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Bike for Butterflies 2021

I cycled from Land's End to John o'Groats - 1,200 miles in 30 days
- raising over £30,000 for Butterfly Conservation

My route was based on the National Cycle Network 

Land's End → Truro → Bodmin → Holsworthy → Barnstaple → Wiveliscombe →Glastonbury → Bristol → Stroud → Worcester → Stourport → Wem → Nantwich → Manchester → Whalley → Borwick → Kendal → Penrith → Gretna Green → Abington → Glasgow → Stirling → Callander → Killin → Pitlochry → Kingussie → Inverness (Marybur → Lairg → Skail → Thurso → John o'Groats

See map here

Tue 22nd June 2021 - Day 1

  • Land’s End to Truro: 86km, +975m, max. 122m

  • A Red Admiral was at Land's End to see me off!

  • Detour down to Lamorna Cove (and back up again!)

  • Visited Upton Towans - Cornwall Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve

  • Target species: Silver-studded Blue (lots seen), plus Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and 6 other species

  • Later visited Bissoe Valley - Cornwall Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve

Wed 23rd June 2021

  • Truro to Bodmin: 43km, +691m, max. 181m

  • Glorious ride, accompanied by skylarks and chiff-chaffs

  • Visited Goss Moor National Nature Reserve - last known site of the Marsh Fritillary in Cornwall

  • Painted Lady and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Thu 24th June 2021

  • Bodmin to  Holsworthy: 67km, +859m, max. 303m

  • Lovely ride along the Camel Trail to St Breward

  • Promoting BC’s recent All the Moors project at Irish Farm in St Breward, the Butterfly Capital of Cornwall. See YouTube video.

  • I was given a copy of the new atlas "Butterflies of Cornwall" to be published on Saturday. This will travel with me all the way to John o'Groats

  • Target species: Marsh Fritillary (seen), Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (not seen)

Fri 25th June 2021

  • Holsworthy to Stoke Rivers (10km beyond Barnstaple) via NCN Route 3 - Ruby Way and Tarka Trail: 76km, +792m, max. 239m

Sat 26th June 2021

  • Stoke Rivers to Waterrow (SW of Wiveliscombe), over Exmoor: 61km, +1,110m, max. 482m (highest point of the ride)

  • Visited Haddon Moor Butterfly Conservation Reserve and Haddon Hill

  • Target species: Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (seen at Haddon Moor), and Heath Fritillary (1x seen at Haddon Hill, along with Green Hairstreak)

Sun 27th June 2021

  • Waterrow to Glastonbury: 86km, +619m, max. 195m

  • Got lost in the rain; unexpected detour into the Quantocks

  • Too wet to visit Collard Hill NT reserve or Green Down, Somerset Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve

  • Target species: the re-introduced Large Blue (not seen)

Mon 28th June 2021

  • Glastonbury to Bristol: 61km, +779m, max. 269m

  • Visited Westbury Beacon Butterfly Conservation reserve in the rain

  • Bad weather prevented visits to Stoke Camp and Ubley Warren reserves

  • Target species: Dingy Skipper, Small Heath and others - not seen, just a few Meadow Browns 

  • Now seen 17 species so far


Tues 29th June 2021

  • Bristol to Stroud: 67km, +583m, max. 88m

  • Promoting urban butterflies in Bristol - follow transect walk around Narroways NR and Ashley Vale Allotments. Lovely Corky Fruited Water Dropwort, plus my first Marbled Whites and Ringlets

  • Did not visit Arnos Vale Cemetery, Clifton Downs, Leigh Woods NNR - not enough time

  • Euros: England 2-0 Germany ... a beer or two too many!


Wed 30th June 2021

  • Stroud to Worcester: 76km, +681m, max. 297m

  • Day at Rough Bank Butterfly Conservation reserve, arranged by the Gloucestershire Branch of BC 

  • Target species: limestone grassland specialists, eg. Small Blue (seen), Brown Argus and Green Hairstreak (not seen). Moth trap.

  • Now 20 species


Thu 1st July 2021- Day 10

  • Worcester to Stourport-on-Severn: 26km, +217m, max. 109m (an easy day)

  • Visited Monkwood Butterfly Conservation reserve

  • Target species: White Admiral, Wood White (both seen). Also saw Purple Hairstreak and Silver-washed Fritillary

  • Moth trap at Stourport

Fri 2nd July 2021

  • Stourport-on-Severn to Wem, 93km, +1,051m, max. 197m (a tough day)

  • Visited Wyre Forest National Nature Reserve, Dry Hill Lane

  • Target species: Silver-washed Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (both seen)

  • Red-belted and White-barred Clearwing moths came to pheromone lures

Sat 3rd July 2021

  • Wem to Nantwich: 37km, +187m, max. 117m

  • Visited Prees Heath Common Butterfly Conservation reserve

  • Target species: Silver-studded Blue - lots flying and being tended by ants. A high point

  • Euros: England 3-0 Ukraine - into the semi-final!

Sun 4th July 2021

  • Nantwich to Manchester: 74km, +357m, max. 68m

  • Visited Leftwich Meadows Nature Reserve

  • Target species: White-letter Hairstreak colonies near Northwich. Not seen, because it was monsoon rain

  • No butterflies at all seen today (the only time this happened, until the last day)

  • Satnav became waterlogged and failed. A low point.


Mon 5th July 2021

  • Manchester to Old Langho (Whalley): 68km, +617m, max. 258m

  • Started out in a downpour and got lost

  • Visited Milnshaw Park Wildflower Meadow (Accrington)

  • No time to visit Summerseat Lancashire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve - tbc


Tue 6th July 2021

  • Whalley to Borwick - "up and over" the Forest of Bowland: 69km, +1,155m, max. 429m

  • Visited Bell Sykes Farm Coronation Meadows (SSSI), near Slaidburn

  • Drizzle, so not much flying - but quite a few Chimney Sweeper moths

  • Over the Cross o' Greet in The Forest of Bowland (429m asl)

Wed 7th July

  • Borwick to Kendal: 38km, +499m, max. 137m

  • Wildlife event at Myers Allotment Butterfly Conservation reserve (10th Anniversary of BC management)

  • Target species: High Brown Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Northern Brown Argus - not seen at Myers

  • Visited Holme Stinted Pastures for High Brown Fritillary (seen, along with Dark Green Fritillary)

  • Euros: England 2-1 Denmark aet (dodgy penalty)


Thu 8th July 2021

  • Kendal to Penrith over Shap Fell via A6: 44km, +599m, max. 426m

  • Side trip to Whitbarrow National Nature Reserve (car): Township Plantation, White Scar (Northern Brown Argus, Grayling, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary), Latterbarrow CWT, Meathop Moss CWT (Large Heath)

  • Target species: High Brown Fritillary (not seen again), other fritillaries

  • Sainsbury's Car Park, Kendal: White-letter Hairstreak

  • Now 32 species


Fri 9th July 2021

  • Penrith to Gretna Green: 73km, +512m, max. 101m

  • Wildflower meadow in Carlisle brimming with Small Tortoiseshells

Sat 10th July 2021

  • Gretna Green to Abington: 84km, +749m, max. 319m

  • Lochwood Moss peat bog near Beattock - peat stripping concerns

  • Target species: Large Heath (not seen)

  • Peacock caterpillars seen; still no Peacock butterflies

  • No time to detour to Fruid Reservoir for Northern Brown Argus (too far)

Sun 11th July 2021 - Day 20

  • Abington to Glasgow: 80km, +611m, max. 302m

  • Visited Elder Park in Glasgow - a site worked on for the Helping Hands project

  • Euros Final: England 1-1 Italy, 2-4 on penalties

Mon 12th July 2021

  • Glasgow to Stirling: 45km, +257m, max. 110m

  • Visited Ruchill Park and Springburn Park to promote Butterfly Conservation's Helping Hands project in Glasgow

  • Forth and Clyde Canal towpath - fabulous

  • Side trip to Wester Moss  Butterfly Conservation Reserve and Fallin Bing

Tue 13th July 2021

  • Stirling to Callander: 48km, +265m, max. 142m

  • Visited Wester Moss Butterfly Conservation reserve and Fallin Bing (beautiful site, and excellent views)

  • Target species: Large Heath (not seen)

  • Callander Riverside Meadows


Wed 14th July 2021

  • Callander to Killin: 39km, +380m, max. 297m

  • Looked for small colony of Purple Hairstreaks in Killin (too windy and/or too early)

Thu 15th July

  • Killin to Pitlochry: 65km, +743m, max. 428m

  • Visited Ben Lawers (north of Loch Tay) for Mountain Ringlet - one seen. Walked up to 628m asl: great views over Loch Tay


Fri 16th July 2021

  • Pitlochry to Kingussie: 75km, +668m, max. 462m

  • Had to cancel the Moth trap at Kingussie

  • Visiting Insh Marshes RSPB reserve

  • Launch of the Big Butterfly Count - world's biggest citizen science project for butterflies

Sat 17th July

  • Kingussie to Inverness (Maryburgh): 112km (longest distance), + 947m, max. 407m

  • Terrifying cycling over the Kessock Bridge in Inverness

Sun 18th July 2021

  • Inverness (Maryburgh) to Lairg: 102km, +648m, max. 123m (headwinds)

  • Cromarty Ferry

  • Nigg Dunes, north of Cromarty - Small Copper

  • Gearrchoille Community Wood, Ardgay - too early for Scotch Argus (good habitat)

Mon 19th July 2021

  • Lairg to Skail, north of Syre in Strathnaver: 58km, +344m, max. 268m

  • Across the Flow Country

  • Roadside verges by Altnaharra

Tue 20th July 2021

  • Skail to Thurso: 66km, +850m, max. 160m

Wed 21st July - Day 30

  • Thurso to John o’Groats: 45km, +369m, max. 105m

  • Visited "Burn of Midsands" Coronation Meadow, Dunnet Beach

  • Visited Dunnet Head RSPB Reserve - most northerly point of the British mainland

  • John o'Groats

  • Hooray!

High points

  • 482m on Exmoor (Grid Ref: SS 74765 36245)

  • 462m at the Pass of Drumochter in the Scottish Highlands

  • 429m in the Forest of Bowland

  • 418m at Ben Lawers car park (walked up to 628m - the highest point of the trip)

  • 407m at Slochd Summit near Inverness

Distance: 12,200 miles / 1,964km

Total climb (and descent): over 19,000m




Cycling UK:

Butterfly Conservation:

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