Flame visits one of Britain's great cathedrals

July 11, 2012 - 7:40 AM

Britain OLY London 2012 Torch

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, second left, her husband Prince Philip, second right, London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe, right, and seventy four year-old Olympic torch bearer Gina Macgregor, left, at Windsor Castle, Windsor, England Tuesday July 10, 2012. The London 2012 Olympic Games will start on July 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Ben Stansall, Pool)

LONDON (AP) — The Olympic flame is visiting one of Britain's great cathedral cities Wednesday, winding its way through Winchester on its journey around the British isles.

The relay is covering 8,000 miles (12,900 kilometers) across the country ahead of the July 27-Aug. 12 Olympics. Organizers say the flame should come within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of 95 percent of the U.K.'s population, but it is also highlighting the country's best known tourist attractions.

Winchester Cathedral, the longest Medieval cathedral in Europe, has become a site of pilgrimage for fans of author Jane Austen, who is buried there.

The flame ends its travels Wednesday in Salisbury, another great cathedral city. One of the surviving copies of the Magna Carta— a 13th century document that lays out personal liberties — is housed within the Chapter House and has been on public display for the last 25 years.

The trip came after a banner day for the Olympic torch on Tuesday: It visited the queen at Windsor Castle, was carried by the man who broke the 4-minute mile and by Britain's greatest Olympic rower and even got a passing glance at a streaker.

Queen Elizabeth II held an unopened umbrella as Gina Macgregor, a sodden 74-year-old runner, carried the torch to the castle. The Duke of Edinburgh also welcomed the torch team to the castle.

The day began with the torch being held aloft by 83-year-old Roger Bannister, who in 1954 became the first runner to smash the 4-minute mile. Bannister walked with the torch on the track where he set that record.

A naked man with 'Free Tibet' written on his back also streaked past crowds just before former rower Steve Redgrave got the torch in Henley, 35 miles (55 kilometers) to the west of London. Redgrave, 50, won gold medals at five consecutive Olympics.

Police said the streaker, 27-year-old Daniel Leer, was charged with indecent exposure and released on bail.