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…