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Opening times

  • Sundays
    8am-5pm
  • Mondays to Fridays
    10-21 Sep: open for worship only
  • Saturdays and Bank Holidays
    10-21 Sep: open for worship only
  • FREE ENTRY

Cycling With Purpose

Shaun Cutler, PhD Student at Newcastle Cathedral and Northumbria University, tells us more about the Cathedrals Cycle Route, launching Sunday, 30 May, with a relay event: ‘Cycling With Purpose’.

A version of this article features in the June 2021 edition of Link, the monthly newspaper for the Diocese of Newcastle

Update: Once the relay sets off, you will be able to click here to track the riders’ progress in realtime.

Whichever English cathedral you visit this year, you will be able to arrive by bike thanks to a unique project, led by Newcastle Cathedral. In fact, Newcastle Cathedral, is at the very heart of a new partnership between Sustrans, Cycling UK and the Association of English Cathedrals, linking all 42 Church of England cathedrals via a new national cycle route. The project is one of the outcomes of a PhD research programme involving Newcastle Cathedral, Northumbria University and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Long-distance cycle routes in the UK have become hugely popular in recent years and it doesn’t come much longer than this one: the Cathedrals Cycle Route (CCR) stretches nearly 2,000 miles across England’s landscape, starting and ending at Newcastle Cathedral. However, the CCR is more than a challenging long-distance cycle route, it is about connecting our historic cathedrals and enjoying the spaces between them. It is about ‘Cycling with Purpose’ whatever your purpose… that purpose can be very different for different people. It could be for fitness, for mental health, for connectivity or for spiritual purposes.

For the cathedrals, 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.

We have all had an extremely difficult year and anything that provides the opportunity to build up our physical and mental health is welcomed. Apart from the obvious health benefits of getting active and reducing our reliance on polluting vehicles, cycling gives us time to think, to reconnect with the outside world, and to meet other people. Connecting the cathedrals in this way provides the cyclist with the opportunity to reflect and reconnect with an added dimension of depth, both spiritually and historically.

Cyclists from all 42 cathedrals will be taking part in a nationwide relay ride to launch the new route. The route is launching on 30 May to coincide with the start of Bike Week, the annual celebration of cycling delivered by Cycling UK.

The first group of cyclists will set out from Newcastle Cathedral, on Sunday 30 May and a group is expected to return to Newcastle 42 days later (weather permitting) having cycled to every Church of England cathedral. You will be able to click here to track the relay’s progress in realtime.

The teams will carry a bronze baton with two sculpted hands reaching towards each other. The ceremonial baton comes with a message: ‘some days you need a hand, other days you are called to lend a hand’. The message captures the spirit of the CCR, a spirit of togetherness in difficult times.

The relay event is encouraging people to cycle from cathedral to cathedral for their chosen charity or asking them to support Cycling UK’s Break the Cycle appeal, which aims to help improve people’s wellbeing through the charity’s community cycling clubs, activities and projects nationwide.


Details of all 42 legs of the Cathedrals Cycle Route can be found on the Cycling UK website. To read our previous interview with Shaun about the CCR, click here. Once the ‘Cycling With Purpose’ relay commences, you will be able to click here to track the riders in realtime.

Bike Week (30 May – 5 June 2021), delivered by Cycling UK, is an annual celebration to showcase cycling and how brilliant it is. Find out more at bikeweek.org.uk.

To keep up-to-date with Newcastle Cathedral’s involvement in the Cathedrals Cycle Route, be sure to sign up to our mailing list, to receive a monthly e-newsletter.