Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Travel Hikes & Walks

On Foot to Canterbury

A Son’s Pilgrimage

by (author) Ken Haigh

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
Hikes & Walks, Personal Memoirs, Great Britain
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2021
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


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

Ken Haigh is a graduate of Queen’s University and the University of Western Ontario, where he studied English literature, education, and library science. In 1987-89, he taught for two years in Khaling Valley in Eastern Bhutan. Ken has also taught in China and in the Canadian Arctic. He lives in Clarksburg, Ontario.

Ken Haigh's profile page


  • Winner, Book Design | Alberta Book Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta
  • Short-listed, Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
  • Short-listed, Trade Non-Fiction Book of the Year | Alberta Book Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta

Editorial Reviews

"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

"On Foot to Canterbury is a beautifully written and eloquent story that skillfully weaves historical anecdotes into a journey through rural England, leaving the reader with practical, sage advice on how to deal with loss and depression, but most of all, on how to live. Haigh’s eye to detail is a delight to read, as are his frequent musings on landscape and history. This subtle, moving story stays with you long after the book is finished."

Jury members, 2021 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction

“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]

“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]

"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

"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

“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

"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

Other titles by Ken Haigh

Related lists