to rain on the day. Mostly drizzle, but an umbrella was
still needed. But were we downhearted? No, we were not.
We’d committed to doing this walk, and stalwarts that we
are, we were going to enjoy it! Five of us were
‘striding’ this year – Mary who planned the route,
Roger, Elaine, Ros and Dorrie. We signed in at St
Matthew’s at 10.00am and then it was a quick nip across
the Kettering Road to Kingsley Park Methodist Church –
our ‘friends across the road’. They provided us with
official day-glo stickers while we waited for Ros to
catch up as she’d had to go back to her car to get her
Off we set along Kingsley Park Terrace (‘The Front’).
There’s an abundance of churches on our way into town,
and next stop was St Michael’s. They share their
building with the Romanian Orthodox community and it was
fascinating to see their art around the walls of the
church and the CofE altar in close proximity with their
own shrine (there must be a proper name for this) –
anyway, see the photo. One of the most enjoyable parts
of doing this walk is discovering interesting things
about our neighbours.
Round the corner and across the road again, next was
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and then down the road to
Queensgrove Methodist Church. Here, as usual, we had our
coffee stop. Well, coffee and ginger cake, and a sit
down. So you see, this walk we do every year is not
arduous – it’s not a race to get as many churches ticked
off in the fastest time, it’s a social occasion for us!
Suitably refreshed, on we walked across the Mounts to
Holy Sepulchre; Elaine hadn’t been inside before, so it
was a revelation. It’s one of only four round churches
remaining in the UK, founded around 1100 AD. Last year
we were intrigued by the strips of sticky tape on the
floor with blobs drawn on – we were told it was to
indicate where the bell ringers stand, in a circle, as
they were going to have a new platform installed above.
Well, it’s all in place now.
Now for the bit of the route where we go off into the
unknown… in all the years we’ve been doing this walk,
Mary has never bothered to look at a map to see the best
way to get to Castle Hill URC, and we’ve never done it
the same way twice, and this year was no exception! This
time we really thought we’d lost it, but we’d come
around the back to it. Next year we really must remember
to bring a map.
While we were standing there chatting I thought I’d
check their booklet listing which churches were open, to
see if St Peter’s in Marefair was open this year, after
our experience last year (when we got to the open church
door we were told to ‘Shush’ as there was a service
going on, and that there was no-one to sign our sheet.
Very welcoming! St Peter’s was actually in the 2015
booklet). It wasn’t in this year’s booklet, but as I’d
been telling the lady on the desk why I was looking, she
was able to tell me that she’d had walkers in who’d come
from there, so we decided to give it a go. As we warily
went in we received a cheery “Welcome!” from the very
nice man on the door; he explained that he was there on
behalf of the Friends of Northampton Castle – their
Heritage Project Trail takes in St Peter’s – and was
more than happy to sign our form. He gave us a potted
history of the church too, good man!
So then it was up Gold Street to All Saints’, and
standing alongside it a row of Classic buses that give
free rides around the Heritage Weekend sites. They
didn’t look as if they were doing much trade, due to the
weather; in fact, we only saw one bus doing the rounds.
Ros left us here to get a bus back to St Matthew’s.
The rest of us made our way to St Giles’ where, as
usual, we stopped for a welcome lunch break. We had all
brought a packed lunch and enjoyed their hospitality,
and it was good to have an extended sit down. Roger’s
feet had had enough though and he left us here to get
his bus home, while our depleted band now walked on to
Victoria Road Congregational Church, which was another
that Elaine had never visited before, so she was having
a real voyage of discovery.
From here it’s quite a long walk along Billing Road to
Christchurch, where we saw Mary’s husband Bryan who
tried to entice us into his car… We girls were having
none of that!
On to the church in the park, St Peter and Paul,
Abington, then round the corner to Park Avenue Methodist
Church, where we met an old friend from St Matthew’s,
Debby De Haes; she said Chris was doing a cycle tour –
the first one we’d heard who was; people who would
normally go by bike had been put off by the weather and
were walking instead.
So, a bit weary now, we arrived back at ‘base camp’ at
around 3 o’clock – it’s always good to get back to St
Matthew’s and have a sit down and a cuppa (and more
cake), and hear about how they’d got on there. Christine
has written a separate report about their day. We
walkers had had a lovely day; plenty of socialising, not
just in the various churches, but also with other
walkers sporting the same day-glo stickers stopping and
chatting too. Like brothers-in-arms.
Between us walkers and Christine and her team, our
sponsorship will have raised in the region of £365 – you
can still add to that if you feel inclined, there’s
still time! Half of the money comes to St Matthew’s and
half to the Historic Churches Trust who organize the
event. St Matthew’s received a very substantial amount
from the Trust a few years ago for our major building
works, so it’s a good cause to support.
Ride+Stride is always on the second Saturday in
September; maybe you’ll join us next year?
Please find a selection of photos below.