Winchester Cathedral part of new 2,000-mile cycle route set to be launched in Bike Week

April 22, 2021

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As part of a unique partnership between the Association of English Cathedrals, the British Pilgrimage Trust, Cycling UK and Sustrans, all 42 Church of England Cathedrals, including Winchester Cathedral will be linked by a new 2,000-mile loop route.

A small group of cyclists will launch the route with a relay event, setting out from Newcastle Cathedral on Sunday 30th May to coincide with the opening day of Bike Week. Winchester Cathedral will be part of legs 24 and 25 of the relay – from Portsmouth to Winchester and from Winchester to Salisbury.

The 2,000 mile Cathedrals Cycle Route is the invention of academic, entrepreneur and keen cyclist Shaun Cutler, from Northumbria University. The initiative has been designed to help people transition out of lockdown with opportunities for short cycle rides between cathedrals, as well as enabling new partnerships and fundraising for physical and mental well-being activities. 

Shaun, who has worked with Newcastle Cathedral, Sustrans, Cycling UK and the British Pilgrimage Trust to design the cycle 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 event will transport a specially commissioned baton around the whole route, which will be passed along to different groups of cyclists at each cathedral, who can join the ride for as little or as long as they like. The relay event will raise money for 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 across the UK.

Sarah Mitchell, Chief Executive of Cycling UK, said: “This year’s Bike Week event is all about how cycling boosts well-being: 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 projects 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.

As part of the initiative, Winchester Cathedral has appointed a dedicated cycle champion who will be responsible for improving the cycle-readiness of the building, to ensure a warm welcome for visiting cyclists and to increase the number of people that arrive on two wheels.

Alison Evans, Chief Operating Officer at Winchester Cathedral, said: “We are delighted to be part of the Cathedrals Cycle Route and to support an initiative that contributes to the wellbeing of the whole City. It is a great opportunity to promote mental and physical wellbeing and create new links to healthier activities and sustainable travel.”

You can find the cycle routes for every cathedral here