A beautiful day for walking – windy but dry. The forecast is looking similar for the rest of this week. I hope it’s right.
With the weather so pleasant, I decided not to take a shortcut to reach Écotte outside Licques where I’m staying tonight. I followed the official Via Francigena route which took me around three sides of a square – an oddly indirect, but very rewarding path that took me through the forest of Guînes and then through countryside very much like the South Downs.
The route is well marked and not too strenuous – mostly flat. But it has been planned with a different philosophy than the Caminos in Spain. The Spanish routes tend to take pilgrims through the centre of every settlement and past the church. By contrast, on this section of the Via Francigena, the route often skirts small towns and villages – which means that there’s less chance of pilgrims supporting the economies of depopulated areas. I suppose that the pilgrim economy wasn’t a consideration in the planning of the route, since there are so few pilgrims today.
Tonight I’m at Youri and Linda’s Airbnb, where the welcome is sincere. I couldn’t have picked a better place to stay. For a very reasonable 10 Euro supplement, Linda offered me a dinner of home made game terrine followed by huge stuffed peppers, which are now stuffing me.