A new cycle route linking every English cathedral is set to be launched in Bike Week, thanks to a partnership between the Association of English Cathedrals, the British Pilgrimage Trust, Cycling UK and Sustrans.
It will link all 42 Church of England cathedrals in a new initiative to promote greener travel and mental and physical wellbeing.
The 2,000-mile Cathedrals Cycle Route is the invention of academic, entrepreneur and keen cyclist Shaun Cutler from Northumbria University and is designed to help us all out of lockdown with opportunities for short cycle rides between cathedrals, new partnerships and fundraising for physical and mental wellbeing activities.
Cutler and a small group of cyclists will launch the route with a relay event, Cycling With Purpose, setting out from Newcastle Cathedral, the most northerly Anglican Cathedral, on 30th May. The relay will coincide with the World’s Biggest Bike Ride, marking the opening day of Bike Week.
Cutler, who has worked with Newcastle Cathedral, the British Pilgrimage Trust, Cycling UK and Sustrans to design the 42 linked routes, said: “The Cathedrals Cycle Route is about connecting our historic cathedrals and enjoying the spaces between them. Now more than ever, after a year of living with the coronavirus pandemic, 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.”
The relay ride will transport a specially commissioned baton around the whole route passing along to different groups of cyclists at each cathedral who can join the ride for as little or as long as they like, with a group returning 42 days later (weather permitting) having cycled every Church of England cathedral. It will raise money for Cycling UK’s Break the Cycle appeal.
Sarah Mitchell, chief executive of Cycling UK, said: “This year’s Bike Week event is all about how cycling boosts wellbeing: physical, mental and emotional. 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.
“Our community-based projects, activities and groups around the country help people come together to ride, to chat, and to learn a skill that gives them mobility and independence, and we are delighted that the launch of this route will also raise funds to help this valuable work.”
It is hoped that the relay ride will become an annual event and will encourage more and more people to get on their bikes this year and beyond. Each cathedral aims to have a dedicated cycle champion to improve the cycle-readiness of their buildings, ensure a warm welcome for visiting cyclists and increase the number who arrive on two wheels – currently around 5%.