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!

The Grind Home – SW Day 7

I set off from Hereford at 10.30am with 3 final cathedrals in sight; Worcester, Birmingham and Coventry.

I hadn’t decided where to stop. Birmingham was only 60 miles. I didn’t fancy staying in Coventry and after that it seemed a bit crazy to pay for a hotel so near to home. So, I decided to crack on and see if I could possibly make the 3 visits and the 125 miles home.

I made pretty swift progress to Worcester via some lovely back roads which kept me well away from traffic and through some picturesque countryside with views of the Malvern Hills to the south…


I rolled into Worcester at about 12.30pm and took in the view over the River Severn towards the cathedral. Inside was impressive!


  
  
I never cease to be amazed by the massive errors of judgement that town planners and councils make. Worcester is a classic example where they thought it a good idea to develop this beauty right opposite a building with roots from 680!


Conscious of the time, I jumped back on the bike and headed up the A38 to Birmingham. I made myself stop for food and refreshment at a convenient roadside cafe called Sampson’s between Droitwich and Bromsgrove. Angie who served me was sympathetic to my fundraising cause and kindly made a donation which was very sweet of her.


I wasn’t looking forward to cycling in and out of Birmingham, and rightly so. It was the least enjoyable part of my whole trip. Cycling can be challenging in lots of ways and urban riding is certainly that. No cyclist would choose it for fun. You have to keep your wits about you at all times and have eyes in the back of your head. But hey… cycling into cities is part of my challenge so I just got on with it!

I messaged a cycling mate from the Rutland area called John Hunt who works in Birmingham; 200 yards from the cathedral in fact! So, we hooked up at the cathedral – which was closed for refurbishments – and had a quick coffee before I marched on to Coventry…


  

I took the A45 out of Birmingham which wasn’t too bad apart from a very busy section around the airport and M42. Once I was passed that I took some back roads and dropped into the centre of Coventry.

It took me a little while to find the cathedral as there are a number of churches and spires in town.

For those that don’t know the history, St Michael’s Church was built in the 14th/15th centuries and was elevated to cathedral status in 1918 when Coventry Diocese was created. That building was heavily bombed during the Coventry Blitz in 1940 and basically only a ruined shell remains.

A new St Michael’s Cathedral was completed in 1962 with large pillars and a cross that adjoin the original building, effectively making one larger entity. I found this very powerful and was struck by it immediately.

The inside of the modern building was something else though. It’s huge and has a modern design that reminded me slightly of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The contemporary stained glass window is breathtaking. I love the history that comes with the older cathedrals but it showed me that they don’t necessarily need to have that heritage to be impressive. Not to me anyway….


  
  
  
It was just after 5pm and 50 miles home. I worked out that I should be able to do it in 3 hours or so and get back to Oakham before dark so I went for it!

It started off ok but about 30 miles from home near South Kilworth I hit the wall and bonked (that’s what cyclists call running out of energy BTW!). So, I stopped and ate all the flapjack and bars I had and pushed on.

Then it started raining. Heavily. The miles were clocking up so slowly. I just had to keep thinking that if my legs were spinning I was getting closer to home. I felt dizzy and was almost hallucinating! I was cold, soaked and exhausted. This was without a doubt the hardest 30 miles of the whole trip.

I finally made it to the top of Cold Overton hill and shouted out loud ‘YES! You did it’ and rolled down into Oakham and the Grainstore for a well earned pint!

Summing Up

In the end I visited 11 cathedrals on this leg of my tour, by cycling a total of 721.6 miles and climbing 40,180 feet of hills in 7 days.

Here are the links to the routes for each day….

Day 1 – Oakham to Hungerford

https://www.strava.com/activities/363537551

Day 2 – Hungerford to Bridport

https://www.strava.com/activities/364436530

Day 3 – Bridport to Tavistock

https://www.strava.com/activities/365262237

Day 4 – Tavistock to Truro and Newquay

https://www.strava.com/activities/365948340

Day 5 – Newquay to Glastonbury

https://www.strava.com/activities/366771328

Day 6 – Glastonbury to Hereford

https://www.strava.com/activities/367690283

Day 7 – Hereford to Oakham

https://www.strava.com/activities/368345789

I know it sounds like torture to some readers but I really enjoyed it! Apart from loving cycling, I loved reminding myself what a beautiful country we live in and how naturally kind people are. If you think the opposite then I strongly suggest getting out more…

I’d like to pay special thanks to all the people that allowed me to stay over, fed me, washed and dried my kit etc. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks also to the team at Rethink for their support all my way round. And finally thanks to my wife Belinda, who held the fort at home/work. I couldn’t do any of this without you.

I have now visited 28 of the 42 cathedrals on my list, so just 14 to go now!

My next journey will be the Northern Route up to Carlisle and Newcastle with a total of 13 cathedrals. I intend to do this at the end of September and beginning of October, which will just leave Peterborough to do!

I hope you’ve enjoyed following my miles around the South West as much as I have riding them!

D x

Rethink Fundraiser of the Month!

Just a quick post to announce that Rethink Mental Illness have made me their Fundraiser of the Month! I’m very grateful to them for doing that and increasing the awareness of my challenge. Hopefully this will help to spur some more cyclists to support me and others to donate to the cause.

Read the full article >>