Heading south in September

Here’s an exciting update from volunteer Gavin Young about our next challenging adventure…

I know we’re only at the halfway point of the Osprey season – and I’m really sorry to have to do this – but at some point we have to think about the great event that will take place at the end of our Osprey year. In September a small group of individuals will prepare themselves to leave Rutland on a long and challenging journey. In the days and weeks before they leave some of them will have to learn new skills by making short journeys into the beautiful countryside around Rutland to practice for the main event. Then, when the big day comes they will stretch their limbs, put on their helmets and lycra (optional) and get on their bikes to begin their four day journey from Rutland to Dover.

Of course, I’m not talking about the Ospreys’ epic Autumn migration to West Africa. It’s far too early for that and we still have plenty of action and entertainment to come with first flights to look forward to, Osprey cruises and other events. And then there’s Birdfair with all the birders, binoculars and beards that it brings to Rutland. Besides that, Ospreys can’t ride bicycles.

As I mentioned in April a team of Osprey staff and volunteers are planning a couple of events which will take place over the next two seasons to raise money for the West Africa Project. In October 2014 we will row from Dover to Calais in a Cornish pilot gig in an attempt to match a small part of an Osprey’s much larger migration. This was originally planned for this October but has been rescheduled to take advantage of an extremely generous sponsorship offer from Swarovski Optik to cover the costs of the event.

In keeping with the theme of migration we have decided that this year we will take on the ‘first leg’ of the Autumn migration by cycling from Rutland to Dover. Starting on the 19th September we will have four days to complete the journey at an average of about 45 miles per day. The route is as yet unconfirmed but could possibly take us through Huntingdon, Cambridge, Saffron Walden, Gravesend, Canterbury and finally to Dover.

It will be a challenging journey as most of us are not used to long distance cycling. For motivation I keep telling myself that once we’ve dragged ourselves up the hill from the start at the Lyndon centre it can only get easier. In reality we will suffer from blisters, fatigue and saddle-sores all along the way. But it will, of course, be well worth it as we are hoping to raise another useful chunk of money to go towards the Osprey Flyways Project.

We set-up the Osprey Flyways Project in 2011 and since then it has supplied educational resources to schools in the Gambia and forged links between these schools and others along the migration routes. As well as increasing knowledge of Ospreys and other birds across their migratory range, the project has enabled links between people from different cultures and backgrounds.

The team will be made up of Tim Mackrill, Michelle Househam, Lizzie Lemon, Lloyd Park, Chris Ditchburn and Gavin Young. You may see us pounding the roads of Rutland in an effort to get in shape for the challenge but if you don’t, ask us why not!

If you would like to sponsor our event please go to our fundraising page.