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Launch of Cathedrals Cycle Network

01 June 2021

On Sunday 30th May a new kind of pilgrimage route was launched, the Cathedrals Cycle Route, linking all 42 Church of England cathedrals by two wheels.
 
A small group of cyclists set off on the 15 mile journey south from Newcastle Cathedral to Durham Cathedral on the inaugural relay ride. They were carrying a specially designed baton, Olympic style, to pass on at each of the 42 Church of England cathedrals.  After Durham, the next group of cyclists were heading to Ripon Cathedral 55 miles away, and so on, crisscrossing the country between each of our English cathedrals returning to Newcastle Cathedral 42 days later (weather permitting).
 
The 2,000 mile Cathedrals Cycle Route is the invention of academic, entrepreneur and keen cyclist Shaun Cutler, from Northumbria University, and is designed to help us all out of lockdown with opportunities for short cycle rides between cathedrals, new partnerships and fundraising for physical and mental well-being activities.
 
Shaun has worked with Newcastle Cathedral, Sustrans, Cycling UK, the Association of English Cathedrals and the British Pilgrimage Trust to design the 42 linked routes. 
 
He said: “The Cathedrals Cycle Route is about connecting our historic cathedrals and enjoying the spaces between them.  
 
“Now more than ever, after a year of living with the coronavirus pandemic, this is a way to support people’s mental and physical health and promote the mission of England’s cathedrals through pilgrimage, wellbeing and heritage.”
 
This first nationwide relay ride will also be an opportunity to test out all the new routes and will raise money for Cycling UK’s Break the Cycle appeal, which aims to improve people's wellbeing through the charity’s community cycling clubs, activities and projects nationwide. 
 
It is hoped that the relay ride will become an annual event and will encourage more and more people to get on their bikes to travel to our cathedrals. Each cathedral aims to have a dedicated cycle champion to improve the cycle-readiness of their buildings and ensure a warm welcome for visiting cyclists in a bid to increase the number that arrive on two wheels. Durham Cathedral's Learning and Engagement Officer, Pam Houseman, and her husband were part of the inaugural ride, with Pam taking on the role of cycle champion for Durham. 
 
The Reverend Canon Charlie Allen, Canon Chancellor, Durham Cathedral says, “The new cycle route linking the 42 English Cathedrals is an excellent initiative, and we were tremendously excited to welcome the first cyclists arriving from Newcastle Cathedral.  We hope that others will be inspired by these trailblazers and look forward to welcoming many more cyclists to Durham Cathedral in the future!”
 
You can find all the Cathedrals Cycle Routes here: https://www.cyclinguk.org/cathedrals-cycle-route-challenge

Image: The Revd Canon Clare MacLaren, Newcastle Cathedral's cycling champion, handing the baton to Durham's cycling champion, Pam Houseman, Education and Learning Officer, Durham Cathedral.