Sunday, 24 April 2011


I have taken a fresh look at Plymouth from a cyclist's perspective. It is my nearest city. The journey by bike into the city is a delight especially if you are a touring cyclist. Here are my suggestions for the best access:
a) From Cornwall, take the coast route to Cawsand and catch a water taxi into the historic Barbican
b) From East Devon, go through Yealmpton to the coast at Staddiscombe, take the water taxi from Mountbatten into the Barbican
c) From North Devon, take Sustrans Cycle Route 27 down the Plym Valley, passing the ancient oak tree at Meavy on route where Libby is taking a break

All these routes offer the most scenic journeys and make cycling into the heart of Plymouth a pleasure.

Plymouth's Fresh Air Miles Cycle Ride is 10 miles long on Sunday, 1 May. Meet at Cafe Roma beside the Civic Centre at 10.30. It is organised by Sustrans, the national cycle charity

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Without doubt, Spring is an exciting time of year. Wildlife at our home is exploding. We have a wildlife pond and babies of all types are appearing. There are tadpoles everywhere. A mother duck appeared with 13 baby ducklings last week. They scatter across the pond in joyjul play that knows no boundaries. Ten canada geese have appeared and are squabbling with one another as to whose territory it is. Meanwhile Mother Goose sits quietly on her one egg at our neighbour's pond next door while father goose tries to fight off the others saying our pond belongs to him

While this is happening, a moorhen looks out from her nest in the reeds waiting for her eggs to hatch. Two weeks ago at about the time when the first bluebells appeared, we watched a male wren courting a female. He was fluffing up his feathers and dancing to show his preferred partner the best place to nest in the overgrown bank.
The relationship between the moorhen and goose is fascinating. It is real David and Goliath story where an angry moorhen easily chases off any canada goose that invades its territory. Mostly they live in harmony.

I think that we are living in a time that is crucially important to us where we must work with the grain of nature. There are so many pressures in modern life and it is easy to think that nature is always there. Actually, nature needs to be savoured and nurtured. It is good for our soul and our children will thank us if we look after it.
I love to be out in the wild and a bicycle is my way to keep me fit and my mind uncluttered. Here is a picture of the Erme estuary in Devon at low tide waiting for me to peddle across it. It is as picturesque as anywhere in the whole World. I am hoping that cycling charity, Sustrans, will put it on their cycling map for their new route from Plymouth to Salcombe

For those who are dubious about cycling for wildlife, here are two cyclists whose exploits I intensely admire.

John Grimshaw was one the founders of Sustrans back in the 1970s. With single minded dedication, he has opened up cycling in Britain from no cycle routes to where we now have over 12,000 miles of superb journeys dedicated to cycling touring. These routes range from the remote hills of Sutherland to the mountains of Snowdonia, the moors of Cornwall and the glades of East Anglia. In my rides on these trails, I have seen peregrin falcons, ospreys, huge numbers of wading birds, a white deer, many other deer and much, much more.

Alastair Humphreys is a man who cycled the World, a mammoth journey and he wrote about his experiences. His two books tell not just his tale but that of the World we live. There are so many rich experiences that he has brought to life but he has also created an awareness in me of the dangers if we do not care for and cherish our wild places and wildlife.

I will be cycling two new adventures in May and June. My first journey will be the very first C2C from Sunderland to Whitehaven, a distance of 140 miles across the Pennines and through the Lake District. My second is from Santander in Spain to Roscoff in Brittany, 750 miles alongside the Atlantic coast.

Next year, I have an embryo of an idea for a journey. I want to cycle to the Arctic Circle. I have not fully decided this yet. The embryo starts at Malmo in Sweden or possibly Copenhagen. The journey that really appeals is to cycle north through Sweden to the Norwegian frontier. I want to experience how midsummer is celebrated in the far north of Sweden as part of this journey