The FINAL cathedral!

Well the day finally arrived. I had one cathedral left and it was only just under 60 miles away. The end was in sight!

I set off from Newark just before 9am. I’d spent ages planning a route that took me south avoiding the A1, but almost as soon as I left Newark the road I’d chosen was closed and I had to start busking the route.

This went ok…but I had to keep stopping to check the map on my phone and some of the roads I wanted to take turned out to be bridalways!

It was a calm, if cloudy morning though and I enjoyed the quiet country riding…


Next up was Grantham, a town that was famously voted as “England’s most boring town”. To be fair it isn’t that exciting although does have some nice features including St Wulfram’s church with its impressive spire and a town hall with statues in front. Also, although my family are all from Scotland, it is believed that they originally came from Grantham, hence the name ‘Graham’.

I had arranged to meet with members of my cycling club Velo Club Rutland, so that they could ride in with me to the final destination, Peterborough, the cathedral for our diocese.

The rendezvous point was a lovely cafe called The Tea House at Rassell’s Nurseries. I’d promised to arrive between 11.30am and 12.00pm so was quietly pleased to roll up at 11.31am!

I was blown away to see to nearly 40 fellow cyclists waiting for me and applauding my arrival. If I hadn’t had my emotional moment at Durham Cathedral I think I would have struggled to maintain my composure. I was genuinely touched that so many had come out to support the ride.

The chap on the right of the above photo in the Rethink jersey is my brother Fraser. As the challenge was in memory of our brother Allister, he wanted to be part of this final stage.

I’d loaned him my spare bike less than two weeks before and he managed to complete the full 64 mile route from Oakham to Peterborough and back. Kudos to you bro!

It was a pleasant sociable and flat (!) ride into Peterborough. I was worried about the large numbers and the traffic but we let cars by as best we could and thankfully there were no car/cycle rage issues!


Peterborough was alive! The city was full of Millwall fans as they played Peterborough that afternoon, and we had to navigate our way round them, the police and a live band before finally rolling up to the cathedral!

There was a small welcoming committee including Rev Jenny Opperman from the cathedral and Rob Persani from Rutland Radio who instantly engaged me in an interview. Thanks to him for coming on his birthday! We stood for a group photo (thanks to Rachel Harris for that) and the job was done!


I also met a lovely lady called Feath Newton who is a great supporter of Rethink and everything they do. She has followed my journey all the way through and made very generous donations including an additional cheque on my arrival at Peterborugh. What an amazing lady! Thank you Feath!

Peterborough Cathedral kindly laid on tea, coffee and biscuits and Rev Jenny took me on a whirlwind tour of the cathedral. It’s an amazing building and has been a place of worship for 1300 years!

The ‘new’ building at the East end with its incredible ceiling was built in the 1400s. We were also shown the final resting place of Henry the VIII’s first wife, Katharine of Aragon (d. 1536). I love living in a country with such history!

We had a casual ride back via Stamford to my home town of Oakham in Rutland and then gathered by the Buttercross in the market place for a final photo. Journey over.

After that I rolled back home and to my love Belinda, without whose support I couldn’t have undertaken any of this challenge. I’d missed her so much.

So, there we are. It’s over. Am I glad? Well yes I suppose I am. I set a challenge and I’m pleased to have completed it.

I have truly enjoyed it though and will miss the travelling round our amazing isle. It’s been an monumental task logistically and physically but also a tough one mentally.

Losing my younger brother at just 32 was tragic and I just hope that I have managed to raise awareness of the plight of those that suffer with mental illness and the work that charities like Rethink do to help them.

Allister – may you rest in peace brother.


To donate to Rethink go here

Pushing South – N Route Day 6

On Friday morning I got up early to say goodbye to my hosts in Pudsey near Bradford, namely Angus, Vicky, Evie, Harry and cats Steve and Frank!

It was a very foggy morning and I was informed that this was the ‘Pudsey Fog’. Apparently it’s a common occurrence there in the mornings. So, I had to go for full lights for safety as I headed out into the rush hour traffic.

Man it was freezing!!! I wished I’d had my full gloves with me as my fingers gradually froze to the bars. There wasn’t a great deal of choice for routes from Bradford to Wakefield and found myself on busy main roads. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant start to the day.

It was only 18 miles to Wakefield though and I rolled up to the cathedral at around 10am just as the sun finally won over the fog. I was greeted by a lovely lady called Elizabeth Jenkins who escorted me to the cathedral cafe where they produced an enormous pot of Yorkshire Tea – they do not mess about with tea up here! – and some breakfast rolls to fuel me up.

The cathedral is right in the heart of the city, surrounded by shops and pedestrianised streets. The east end of the cathedral is undergoing major renovation. I loved the interior which had a very warm feel.


The sun was warming the day nicely as I set off south towards Sheffield via the A61 Barnsley Road. The scenery was much nicer on this road as I passed places such as Newmiller Dam but it was hilly, and I mean really hilly! I was on day 6 now having ridden nearly 600 miles, so I wasn’t keen on lots of climbing. But you don’t have a choice so I just cracked on!

After passing over the M1 I headed towards Sheffield via Chapeltown which again was tough terrain. I spent ages trying to navigate the one way streets and pedestrianised areas towards the cathedral and was struggling to find a way in. Eventually though I climbed up to it via a lovely steep cobbled road called Paradise Street.

Sheffield Cathdral sits right next to the High Street with substantial grounds and areas for people to sit and chill. The sun was hot now and there were lots of folk milling around.

I was greeted inside by The Dean who showed me around and then took me to the cathedral cafe and bought me lunch. How kind!

The cathedral is currently hosting an art exhibition so I wasn’t permitted to take photos. There is a lovely light and modern west end which was added in the 60s and has recently been renovated. It had a really light and welcoming feel.


I climbed out via the steep Duke Street and passed Park Hill with its flats that are being renovated from this…

To this….

There were more hills as I headed out of Sheffield but once I crossed the M1 onto the A616 the road mercifully flattened out. So, I was able to crank up the speed as I passed places like Creswell and Sherwood Forest and eventually to Newark, where the castle looked amazing in the sunset reflected in the River Trent.


I checked into Premier Inn Newark, had some dinner there and then headed into town where I met an old musician friend, Jason Ashworth for a couple of pints of ‘Slap in the Face’ from local brewery Totally Brewed.

 On my long trips I have stayed overnight with friends and local B n Bs but I have found Premier Inns to be a good reliable choice when I wasn’t sure where to stay.

They are bike friendly (they allow you to take your bike to your room), comfortable and they offer the #goodnightguarantee which basically means they will offer a refund if you don’t get a good night’s kip.

Well…. I was sound asleep when I was rudely awoken by an ear-splitting fire alarm going off in my room at 4.00am! I got up and got dressed only to find out that it was a false alarm. I struggled to get back to sleep….

I brought this up when I checked out and apparently a guest had decided to have a shower at 4.00am and left the bathroom door open, which set the alarms off. Anyway…. I pointed out that I hadn’t had a very restful night and true to their word, Premier Inn refunded my room bill. So, fair play to them I say!

Next day was the final day and cathedral…

To donate to Rethink go here…

The Final Trip

I have now completed plans for my final trip to the remaining 14 cathedrals in my challenge.

I will set off on my 675 mile Northern Route on Sunday 27th of September and will arrive at my final cathedral, Peterborough on Saturday 3rd of October.

The cathedrals I will visit and approximate schedule is….

Lichfield Cathedral – 27/09/15

Chester Cathedral – 28/09/15

Liverpool Cathedral – 28/09/15

Manchester Cathedral – 28/09/15

Blackburn Cathedral – 29/09/15

Carlisle Cathedral – 30/09/15

Newcastle Cathedral – 30/09/15

Durham Cathedral – 30/09/15

Ripon Cathedral – 01/10/15

York Minster – 01/10/15

Bradford Cathedral – 01/10/15

Wakefield Cathedral – 02/10/15

Sheffield Cathedral – 02/10/15

Peterborough Cathedral – 03/10/15

Here is map of the rough route….

Northern Route

As usual I will be staying over in either B & Bs or with friends who have kindly offered to put me up. I intend to keep up my tradition of sampling local ales on my way round (it’s a hard life!), so please feel free to suggest any beers you think I should be drinking!

Join me for the Final Cathedral

All being well, I will reach the final cathedral, Peterborough at around 1.30pm on Saturday 3rd of October.

Peterborough Cathedral

As this is the conclusion of my challenge I would like to invite as many fellow cyclists as possible to join me on the ride into Peterborough for a final group photo outside the cathedral. This could make a great photo and will really help on a final push to reach my fundraising target of £4200. Total at time of writing is £3186.23.

For those that don’t know, I have undertaken this challenge in memory of my brother Allister who died in 2008 aged just 32 owing to mental health problems. So, all I ask is that anyone joining makes a minimum donation of £5 (but can be more!) to my chosen charity ‘Rethink Mental Illness’.

Or even better, why not create your own individual or club fundraising page and join my Just Giving Team? I will do my best to arrange for a FREE Rethink cycling jerseys for any that join my fundraising team.

Please note that I do not expect any further donations from those who have already donated or helped with fundraising but would love you to join me….

I will be starting out somewhere near Newark on this date, so people can either….

  • Meet me at Rasell’s Nurseries & Cafe in Little Bytham between 11.30am and 12.00pm. I will set off from here at noon.
  • Join me en route. I will still be publishing a tracker link.
  • Meet me at the cathedral.

So, whether you fancy coming on your own, with some friends, or with your local cycling club, please feel free to start organising your route to join me on Sat 3rd of October.

I will depart from Peterborough around 2.30pm on my final leg home to Oakham, followed by some well deserved ales in the evening.

Thanks for reading and please do spread the word!