The Motorcycle Church Challenge

Withernwick, Holderness England

The Mediaeval Church Trail

We didn’t set out to bag a load of altars. It was by strange coincidence that my husband Richard discovered them on the internet, searching for interesting local places to go on his motorcycle. It was a list of 37 churches in Holderness, an eastern province of East Yorkshire (can’t get more east than this). A challenge in itself for a man who the previous year had radical cancer surgery and was expected to spend the rest of his life doing light exercise. Well, he was told ‘short’ journeys.

Within six weeks he had visited 100, and we were not only on a trail of Romans, Vikings and Crusading knights; it turned into a journey of life.  

Churches, Motorcycles and the Eternal

Well, maybe not forever. It’s more about being resilient to adversity. On our travels we met people with stories – of overcoming pain, living through wars, working hard and riding fast.

The churches all had their own ‘feel’ as well – each one different – ancient, ‘new’ (200 years old), towering, tiny, extravagant, or forgotten. All of them – apart from a couple that fell into the sea – surviving bombing, fashion, and decay. It resonated with us on such a personal level. In March 2022, we were told that Richard’s cancer had returned, and an urgent operation was needed to prolong his existence on this mortal coil. Cutting out the rot, like the stonemasons and carpenters did on these old buildings.

So we took to winding back roads with grass growing through tarmac, Richard on his motorcycle and me following in our old van, with Pickle, our deaf dog. I wrote a journal as we went, documenting places, people, history, building a picture not just of the past, but of how it affects life in the present. But I’m being too scientific in my explanation. It was also an emotional journey as I came to terms with my husband’s life-limiting condition.

Richard carried on to visit 122 churches travelling 2600 miles until his operation in July, delayed by pressures on the NHS and the surgeon contracting covid the day before.

As I write, he is going through chemotherapy, but is working on his cantankerous Norton, getting it ready for the next chapter.

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Hope you enjoy the journey!