In my recent blog post Green travel emits 60% less CO2 I calculated that by travelling by bike and train on my sabbatical I saved more than half the carbon I would have emitted if I used a car. I has used an online calculator and chose the small car option (and the emissions attributed to that small car per mile)’.
Last week we had to by a new tax disk and thankfully the DVLA sends a reminder. It states on the paper details of our car including Engine Capacity/CO2. For our car this is 151g/km. Now as our car is getting on for 10 years old I guess that it is now less efficient than when it was made but its the best information we have so I’ll use that.
If I travelled to all the reserves by car I would have driven 843 miles or 1357km. If I had used my car it would have pumped out a total of 205kg CO2 – more than the ‘small car’ option used by the estimator earlier. So this means that compared to travelling in my own car I emitted 67% or two thirds less CO2 through my green travel.
Bike2Go bikes at Dumfries station
When I got off the train in Dumfries back in August I was surprised to see Dumfries and Galloway’s (D&G) version of the Boris Bike. A few Bike2Go bikes were sitting at the station. I wondered then how often they were used – the answer is not much. An article in the Scotsman showed that the cost to the taxpayer of every journey was a whopping £101.37 as fewer than 20 bikes were rented each week
The Council says the scheme is to remain for the long-term so it’s good they aren’t scrapping it and selling off the bikes. In the article Deputy Council Leader Brian Collins (also chairman of regional transport agency Swestrans) said ‘We’re seeking a change of mindset’, but changing mind-sets is about more than a few bikes.
Planning a trip around D&G by bus is a serious headache as services are few and far between, especially away from the towns. The area is a popular holiday destination but going without a car is practically impossible. The roads are good though – a joy to ride. I really noticed this on my ride from Newton Stewart to Girvan, the potholes started as soon as I crossed into South Ayrshire.
When I stayed in Newton Stewart I was told that the Council has stopped kerbside recycling because of the recession. Shame that a reduced budget hits recycling first. So I can’t help thinking that D&G Council has cut back on recycling and prefers to keep car drivers happy. Getting people to think differently and travel in a greener way will take more than a few rental bikes. It means spending a greater proportion of budgets on the environment (including better bus services and recycling) and greater leadership on environmental issues. Perhaps, it’s Councillor Collins and his colleagues who need to change their mind-sets.
Yesterday I worked out that I saved 105kg CO2 through low-carbon travel on my sabbatical. My travel emitted 60% less than if I had gone by car – a small car. Brilliant. I also got fitter.
Of the 953 miles, nearly 200 were by bike. When I started, I found the cycling tough – I was a bit out of practice. In the first week my daily cycling was 17 miles on average but by the last week in Dumfries and Galloway I was averaging 36 miles a day. I was even doing extra miles by bike – on the last day I had planned to cycle from Newton Stewart up to Barrhill station but I had time and kept on going to Girvan.
Thankfully that fitness hasn’t gone away again now that the sabbatical is over. In fact, I am inspired to do more. I might not have loads of time to go on long bike rides but I am now a regular cycle commuter into Glasgow and I have made a dramatic discovery. Cycling is the fastest way to get into the office – only 30 mins. Faster than going by bus, train or car. The main question is why didn’t I discover this cycling commute earlier. Laziness? No, I just didn’t realise it was possible and so quick. So now getting to work I can be greener, fitter and faster…oh and a little bit richer.
I never did complete my sabbatical. The fourth week never happened for a variety of reasons – mainly I ran out of time and had other work commitments. My plan in the fourth week was to travel up to Inverness via RSPB reserves at Insh Marshes and Loch Garten to visit Nigg Bay reserve and Loch Ruthven. Maybe I will in the spring.
Despite this, the 3 weeks I did have were enjoyable and I saw some fantastic places. I also collected very useful climate impact stories - changes happening now. The remaining task for me is to write up these stories into case studies.
I have now worked out how many miles I travelled. Here is the final total.
Total miles travelled – 953
Total miles by train – 758
Total miles by bike – 193
Total miles walked – 2 (way back in June when I visited Barons Haugh)
Wow, nearly 1000 miles. But the point of going without the car was to 1) show it is possible and 2) show that you can reduce your carbon footprint when you visit nature. So how much CO2 did I save?
If I travelled to all 10 reserves by car in the same schedule I would have travelled 843 miles.
Car travel – 843 miles – 173.6kg CO2
This was calculated on the basis of using a small car. If it was a large car the total could have doubled to 349kg CO2. I used the calculator at
On my journeys the only CO2 came from train travel and the ferry (ferry not included as I would have used this with a car journey also).
Train travel - 758 miles – 68.5kg CO2
Therefore, my green travel saved 105.1kg CO2 or you could say that I emitted 60% less carbon than if I had travelled by car.
CO2 and other nasties
It’s great to have proper broadband speeds back at home. So thanks to new technology I can post some photos from Tiree. These are the eroding sand dunes I wrote about in Machair under threat
The eroding face of the sand dunes on Tiree
These buildings used to be much further inland
These dunes are eroding at a rate of half a metre per year.
Otter (not at Wood of Cree)
Credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Will I ever get to see an otter? It’s near the top of my list of wildlife I want to see and I keep hoping. Problem is being in the right place at the right time – I’m only ever in the right place at the wrong time. I saw otter footprints on Tiree and last week I was at the otter viewing platform at the RSPB’s Wood of Cree reserve in Galloway – as the signs say, it’s a good place to see them. The information sign also said that otter populations are on the rise thanks to new laws and efforts which are cleaning up our rivers and seas. Good news. That is the first step in helping wildlife adapt to the impacts of climate change – reduce the pressure on them from things not linked to the climate, e.g. pollution or habitat loss. If we do that, populations can increase, but they also need quality habitat in the right place.
Even though I didn’t see an otter, the Wood of Cree is a wonderful place to visit and part of the bigger Cree Valley Community Woodland Project. It’s easy to see why otters thrive there. I cycled down through the mix of river, wetland, woodland and farmland habitats on the Sustrans National Cycle Route 7 – a beautiful journey through what is classed as Western Atlantic Oak Woodland. The RSPB bought land to extend the Wood of Cree in 2005 and plant more trees but you might think that otters don’t live up trees so where is the link?
Conservation at the scale of whole river valleys or whole mountain ranges is also important for helping wildlife to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the future. This landscape-scale conservation isn’t about increasing the size of just one habitat, it’s about; making space for natural processes, improving increasing the size of all habitats over a wider area and joining up isolated habitats. This landscape-scale approach is an important tool in preparing wildlife for a changing climate. It can increase wildlife populations and make them robust and resilient, and it provides space for them to spread out as temperatures shift.
By working together, like we are in the Cree Valley, we can create bigger and better habitats which are fit for the future and able to prepare individual species, like otters, for life in a changing climate.
Wood of Cree in the spring
Photo credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
I’m waiting for a new all singing all dancing modem to arrive and get us back into 21st century braodband speeds. So this is only a short post.
Do you know the difference between a MAMIL and a mammal? One is a usually hairy warm blooded creature which produces milk for its young. The other is short for Middle Aged Man in Lycra. You’ve seen them, sometimes in packs, often on a Sunday morning, brightly coloured and in a hunched position straining at the pedals. It’s the thing to do to get over the mid-life crisis; buy a flashy Chris Boardman bike (other brands are available), a cycle computer, a skin-tight lycra outfit and off you go to get fit and out of the house. It’s better than buying a sports car and looking for younger women – I guess.
I’ve cycled more than 100 miles this week on my visits to RSPB’s Mersehead, Wood of Cree, and Crook of Baldoon reserves in Dumfries and Galloway. I enjoyed the cycling and being in the countryside, and feel a whole lot fitter than when I started this cycling sabbatical lark in June. I think I’m going to keep going with the cycling to keep the fitness and to get about. I should resolve to go for a weekly ride, but don’t expect me to become a fully fledged MAMIL just yet.
More blogs to come about Wood of Cree, Crook of Baldoon and climate impacts.