On the move for ancient churches

Canon Henry Pearson plus bicycle outside St Andrew’s Church, Trent, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

Canon Henry Pearson plus bicycle outside St Andrew’s Church, Trent, Nr Sherborne, Dorset

More than 8,000 churches of all Christian denominations in England are set to open for Ride+Stride on 8 September 2012, a nationwide event to save historic churches.

About 20,000 cyclists and walkers are expected to take part in the day-long event which in 2011 raised over £1.3 million for the restoration of places of worship. As well as cyclists and walkers, also taking part in Ride+Stride will be sponsored runners, joggers, horse-riders and mobility scooter users. The majority of churches will be open between 10am and 6pm. Of course, there will also be the opportunity to relax and recharge between journeys, with most churches offering a display of snacks and drinks, from cakes and biscuits to home grown plums and orange squash.

Ride+Stride started in Suffolk in 1982, the idea of Judith Foord. Since then over £29 million has been raised nationally in what is one of the biggest ecumenical fundraising events of the year.

Oldest participants have included a 101 year old lady from Oxfordshire who walked between six churches in hilly countryside whilst the youngest are still in push chairs.

Ride+Stride is supported by The National Churches Trust, in partnership with County Churches Trusts nationwide. Keen cyclist and Channel 4 news presenter, Jon Snow, is the patron. He said: “Our churches have borne witness to centuries of fascinating and engaging news. They’re pivotal to our history and vital for communities. Cycling and sightseeing to stop Churches crumbling is something we can all do.”

In 2011, Ride+Stride raised over £1.3 million to help preserve some of Britain’s 47,000 churches, chapels and meeting houses. Cyclists and walkers raised money for their favourite church or chapel, as well as for the local Church Trust in the County in which they took part.

Sponsorship is based on the number of churches the participants plan to visit, the distance, area and timing of individual rides is entirely up to those taking part and can be as long or as short as desired. 

With some 8,000 churches due to be open, there is no shortage of fascinating places to visit. Cyclists and walkers in Cumbria might like to visit the charming Newlands Church based in the hamlet of Littletown; Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggy Winkle was dedicated to the Vicar’s daughter.

In Dorset, participants could head over to Loders’ St Mary Magdalene’s Church, to offer sympathy and support to its gargoyle with toothache.

In Essex Riders and Striders can join the male voice cycling quartet, Song Cycle, who will be singing and visiting churches in the Brentwood area.

Special Ride+Stride cycling routes are in place for 8 September. They include: in London, an off street route through East London from Barking Abbey to Waltham Abbey; spectacular routes through Cumbria taking in Penrith and Kendal; in Somerset a 30 mile Ten Towers Route starting at Wedmore St Mary; in Oxfordshire routes taking in villages around Didcot and Abingdon and in Leicestershire an organised walk, ride and run in the picturesque Hallaton, Allexton, Horninghold, Slawston and Tugby area.

Riders and striders in Wiltshire can picnic by Bremilham Church in Cowage farmyard, the tiniest church in the UK, which has one pew and seats four. Participants can find a church bell (in the tree) or a stone hedgehog (on the door) at St Nicholas Barfrestone, Kent. Look for carved pigs feeding in Little Malvern Priory, Worcestershire (on a monk’s arm rest).

For more information see: www.rideandstrideuk.org/

Tags: Ancient Churches, Ride 26 Stride

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