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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Cathedral to cathedral by bike

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

The Pioneers are greeted at Rochester Cathedral

A 'pilgrimage' by bicycle was given an Anna Chaplaincy blessing as keen cyclists set off from Rochester to cycle the 40 or so miles to Canterbury… and back again, over last weekend.

A dozen cyclists from the Pioneer Cycling Club of Cheriton, Hampshire, gathered outside the doors of Rochester Cathedral on Saturday (22 August 2020) to be met by the Chancellor, Canon Dr Gordon Giles, and the UK's only Anna Chaplain based in a cathedral, Licensed Lay Minister, Christine Bostock.

Gordon Giles and Chris Bostock

I may not have been among the cyclists, but I was driving the team's support vehicle armed with First Aid kit, water and plentiful supplies of high calorie snacks! It was delightful to be greeted in Rochester by Gordon and Chris. She then took us on a socially distanced private tour of the cathedral before we were sent off on the road to what they describe as 'the other place' with a prayer of blessing for fine weather, good health and no mechanical mishaps.

In all more than 90 miles were covered, and apart from a strong wind and a short shower cycling conditions were near ideal. We stayed overnight at the beautiful Cathedral Lodge Hotel in Canterbury Cathedral Close and also enjoyed worship, a service of Evensong and a private tour of the cathedral, which included the magnificent crypt, thanks to the Canon Librarian, the Revd Dr Tim Naish. Warm thanks to all who made our pilgrimage to both historic cathedrals so interesting and meaningful.

It was a pleasure to be in the diocese again which, until recently, held the record for the most Anna Chaplains in the country, now only surpassed by Newcastle Diocese and the north-east as a whole.

Canterbury Cathedral - view from the Archbishop's seat

We passed many town and country churches along the way, some of which feature in Simon Jenkins' best selling book England's Thousand Best Churches (Allen Lane, 1999). All of which though, somewhat frustratingly, were closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Gordon Giles is, of course, a popular BRF author. He's written At Home in Lent: An exploration of Lent through 46 objects (BRF, 2018) and I'm in the process of reading and reviewing his latest book At Home in Advent: A domestic journey from Advent to Epiphany to be published next month.

The Pioneers – a club with a long history of cycling ever since the machine was invented – have specialised in trips to some of England's finest cathedrals and more such pilgrimages are planned.

Organiser, Club Honorary Secretary, Richard Perkins, said, 'What a wonderful weekend, well cycled and driven. Reckon it was about 93 miles in the end so 1,116 miles pedalled and no punctures (apart from the wasps) and we didn't get lost too many times. We thoroughly enjoyed the Kent countryside and villages.'




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