On Friday, local cyclists in the UK will have the opportunity to embark on a pedal pilgrimage as part of the national ‘Cathedrals Cycle Route.’ This event, organised by the Association of English Cathedrals and Cycling UK, aims to promote sustainable travel, physical and mental well-being, and the exploration of historic cathedrals. Cyclists can choose between two routes: from Ripon Cathedral to Bradford Cathedral or from Bradford Cathedral to Wakefield Cathedral. All three cathedrals belong to the Diocese of Leeds in the Church of England.
In previous years, the Cathedrals Cycle Route relay covered all 42 English cathedrals. However, for 2023, a series of local routes has been planned. Some of these include a journey between Carlisle, Durham, and Newcastle, as well as rides starting at Peterborough and Rochester.
The cycling pilgrimage will commence at 10 am from Ripon Cathedral, with participants heading towards Bradford. A second leg will begin at Bradford Cathedral, leading cyclists to Wakefield. The two groups will meet at 1 pm for a 1:30 pm departure towards Wakefield. The Ripon to Bradford route spans nearly 40 miles, passing through Harrogate and Otley. The subsequent leg from Bradford to Wakefield covers a distance of 20 miles and includes a scenic ride along the Spen Valley Greenway to Dewsbury.
Individuals interested in taking part in the pilgrimage are encouraged to register their interest at ccr2023-leeds.eventbrite.co.uk.
The Cathedrals Cycle Route has garnered support from various organisations, including Sustrans, the British Pilgrimage Trust, and Northumbria University. Each cathedral involved in the route has appointed a dedicated cycle champion to enhance the cycle-readiness of their buildings, provide a warm welcome to visiting cyclists, and encourage more individuals to arrive at the cathedrals on two wheels.
The Revd Dr Philip Hobday, Sub-Dean at Wakefield Cathedral, expressed delight in participating in this year’s Cathedrals Cycle Route. He emphasised the partnership’s significance in promoting greener living and sustainable travel, values that align with Wakefield Cathedral’s award-winning Eco Group. Dr. Hobday extended best wishes to all participants and looked forward to welcoming them to Wakefield.
Maurice Manktelow, Bradford Cathedral’s Cycle Champion, shared his excitement about being part of the relay once again. He emphasised the cathedral’s readiness to welcome visitors, including provisions for bike parking and refilling water bottles. Manktelow saw the Cathedrals Cycle Route as an opportunity to connect and support communities while allowing visitors to appreciate the journey between cathedrals in addition to their architectural beauty.
The Cathedrals Cycle Route was conceptualised by Shaun Cutler, an academic, entrepreneur, and avid cyclist from Northumbria University. Cutler designed the route to facilitate reconnection and rediscovery, supporting people’s mental and physical health through pilgrimage, well-being, and heritage.
Visitors to the cathedrals, whether arriving on foot or by bike, are invited to obtain Pilgrim Passports, which can be stamped and stickered along their cathedral journey. Passports are available for purchase in the shop.
Cyclists will set off from Ripon Cathedral at 10 am or from Bradford Cathedral to Wakefield Cathedral at 1:30 pm. Interested cyclists are requested to register in advance through ccr2023-leeds.eventbrite.co.uk to provide organisers with an estimate of the number of participants and ensure a smooth start to the pilgrimage.