Simon's #Bike for Butterflies 2024

Inspired by my #BikeForButterflies rides in 2023 and 2021, I'm pedalling again this year to raise money for Butterfly Conservation.

I'm doing this challenge because the natural world is in trouble and we need urgent action:

Thoughts from the finish

After 20 days - only three above 20C - I've completed the 700 miles of my 3rd #BikeForButterflies. The weather has been appalling, and the route taxed me to my limits, but it's been a great experience and I'm proud to have made it to the end in one piece. We've raised a good sum for Butterfly Conservation - and there’s still time to donate https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/bikeforbutterflies2024

Although I finished on a high, with a Purple Emperor at Fermyn Woods, I have been shocked at how few butterflies there have been. 

People will be familiar with the “splat test”:  how many insects there are on a car's number plate after a journey. Cyclists have their own splat test, the number of flies they swallow (or spit out) on a ride. Well, I swallowed or spat out zero insects this time. A record!

This is seriously alarming: no insects = no ecosystem. 

It's easy to blame the weather, and this year has been awful. But it's not just weather, the changes are driven by climate change. It's not one “odd” season, it's a marked shift in our weather patterns, and in the frequency of extreme or unusual conditions. Nature can cope with gradual changes - it always has - but it can't cope with the changes we are seeing now. We need urgent and effective action to address climate change!

Added to that, there is the impact of industrial agriculture. Over 70% of the land in Britain is farmed, either arable or grazing, and the use of insecticides, herbicides and fertilisers is huge. Don't blame the farmers, they are doing what we asked, but the outcome is that most farmed land is poor habitat - a wildlife desert. We need to change the way that land is farmed, by making it profitable for farmers to be nature-friendly. 

As it is, wildlife is being squeezed in tiny pockets of good habitat - “reserves” - surrounded by hostile land. This is NOT OK, and we to change our mindset to #RestoreNatureNow.

The commonest butterfly I saw was the Ringlet, which is adapted to the cool and damp weather that I endured. I also saw a lot of Red Admirals, a species that has spread north as the climate has warmed. It was a regular migrant to southern England, now it is resident and breeding through the year. Signs that climate change is with us, and that nature is having to respond.

Overall I saw 26 species (some in very low numbers), but I should have seen at least nine more. It's a sobering thought that our wildlife is not just in trouble, bit continues to decline. We need to Restore Nature Now https://www.restorenaturenow.com/ - after all, we want more people to see more butterflies more often.

Photos https://photos.app.goo.gl/LCDf7LZqkYcvp1sr7 

More info here.

Overview

Starting at the Great Orme (Llandudno, north Wales), heading east to Whitchurch, then north to Manchester, Preston, Fleetwood & Morecambe Bay. Then the Way of the Roses coast-to-coast route to Bridlington and wending my way south through Hull and Lincoln, eventually to Kettering. See the map below.

It's about 700 miles (1,100km) with some easy stretches and some tough bits. I'll be cycling for 3 weeks, visiting wildlife sites on most days.

Fundraising - please help!

My JustGiving site is here https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/bikeforbutterflies2024.

Why?

The natural world is in trouble and we need urgent action, so I'm setting off just after the Restore Nature Now march in London on 22nd June. I want to see politicians show strong nature and climate leadership:

Targets

Target species are the Silver-studded Blue, Large Heath, Grayling, and Purple Emperor, though I'll be hoping to see lots more. Below you can see the sites I'm planning to visit, with target species for each one.

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The ride in more detail

Proud sponsors - BRIXTON Brewery

Brixton Brewery shares my postcode - SW9 - and make a great range of beers. They kindly supplied a cycling jersey and cap. See https://brixtonbrewery.com/

Bike for Butterflies 2024 - SITES

The Way of the Roses

This is a 173 mile (278 km) ride from Morecambe on the west coast to Bridlington on the east coast of Yorkshire. I aim to cycle it in 4 days.

It skirts around the north of the beautiful Forest of Bowland and uses peaceful lanes along the side of the Lune Valley. It descends through the villages of Gressingham, Hornby and Wray, gaining height to enter Yorkshire - with views of the 723m Ingleborough (one of the famous Three Peaks). The road undulates to Clapham and up to the small market town of Settle.

The route descends into Airton and continues through the Dales villages of Winterburn and Hetton to Cracoe. There is a climb to Wharfedale to the village of Burnsall. 

Then it's through Appletreewick and Pateley Bridge and past the spectacular Fountains Abbey to Ripon. 

It's onwards to York, and through the Vale of York and the Yorkshire Wolds to Bridlington.

The route has 2,774m of ascent and a high point of just over 400m. 

There are several significant hills - the climb out of Settle is the steepest of the whole route. 

See http://wayoftheroses.info/

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