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Thursday 13th September 2007
Tollerton (near York) to Kirklington

And so begins the last leg of our English Cathedral trip.  We had planned to include Fountains Abbey in the ride for today, but having looked at the Ripon Cathedral web site beforehand, we saw that there was an art exhibition and a lunchtime concert, so we decided to call in at Fountains on the way up in the car.  I have included a photo of the Abbey - but bear in mind that this is a bit of a cheat!  It was a good job that we did this, as we found plenty to keep us occupied at the Abbey and in the surrounding park for over two hours, and we could have easily spent longer there.

The forecast for today is good but we expect the weather to deteriorate by the weekend - we shall see.  The route to begin with takes us from the village of Tollerton, across the River Ure at Aldwark Toll Bridge (no charge for bikes) and on through Great Ouseburn, Marton and Arkendale until we reach Staveley. Here we come across the church of All Saints which is open with an exhibition of "Angels through the ages".  As well as the more professional copies of famous paintings of angels adorning the walls of the church, there are also some lovely pictures of angels by local children.

We continue on after a brief interlude, skirting Burton Leonard and then through Bishop Monkton and into Ripon.  After purchasing our lunch at Sainsbury's we sit munching it in the park just a couple of hundred yards from the Cathedral.  On entering the Cathedral, one of the first people I spot is the Rev Malcolm Hanson - he was a moderator in the URC church for the Leicestershire and East Midlands area during the late 1980s and 90s and we got to know him fairly well during this time when our church was between ministers.  He is obviously busy so we decide to try and have a word with him later.  Decorating the walls of the Cathedral is an extensive art exhibition - a mixture of paintings and photographs.  Soon after 1pm the concert begins - but first free tea and sandwiches are provided.  As we had just eaten we gave the sandwiches a miss - but the tea is very welcome.  The piano concert is given by Nicholas Nowicki who graduated from the University of York in 2006.  He gives an excellent performance of pieces from Beethoven, Ravel and Chopin.  The Thursday lunchtime recitals are a regular occurrence at Ripon.

After the recital we get back to the serious business of looking around the Cathedral.  Ripon Cathedral has strong connections with St Wilfred.  He was educated at Lindisfarne (Holy Island), then travelled to Rome in 652 and on his return became abbot of a Benedictine monastry at Ripon.  He built a new church on the site whose crypt forms part of today's Cathedral.  In our tour round the Cathedral we also find out that Lewis Carroll's father was a canon here from 1852 to 1868 and that some of the carvings in the church are said to have inspired stories in his books.  The picture on the left is of the misericord showing a griffon chasing a rabbit, whilst another rabbit hides down a hole.  The other strange thing we notice is a carved hand which sticks out from the woodwork just below the organ - it was used to conduct the choir - and it still works!

It is time to leave - we managed to catch up with Malcolm Hanson during our visit and are reminded that he and his wife did a tour of the East Midlands District churches on their tandem back in the 90s.  We bump into him again as we leave the Cathedral and he wishes us well for our journey.  We are soon in the village of Kirklington to be welcomed by the owners of the B&B - they have gone to the trouble of clearing a space in the garage for us to store the bike overnight!  We are well looked after.

Mileage today 28.8 miles  Total mileage so far 515.4 miles

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