Last Saturday I set off on my bike with the target of visiting as many of Norfolk’s churches as possible before 5.00pm. This annual charity ride for the Norfolk Churches Trust has gone on for many years but this year seemed a good time to join in as they have just arranged a substantial contribution towards re-roofing our village church.
The weather was spectacular! Clear blue sky, hardly a puff of wind and comfortably warm temperatures made for a cyclist’s dream, and Norfolk is blessed with both a wealth of historic churches (650 of them) and a fabulous network of tiny country lanes to travel between them. I had struggled for a few days trying to plan a route and was extremely grateful when our revered Newsletter Editor passed on his routing experience which I found invaluable (including his tip for the church with the best food!).
The variety of church buildings is breathtaking, from the ancient Norman round towered sites such as Gissing to the brand new modernism of St Henry Morse Catholic Church in Diss, from the simple Baptist Chapels to the most ornate Angel Roofed classicism of the 15th Century.
My ride took me on a loop via Eccles and Quidenham to the south then a long stretch up to Hethel in the north before setting off back down to Diss where the churches are thankfully closer together. In the end I managed 38 visits and thanks to my very generous sponsors should have raised around £500 for the Churches Trust.
The real heroes of the day, however, were the lovely volunteer tellers who waited patiently in the churches to greet intrepid visitors with a smile, a drink of squash and a custard cream. Some were there in the tiniest of backroad hamlets from 9 till 5, only receiving a handful of visits, but they quietly got on with their Catherine Cooksons with no complaints.
I had a thoroughly enjoyable day and by the time I returned to our village I’d consumed 62 miles (and 38 custard creams).