In 2013 author Guy Stagg embarked on a pilgrimage on foot from Canterbury to Jerusalem. He crossed 10 countries and 5,500 kilometres, relying on the kindness of strangers and staying with monks, nuns, priests and ordinary families. Here he shares some of his photos of this incredible adventure. 

 

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This is a view of the Alps taken from the north-east side of Lake Geneva. It’s early February, and the mountaintops are lost in a snowstorm. From here my route circled the lake and climbed up the Rhône Valley, before crossing to Italy at the Great Saint Bernard Pass.

 

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At the beginning of Lent I was smuggled into the Abbey of St Maurice by a canon named Max, who had a deep-fat fryer hidden in his cell and who cooked me plates of chips for supper. I stayed here over the weekend, until the worst of the storms had passed.

 

Guy-Stagg-The-Crossway-Rhone-Valley

Farther up the Rhône Valley I passed through the Swiss wine country. Because I was walking in winter, the hiking paths were buried under snow.

 

Guy-Stagg-The-Crossway-Tuscany-in-spring

Entering Italy in late February I left behind the winter weather. By early March, the Tuscan landscape was filled with the first signs of spring.

 

Guy-Stagg-The-Crossway-Rome-from-Monte-Mario

I entered Rome from the north-west side of the city, crossing a long stretch of suburb. Climbing to the top of Monte Mario, I caught sight of St Peter’s for the first time.

 

Guy-Stagg-The-Crossway-Meteora-medieval-monasteries-Greece

While in Greece I left the Via Egnatia – the ancient road between Rome and Istanbul – to visit a complex of medieval monasteries known as Meteora.

 

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These monasteries were built on high stacks of rock to keep them cut off from the world. Traditionally the only access was by a basket and winch.

 

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Hiking round Mt Olympus in the second week of May, I met farm workers from all over the Balkans. This lot were laying tobacco seeds in the midday heat.

 

Guy-Stagg-The-Crossway-monastic-repuplic-Mt-Athos

While in Greece I also visited the monastic republic of Mt Athos, where twenty monasteries occupy a 60km peninsula on the eastern leg of Chalkidiki. This one, Dochiariou, was founded in the late tenth century.

 

Guy-Stagg-The-Crossway-protests-in-Taksim-Square-Istanbul

I arrived in Istanbul during the Gezi Park protests. On my first night in the city, I joined the protestors in the streets surrounding Taksim Square. This – terrible – photo was taken on İstiklal, which had been set alight during the demonstrations.

 

Guy-Stagg-The-Crossway-Anatolian-Plateau

Once I crossed the Bosphorus, the landscape changed again. It was late June, and I was hiking over the Anatolian Plateau, where the plains were dotted with hamlets, villages and lonely stone houses.

 

Guy-Stagg-The-Crossway-Turkish-Lakes

By July I had reached the Turkish Lakes. From here my route climbed over the Taurus Mountains and dropped down to the Mediterranean Coast.

 

Guy-Stagg-The-Crossway-Mar-Antonios-Lebanon

In Lebanon I hiked along the country’s mountain spine, staying in Maronite churches and monasteries. This one, Mar Antonios, was hidden just outside Wadi Qadisha, the Holy Valley.

 

Guy-Stagg-The-Crossway-caves-Upper-Jordan

Once I reached Israel, I travelled along the Upper Jordan and around the Sea of Galilee. These caves honeycombed the rocky outcrops to the south of the lake.

 

Guy-Stagg-The-Crossway-Judean-Desert

After reaching Jerusalem, I walked on into the Judean Desert. This photograph was taken just beyond Bethlehem, where the landscape opens up into rugged hill country, before sinking towards the Dead Sea.

Watch Guy Stagg talk about how he came to write The Crossway: