Simon Stuart and his wife Ann are nearing the end of their epic #Cycle4Species. If you’re UK-based and have been wondering what’s happened to the summer, spare a thought for these two as they’ve been braving the wind and the rain from John O’Groats all the way down to Land’s End.
Scroll down to see the whole story, in pictures and maps.
After a few glorious days of weather at the beginning, they were faced with 9 days of unrelenting strong winds. As they got further south, into Devon and Cornwall, it was just the rain and the hills they had to contend with! With just a day to go to complete their epic ride, I briefly caught up with Simon to find out how they are getting on. He was (understandably) exhausted, but here's what he told me:
Of course, there have been plenty of highlights and they’ve cycled through some spectacular landscapes, but he and Ann have been struck by the vast areas of denuded landscapes they have cycled through, where agriculture has taken over and pushed out wildlife, and by the scale of the industrial wastelands which have been the backdrop to parts of their journey. They’ve seen a huge contrast in the lack of variety and quantity of wildlife in these places compared to unfarmed areas such as the Somerset levels.
They've also realised just how many species of bird they can see without actually getting off their bikes! 83 species and counting, including a memorable encounter with two Short-eared owls in the Forest of Bowland. There have been Meadow pipits everywhere. This small, unassuming bird was everpresent - over half the birdlife they saw was this one species, though numbers started to fall as they got further south and Magpies and Woodpigeons became more common. For the first few days, they were also accompanied by hundreds of migrating swifts, but again numbers fell as they got further south and the swifts left for sunnier climes.
They experienced some wild and beautiful scenery, especially early on in the far north of Scotland - Day 2 (see below) was a particular highlight. Now, nearing the end of their journey, they find themselves cycling through some beautiful and hilly landscapes, but as it’s prime tourist season, so the number of cars on the road make cycling less enjoyable. Exhausted, but happy to have come so far, the experience has been unforgettable, but probably not one they would do again in a hurry. And it’s all for a great cause, saving species and protecting habitats.
Simon and Ann have recently reached the halfway point of their fundraising target. Seeing their target getting closer has spurred them on when the legs have been suffering, and they’re incredibly grateful to everyone that has contributed.
There’s still time to give them that last little push towards the finish line!