A trip around Ireland to celebrate Ireland’s wildlife
Ireland’s wildlife gets bad press. Almost always, conservation is presented negatively; controversies about developments that damage wildlife, gloomy reports of species under threat of extinction, compensation for managing land for conservation, and so forth. It is a personal frustration of mine that rarely is Ireland’s special wildlife presented in a positive manner, or all that is good about wildlife celebrated. We have a unique and special natural heritage – this tour presents a personalised perspective on some of what is special about Ireland’s wildlife and an attempt to share this experience with a wider audience.
The aim of the tour is to cycle around the island of Ireland, a distance of >3,200km within a month, each day visiting some of Ireland’s special wildlife sites and highlighting what is special about them. At many of the sites I will meet with local experts or enthusiasts to give me their personal insights to what the sites mean to them. Writing about the sites and aspects of wildlife will build up to a gazetteer on Irish wildlife over the month long tour.
Cycling is the chosen mode of transport as it is a good way to experience the unfolding landscapes of Ireland. It is also a passion of mine; so bringing together the cycling and nature experiences seems like a logical thing to do.
The trip also has a personal dimension on two fronts. First, I will be accompanied by my daughter, Bella, who will drive support car and look after all the logistics for the trip. Bella will just have completed her Leaving Certificate and is due to obtain her full driving licence before the tour. Bella will also be writing about her own experience of the tour using her English, Irish and German language skills, and one of my challenges is to try to pass on my love of wildlife to her on this tour. Comparing Bella’s experience of the tour with that of her father, could make for some interesting reading.
And second, although cycling is a passion of mine, the challenge of cycling over 3,200 km in one month is far more than anything I have ever attempted before. Moving from cycling about 200 km each week to covering close to the distance that the professional cyclists will cycle during the Tour de France 2014 (albeit at a far, far slower pace) is a going to be a significant personal challenge.
So during the month of August, I plan to cycle over 3,000 km, use up about 70,000 calories, visit and write about 60 wildlife sites, meet with loads of interesting people and generally have a grand old time (hopefully!). I invite you to join me on this journey in celebration of Ireland’s wildlife.