A Quintessentially English Day Out!

by Gerry Lynch last modified 20 Aug, 2014 03:22 PM

People Across Wiltshire and Dorset gear up for this year's Ride+Stride

A Quintessentially English Day Out!

Bratton's cyclists had a great day out in 2013!

Churches and volunteers are gearing up to take part in a quintessentially English day out, as Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville described this year’s Ride+Stride event, which will take place on Saturday 13 September.

In Ride+Stide, people all over the country walk, horse-ride or cycle between churches, exploring and enjoying the countryside. The money raised all goes to helping to preserve historic churches in the county where the participants live. Looking after historic buildings is an expensive task, and if neglected they start falling into serious disrepair.

Lord Brooke, an active churchgoer in the Nadder Valley benefice, said, “It’s hard to imagine a more quintessentially English day out than Ride+Stride – participants can obviously stride around on foot, while those riding can use either horses or bicycles. It allows people to see the wonderful architecture and heritage in these historic buildings, and many of the churches will provide a bun or a glass of lemonade.

“Last year, I spent all day walking a circuitous route from Fonthill Gifford to Fonthill Bishop, with an old university friend and our dogs. For long periods, we were deep in the countyside, walking through huge prarie fields.

“It’s a great day out for families. Many of our participants are under 18 and, as an incentive, there are prizes, including cash prizes, for young people who do particularly well.”

There is no official route and participants seek sponsorship to visit as many, or indeed as few, as they feel able. Sponsorship is split between the county Historic Churches Trust and the participant's nominated church.

Dorset and Wiltshire are filled with spectacular church heritage and the event presents an opportunity to explore the history and architecture of churches, some of which are not regularly open. Over 500 churches across towns and villages will be open throughout the day, providing refreshments and a well-earned rest for hard working riders and striders, alongside the opportunity to admire the history and heritage of these churches.

One regular participant is Raymond Samways, who lives in Laverstock. Raymond said:

“I’ve been participating for 20 years, and even through I’m now 84 years old, I have no intention of stopping. Ride+Stride is a great way of keeping active in your later years, and it’s always a brilliant day out as well.

“I had a stroke three years ago and had to miss two events, but I walked for last year’s Ride+Stride and am well into planning for this year’s event.

“I’m might get on my bike, which is how I’ve usually done the event, but I’m investigating whether I might manage to spend the day in a pony and trap!

“I’ve met some real celebrities doing Ride+Stride. I bumped into Prince Charles at Great Durnford Church, where he was attending a christening, and I’ve also met Sting having a stroll through Lake.

“My favorite churches are in the Wylye Valley, partly because I did a lot of my growing up there. I started singing in St Mary the Virgin in Wylye when I was 9. Apart from that, the Italianate Church in Wilton is obviously special, and so is the interior of St George’s in Harnham.”

The Dorset side of the event is being sponsored by regional law firm, Porter Dodson, with offices in Sherborne and Dorchester. That means the distinctive yellow Ride+Stride T-Shirts will be given out to cyclists taking part in Dorset.

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