Green travel to green places

In search of climate and wildlife stories…by bike

Greener, fitter, faster. — October 31, 2012

Greener, fitter, faster.


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.

The distance stats — July 19, 2012

The distance stats

For the stats lovers out there here are the statistics on how far I have travelled during my sabbatical, so far. All distances in miles and all low-carbon.

  • Barons Haugh – Train 34, Walk 2 (to the reserve)
  • Skinflats and Inner Forth – Train 42, Cycle 11
  • Loch Leven – Train 153, Cycle 19
  • Lochwinnoch – Train 17, Cycle 20

Total so far (drum roll please)

Train – 246 miles        Cycling – 50 miles 

A view from one of Barons Haugh’s hides

Thanks to my little brother I now have a wee bike computer to work out my cycling miles. I worked out the distances on and If there is an easier way to calculate train journey distances please let me know.

Now to plan the next Green travel to green places journeys.

More paths to nature please — June 29, 2012

More paths to nature please

Here’s the quote of the week from my 6-year-old son when we had to get off and walk up a short steep section of the cycle path in Pollok Park.

‘Ohhh, why does the path have to go up here? ….[in reply to himself] I suppose because they made the path after they made the planet’.

You can’t fault the logic, even though he missed a few steps in between! It made me think that we do have the planet and we have wildlife habitats, what we need to do is build the cycle paths to get there – and the bus links. We need more low-carbon ways to get to nature wherever it is – not everyone has use of a car and what if we want to reduce our carbon footprint and choose to leave the car at home. I hope I have shown you, this week, a few possibilities for doing this within the Central Belt of Scotland. But what about further afield? In future weeks (probably in August) I’ll be trying to get to RSPB nature reserves in other parts of Scotland without a car. I’m making plans for this but some places are difficult to go low-carbon. Dumfries and Galloway, for example, has pretty limited bus services.On a cold grey day in January this year, 350 people, many with bikes, descended on the Scottish Government in Edinburgh to call for more money in the budget for cycling and active travel Stop Climate Chaos Scotland organised this because the Government’s draft Budget showed a one-third cut in funding for active travel but an alarming rise in spending on roads. The action that day did win an extra £13million over 3 years for sustainable and active travel….but ironically an additional £72million for road building in the final Budget!

Cycling policy – stuck in the mud?  – Eleanor Bentall (

We need a much greater share of the transport budget going to pay for pedestrian and cycle paths and to support public transport. And we need routes to go to wonderful places in the countryside so that we can easily get out and enjoy nature. You never know, a small investment might even cut congestion, cut our CO2 emissions, improve the nation’s health and make us feel good.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get out to a reserve today. I went to a meeting about the RSPB’s Inner Forth Futurescape project (where I visited on Tuesday). I hope to get to the Inner Clyde reserve at a later date.

Slow travel vs low-carbon travel — June 20, 2012

Slow travel vs low-carbon travel

 I googled slow travel. Most people who slow travel try getting from A to B with a lower carbon footprint to normal. Some, like slow food lovers, focus on taking time to just enjoy the experience, but this could be pootling along in a huge campervan rather than on a bike. I aim to cut my carbon footprint so my journeys to RSPB reserves on my sabbatical will only be by train, bus, boat or bike….but primarily bike. At the moment I’m a short-commute cyclist, rather than doing it to keep fit, so I’m aiming to take the bike on the train where possible and ride from there. I don’t have all the kit, like some of my friends who are also hitting the big 40, I’m more like the rider on the right than the left (see pic) – but I’ll give it a go.

I’m a bit more elderly lady than Mark Cavendish

There is also a perception that you can’t get to RSPB reserves unless you have a car. It’s true that many are in the middle of nowhere but surprisingly there are plenty you can get to even if you leave the car at home, or don’t have one. I can tell you that working out how to get to Loch of Kinnordy by public transport is a bit of a trial but I hope I can inspire you to enjoy nature and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.