A Ride Around England: One man, his horse, 30 cathedrals and nearly 3,000 miles, with William Reddaway

In the spring of 2013, William, retired, unfit, unassisted, set off with his horse, Strider on a journey of 2,700 miles raising £70,000 for The Family Holiday Association (an Inner London Riding for the Disabled Group) and The Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre

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In the great eccentric British tradition of Cobbet’s Rural Rides or Defoe’s Journey through England by a Gentleman, William wanted to explore this country that he had lived in all his life, but that he knew – like most of us – only in parts. So, using the ancient cathedrals of England as fixed points, and visiting 30 of them, he circled his way about the land, raising huge sums for charity, testing himself & his valiant horse, & taking the temperature of the country & its odd inhabitants.

From Hereford & Gloucester up to Carlisle then back down from Durham via Winchester, Salisbury and Wells, William battled against traffic, a staggering absence of blacksmiths & an extraordinary lack of appropriate stabling – it would have been so much easier 100 years ago, even better 300 years ago . The natives, however, responded magnificently to the knock on the door at all times of day and night and the request for a bucket of water for Strider. Though William eventually came to the conclusion that animals in general, horses in particular, probably brought out the worst in him (in true Thelwell tradition), his contact with humanity was usually incredibly positive - from the wonderful hospitality of the public, to policemen that helped part the ways for him and bishops that welcomed him and Strider in to their cathedrals. This in direct contrast to William Cobbet who, some time after his own great ride, was planning a play entitled “Bastards in High Places”.

Also unlike Cobbet, William had no particular interest in turnips, and his greatest concern with the land was whether it went up or down too steeply. But after months of travel, out on the open road or through the crushed centres of great cities, William returned triumphantly home, philosophically improved though wrecked and weary, but with Strider fitter and fatter than ever.

There will be donations to the two main charities for which William Reddaway has raised more than £70,000 – The Family Holiday Association ( an Inner London Riding for the Disabled Group) and The Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre.

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William Reddaway

After a degree in history, Willam Reddaway worked for Unicef (United Nations Childrens Fund) with postings in Jakarta, South Sudan, Lucknow and New Delhi, where he lived for 6 years. Returning to the UK, he took an MSc in social planning for developing countries, & settled in Cheltenham with his family. Having ridden occasionally in India, he started riding lessons in the late 1990s and bought his own horse in 2002, often riding to work in the early mornings. As soon as he retired in 2013, after much exciting – though insufficient – late night planning, he set off on his Ride Around England.

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2015Martin Keeley