York Cycle Rally: stage 6 (141km)
A very early start, and a chance to slip into Lincoln Cathedral before the ticket offices were open. I don’t know about you, but I have an instinctive (and inexplicable) aversion to paying exorbitant fees to see a little bit of our own architectural history, especially when it is a place of worship and would ordinarily be open to the public anyway. They need to take a lesson from Selby Abbey.
Like Ely Cathedral, it’s a bit like the ‘ship of the fens’…..situated on a high hill in the city, it dominates everything and can be seen for 20-30 miles across the countryside. In fact, until 1549 (when it collapsed) its 160 metre spire made it the tallest building in the world.
Being a National Trust member, I targeted Belton House, near Grantham, to stop for lunch and pay a visit to the house. Though the house was officially closed for the day, guided tours were given of the ‘downstairs life’. Whatever you see on Downton Abbey, take it with a pinch of salt. The below stairs way of life for the servants was much more rigid and severe.
At the end of the tour, we were ushered into the silver vault, and shown the silver service set that Margaret Thatcher (once a near neighbour of the Brownlow Family) had commandeered for use in Downing Street. Apparently, they had much difficulty retrieving it once she had left office!
The end of ‘stage 6’ of my York Cycle Rally marked the end of my little adventure. Six fascinating days, averaging over 80 miles a day, and covering just under 500 miles in total. For me the bicycle is a form of transport for exploring the world, and not just for the circular journeys I do so frequently from my home which, apart from the buzz they afford, reduce the purpose of the bicycle to merely that of an exercise machine. But, of course, that’s the very purpose so valued by the hundreds of thousands of club riders and sportive riders the world over…….so let’s not belittle it too much