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A Pilgrimage Without Moving

by glynch — last modified 22 Mar, 2018 07:23 PM

Dorset church rides hundreds of miles by bike - without leaving the building

A Pilgrimage Without Moving

The Revd Sarah Hillman, Vicar of Puddletown, contributes the 800km target. Photo (C) Rod Hughes.

A Dorset church is raising money to improve recreation facilities for young people in the village by cycling hundreds of miles – without leaving the building.

St Mary’s Church in Puddletown are cycling 800 kilometres, almost exactly 500 miles, during Lent on a static bike situated in the church.

This distance represents the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route from St Jean Pied de Port in France all the way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Anyone can come in, cycle a kilometre or more and enter it in their log book. And anyone can donate at

The idea is the brainchild of Emma Hughes, Secretary of St Mary’s PCC, who said, “I had the idea of cycling the Camino de Santiago on my mountain bike fixed onto a turbo trainer about a year and a half ago.

“This was following our Benefice weekend away, where Bishop Karen was our guest speaker. The theme for the weekend was ‘Walking the Way’ and on the Saturday evening we watched the film The Way. I have been very interested in the Camino de Santiago ever since.

“By chance I found a turbo trainer in a charity shop last Autumn and then it was a case of dusting off twenty years of cobwebs from my bike getting it ready to ride.

The plan was to cycle the Camino Frances route from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela which we rounded to 800 km, during Lent this year.

“We set the bike up in the church on Ash Wednesday along with instructions on how to reset the computer, a log book and a jar of lollipops to thank people for cycling.

“The idea is that people can drop into the church at any time it is open, cycle as much or as little as they wish and add to the running total of kilometres in the log book. Envelopes for donations are also provided.

“Originally the idea was just to set ourselves the challenge of cycling the distance, but then we thought why not raise money at the same time?

“We decided to raise funds through donations and sponsorship for the Puddletown Playpark. Phase 1 of the playpark is nearly complete with the construction last year of the new children’s playground. Phase 2 is to build a skatepark for the older children. The church events committee is also donating the profits from our village monthly lunches this year to the same cause.

“So far we have reached 400 kilometres and have just over a week to reach our ‘destination’, which is doable, but we need more people to come and cycle, and support our congregation.

“Our cyclists have aged between five years old (with help) and eighty.

“If we fail to reach Santiago de Compostela by Easter Day, we will continue cycling until we make the 800km.

“The challenge fits in well with our Lent study course this year, as we are following the book The Long Road to Heaven by Tim Heaton, a priest in our Diocese, which is based on the film The Way.”

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