches in Kent?


This page is managed by the Lyminge Parish Council Historic Environment Working Group