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A BEACON OF LIGHT
The Cathedrals Cycle Route 2022
And they’re off! The second national Cathedrals Cycle Route Relay began at Newcastle Cathedral on Monday 6 June 2022, coinciding with the start of Bike Week, Cycling UK’s annual celebration of cycling.
Anyone can ride the Cathedrals Cycle Route, cycling part of the way between one or two cathedrals or attempting the whole of the 2,000-mile loop.
Stickers or stamps are available to collect from each cathedral for people’s Pilgrim Passports. You can buy yours from Newcastle Cathedral’s retail area, which is open Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm and Saturdays, 11am-3:30pm.
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, met with the architect of the route in Newcastle and said: “I think it was a fantastic idea that Shaun Cutler had in linking up all our wonderful cathedrals in a cycle route.
“Showcasing the architecture and worshipping communities, raising money for charities and those in need, as well as keeping fit – what’s not to like!
“Whether people are cycling to their local cathedral only or visiting all 42, I wish them God’s speed and kind weather on their pilgrimages,” he added.
Pictured above: the Archbishop of York with the commemorative bronze baton which will be passed between the 42 Church of England cathedrals.
The route was first launched in 2021, raising funds for mental health charities, and this year, cathedral teams will be raising funds for Alzheimer’s UK, Cancer Research and other local good causes.
The relay is following the route in reverse this time around, and fellow cyclists are expected to return to Newcastle Cathedral 42 days later (weather permitting!).
Most cathedrals now have a dedicated cycle champion to improve the cycle-readiness of their building and ensure a warm welcome for visiting cyclists in a bid to increase the number that currently arrives on two (or three!) wheels.
Newcastle Cathedral’s cycle champion is Canon Clare MacLaren, with The Revd Benjamin Jarvis standing in this summer while Clare is on sabbatical.
As part of its historic transformation, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Newcastle Cathedral has installed new cycle stands, and help will be available to fill water bottles.
The recently created East Terrace is an ideal spot to take a breath once you’ve arrived.
It is the invention of academic, entrepreneur and keen cyclist Shaun Cutler, Newcastle Cathedral’s PhD student from Northumbria University, and was designed to help us all out of lockdown with opportunities for short cycle rides between cathedrals, new partnerships and fundraising for activities to support physical and mental wellbeing.
Shaun said: “The Cathedrals Cycle Route is about connecting our historic cathedrals and enjoying the spaces between them.
“The last few years have seen a lot of change, the Cathedrals Cycle Route is a great way to rediscover and reconnect, supporting people’s mental and physical health and promoting the mission of England’s cathedrals through pilgrimage, wellbeing and heritage.”
Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK’s chief executive said: “Bike Week 2022 is all about how communities can benefit from travelling around their local area by bike.
“This year, we’re encouraging people to join or organise an inclusive group ride to celebrate the benefits of cycling. Participants can log their rides for a chance to win amazing prizes.
“For anyone looking for inspiration for their Bike Week, riding the unique Cathedrals Cycle Route is a fantastic option. This collection of carefully curated routes run across England, offering incredible views of the countryside and connecting cathedral cities.”
This article is an updated version of one already published by the Association of English Cathedrals.