It’s been over a week since my cycling tour of the Abbeys of Yorkshire came to an end . A beautiful tour , a tour about being and not about achieving . How many miles and how high I climbed in total is not the issue. The space to think, to enjoy ,to find, to pray,to be was the purpose .And that was fulfilled.
Yes, I’d love to be an expert on each Abbey , so feel the highs and the lows of those who lived there. To see the learning ,hospitality ,charity and love of the great monasteries. To hear the tales of failure and fear and isolation as a community diminished. It cannot be , that the Abbeys of Yorkshire , over four hundred years , led a uniform existence of peace and holiness , happiness and contentment. It cannot be, that as Henry VIII saw fit to dismantle monasteries , each monk or nun was in error . Some , maybe , had drifted away from biblical and apostolic truth , but many , may we dare to believe, were believers and followers of truth. So much remains in history and mystery.
I loved the nature , the owl, the deer, the otter and the gulls. the shoreline and the wild moor, the city and the reclaimed coal field. I loved the ruin , held static by English Heritage and the living ex monastery or nunnery in private care as a private dwelling . We salute the private owners with so great a responsibility to protect , nourish , cherish and preserve our history.
And the speed of my cycling brought a peace and thoughtfulness to the journey. A time for reflection and acknowledgement of the greatness of the institution of monasteries and nunneries and a thankfulness that the rhythm and heartbeat of prayer continues to flow out to God and into our world
The home from home cycle tour of the Abbeys of Yorkshire is finished
( except Nun Monkton…I haven’t forgotten you,and shall cycle over in the next few weeks).Thank you to all my wonderful supporters.You have been family and friends,financial emotional,physical and spiritual supporters.Thank you .
At Ripon,I felt an overwhelming sadness that the trip was nearly over and thought that Fountains or Bolton would make me very sad.Emotions are strange and unpredictable and having feared an over busy Fountains would be intrusive ,it was a delight to see crowds of people enjoying themselves ,treading the place of so many before them.It was good to be a happy and bustling monastery again. Different times and perhaps some differnt needs, but still with plenty of places of peace and people finding inspiration from those called by Christ to follow him.At Bolton Priory, I was not sad.I had my husband with me and it is here where we were married.I was also nearly home.
In Wensleydale ,the usefulness of Marrick Priory ,accessible by zip wire and a place of holiday and adventure today ,is a positive and fulfilling use of old buildings.The nearby ruins of Ellerton Nunnery are located in a private garden.Small, beautiful and important they are maintained by private individuals as a remembrance of the nation’s heritage. Watton and Newborough Priories , near Bridlington and Byland , respectively are simply private houses bearing the cost of the heritage and privilige.We need to be grateful that families will maintain these places and use them.
As I finish this trip , I have much much more to share,everyday stuff and thoughtful stuff and spiritual stuff,the surprises,frights and the kindness of people.This story Home from Home is simple.If you want true cycling adventures ‘Cycling home from Siberia’ is the most wonderful book http://roblilwall.com/about/adventurer/cyclinghome. By a geography teacher that was.
Did I keep the rule of Benedict?..It is hard and sometimes harsh but as to rules and wisdom Psalm 19 has great advice.I like to know what is better than gold and better than honey. Psalm 19 as read in Selby Abbey on my second morning .
” The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer
May some resonance be found by all of you in this rule.
A cycling helmet is not a ‘Kill me Quick ‘ hat . Ministry of Transport do you really expect cyclists to travel down the A19 dual carriageway? Yes you do ! Mount Grace disgrace . So rather sadly I was restricted to sitting high above Mount Grace Priory , but eating a Bettys quiche.
Friday started early with matins in York Minster . Held in a side chapel ,it was hard to locate . The nave empty ,I stood completely alone with the vast history of that place . The distant human sound was confused with the echo . The service was simple but a very special start to the day
St Mary’s Abbey at York is a peaceful city park with plenty of flowers and trees and the river which were all at their best .Too early for breakfast in York and with a train to catch it was worth joining the early gathering queue to enjoy Bettys Northallerton.
Mount Grace , Easby and dramatic Richmond were followed by Egglestone ,Barnard Castle and the A66 provided another conundrum of access by bicycle .Yes , briskly over the A66 between 40 ton trucks is what is expected .. Or cycle it . A lovely local lycra lad ( well my age) confirmed my route as the only option . At Moulton, too ,near Richmond small country roads are just left to go nowhere or lead to long detours via main roads around the A1 .A kind lady of Moulton said some folks climb the crash barrier to cross the A1 on foot . These are problems solved by a few bridges but woefully missing in planning .So kind was this lady , signposted an alternative way and she sponsored me.
https://www.justgiving.com/Fiona-Schneider3/. Please join her
As you see I have power again. Another day in a shining jacket , tolerated by good folks in Redmire who lavished tea and cake upon me , was followed by my Knight in shining armour with Charger treating me to dinner.Thank you ,Jens. Onward to Bolton Priory to meet there again . With a few more abbeys between for me ,nameley No 26 Coverham ,then Jervaulx,Ripon,Fountains and Bolton .I am on my way .
I phone Charger left behind .Always good to know human energy goes on .Fearfully and wonderfully made . Service will resume shortly Psalm 71 for a good read. Back when I get power
Sometimes I want to tell people I’m a nun.Quite why a blank look compells me to misbehave I shall leave to the psychologists. But I thought such deception would be obvious from my luminous yellow appearance .Apparently not, as the desk lady at Rievaulx explained and told me about a new nunnery at Wass bank .This prayer thing really has meaning across the ages . Hilda of Whitby was a great pray-er and a highly respected lady of international repute . The rhythm of prayer of monastic life is becoming popular again today .
But I’m tired. Yes ,of couse I am a weeny bit physically tired ,but I’m really tired of my HV Jacket and helmet hair.Blending in is only possible in an almost flowering rape field and I’ve left those behind long ago with Hockneyd Tall Trees . The luminous yellow clashes with gorse and daffodils and is not an attractive evening out in Scarborough jacket. Needs must. It has become a ‘let’s do hand luggage only”type of coat and so how to carry it other than wearing becomes a bulky problem . So my dear coat which I have owned for less than a week Is a sort of friend .It certainly acted as counterpoint to the dark Goths of Whitby and the black robes of Ampleforth . But no wonder Ms Pendleton loves the attention from P&G , as even worse is hair longterm under a helmet.
Helmet hair is horrible .
It was another exceptionally fabulous day today .No honey,but no baked beans (hoorah) and a great coffee breakfast .Prayer in the crypt at Lastingham was an early highlight A really special place to set the wheels of the day in motion .On to always amazing Rievaulx ,the living community at Ampleforth(they practice the Bendedictine Rule of hospitality…great cakes) Byland the beautiful and Newburgh Priory . With such a great cluster of abbeys and a nunnery I was already late .No matter .The people were great today
A Workman for English Heritage took a great interest in my trip checking my itinerary . I needed to confess to him about Nun Monkton. No way are you forgotten, nor will you be ignored NM , but you will be my warm down as Sawley was honoured to be my warm up . You’ll see me coming a mile off Luminously yellow from Ilkley.
And then the ‘that’s embarrassing’ and ‘that’s really interesting’ meeting. Adorned as ever ,Mrs super luminous entered the driveway of Newburgh Priory. With an artistic flourish of the i phone I captured the private house for Facebook. ‘May I help you ?’ said a voice ‘We are closed ‘. Disappointed , I nerdishly told him my mission . Alas , it remained closed but I challenged him , in a manner reminiscent of A.AMilne’s tumbling bear “Are you perchance Mr Wombwell?” and he was . Not such a strange question when Byland boasts the Wombwell Arms and the family bought Byland and Newburgh at the dissolution of the monasteries . I was happy he had not read my rhubarb blog where I clearly dislike the name WW.Once upon a time the family owned the coal mines in Wwell ( must I write that again) and had enough money to buy monasteries. I’ve promised to come back on an open day. As Mr W said , it is far older and more important historically than Castle Howard
On to Malton priory If all my acting mothers had been with me I could have reverted to child and queried our ETA in ‘are we there yet ?’ whine. 20 miles seems further in the afternoon than morning .It was an ever changing altitude ride but such amazing sights to see.Violets,primroses,woodpeckers, deer ,owl rabbits , woodruff , celendine at my feet .Sadly , two dead badgers .
Show and tell could go on and on and on…
Thank you for your support .A helpful direction giving taxi driver gave me sponsorship money. The kindness of strangers Thank God
Family and friends You are wonderful . Jens ,’Thank you’ for a new lightweight bike and dates for blue sky cycling .Like my lovely biking friend yesterday ,I have carried a lot of precious stuff ,two sons,on my oldtimer . Sentimental bike bonds are not appropriate climbing a 1in4 away from the coast . But those sons made me believe I could long distance cycle by inviting me on half of David’s JoG to LE trip in 2007 .And the abbeys? I wouldn’t be doing this if Jens had not found a great big book on the abbeys of Yorkshire . That is the basis of this trip . So of course I miss them , but Yorkshire has become an introvert’s heaven for a week . Oh and our dogs? I caught up with a wonderful pack of intelligent fox hounds .30 of them to stroke. So yes, when I saw a couple with two black labradors we had a dog and abbey conversation.
But to the people whom I did meet, the abbey interest is awakening . Teachers, shopkeepers and a fellow cyclist who slowed down to chat a while as we rode .He wasn’t a lycra guy , who mostly seem too earnest to give a nod . Beware Andrew Marr .
I loved the primary school teacher at Whitby today. She enthused her class with great tales of history ,Hilda and Protestants. I told her about my 8th birthday on a school trip to Kirkstall with Mrs Brown. Never forgotten.
I loved the waitress at breakfast .She really did ask ‘Tea or coffee’ . Coffee’ I confidently grinned and was not disappointed
And those great texting ,FB photo liking and retweeting friends .You do make my pedals turn a little faster. Thank you
Today was a real milk and honey day but maybe not for my friends living below the poverty line for five days.Diet and energy filled my thoughts . Honey and milk are keeping me pedalling and my lovely waitress gave me mini jars to fuel me to Rosedale tonight. Could you live on that with an apple carrot and banana for under five pounds? It would need to be cheap honey but it has perfect sweetness and milk perfect balance . It sounds monastic .Rule 39 of Benedict ‘ there is nothing so inappropriate for a Christian as overindulgence ‘ Well done , friends for highlighting this .
Rievaulx to York tomorrow. Goodnight