Sunday, 19 April 2009

St Mary, Thame

Today was a good example of my self-imposed Jenkins quest at its best. The basic idea is that I use the bike to visit the best of England's churches (as chosen by Simon Jenkins). Each time I visit one, the next is a bit further away. So it forces me to discover new routes, and gradually increase my mileage.

I like old churches. They have been the heart of their communities for generations, and at their best they capture a unique atmosphere. Sometimes exploring my destination is an additional bonus. But when it comes to the crunch the main point of the quest is not the destination, it is the ride.

When I reached Thame, the church was locked. It looks impressive, and it sounds as though the interior would be interesting, but all I could see was the outside and the churchyard. I suppose I could have gone to find a key, but time was short, so I moved on.

Thame isn't very well covered on Open Street Map, and I think I will be able to add a few more streets. But my journey out to Thame, via Marlow and Stokenchurch, then back via Princes Risborough and High Wycombe is already well covered.

Lacey Green Windmill
It's now a common experience, on the long climb out of Marlow to be overtaken by someone older but fitter, who passes with a cheery "hello", at a much faster speed. Infuriating. Today was no exception.

On the return journey, along the Phoenix  trail from Thame to Princes Risborough, other cyclists  were mostly families. It was nice to see a wide age range, including little girls on pink bikes, little boys on bikes with lots of gizmos, and fathers on high-tech mountain bikes. Elsewhere the people on bikes were mostly what  I think of as "proper cyclists" with knobbly legs, and brightly coloured lycra.

Beyond Princes Risborough I rode past the windmill at Lacey Green, then RAF headquarters at High Wycombe. It's a lovely fast ride down a long descent from Lacey Green to High Wycombe.

So a special day. Fifty-odd miles in total. And all of this because I set out to visit a church in Thame, which wasn't even open when I got there. And why not?


Gregory Marler said...

It's been interesting following your visit to each church (it's been getting less frequent recently).

I'm starting to think maybe I should find a similar challenge, locally everywhere is mapped for OSM and cycling to the nearest Durham suburb isn't such a great goal as a long distance ride needs.

gom1 said...

Thanks Gregory. It's been a bit of a rough couple of months down here, what with weather, work, and family commitments, but I am getting back on track again slowly. You have some good places to visit round Durham though. Escomb, Jarrow, Monkwearmouth for churches. Or you could try something else. Anything would do as a goal. There is some pretty good industrial heritage around you. I had wondered about old Workhouses, this year as an alternative to churches. There is a web site here - if you are interested. It seemed appropriate in the current economic climate - but in the end I decided to stick with churches.