DAY 1: Orcas on the Orkneys
AND THEY’RE OFF! After years of planning, the Pedal 4 Parks team have finally set off on their 14 day cycling challenge across the UK. Before we begin this journey the team would like to thank all of our sponsors, endorsers and followers for the consistent support over the past few months. Without their help we wouldn’t be able to make this life changing educational journey, so head over to our sponsors web page to find out more.
As much as you can plan for an expedition, there must be space for change. This is particularly important when relying on particular weather conditions… like the treacherous Pentland Firth waters! Known for being one of the most dangerous stretches of water, it has one of the most powerful tidal currents in the world. But that’s not enough to stop the eco-warriors from crossing the treacherous waters to fulfill their expedition! Once we arrived in mainland Orkney, it was our first mission to talk to Hamish, the lovely island local who would be supporting the team on their water bikes as we crossed back over to Scotland. Having supported various swimmers and adventurers across the water, Hamish had the crucial knowledge we needed to keep the team safe. Our plan was to cycle over the water on Friday the 18th, but we decided to wait until the next morning on Hamish’s recommendation to allow the wind speeds to drop. Luckily we had prepared for this very situation and decided to just complete our Orkney leg of the trip on the Friday, taking in more of the beautiful surroundings while avoiding any possible risk of danger from potential tidal currents.
Once it was decided that our Friday schedule would be shortened, the team took the noble decision to catch up on their sleep before a long two-weeks of early morning starts. The Orkney Caravan Park at Pickaquoy saw that we were well rested and very kindly allowed us to keep our kit at their site for the day while we kickstarted the expedition. The time delay came as a blessing in disguise for our film team who now had the time to sit and interview each of our cyclists on their thoughts before hitting the road. Chatting to the team they were all excited to be out on their bikes for the first time in 4 days! The expedition has been building for so long it was all now falling into place, so smiles all round as they looked back at the journey so far.
After lunch it was time for the team to head up to Birsay, the most northwesterly point of the Orkney Islands, where they would be setting off on their world first JOGLE adventure. At the starting line we were met by Dan Beaumont, a fellow cycling adventurer, who joined the team on the first half of the Orkney cycle. Enjoying walking, running, and cycling, Dan has been an adventurer ever since he finished his University degree in 2012, having spent several years travelling Asia, North America and Europe. Keen to learn new life lessons from everyone he meets on his journey, Dan founded Podstel, with his childhood friend, a hostel for travellers and a cafe for locals – a place where everyone can meet, learn about each other, and make new friends. If you are also interested in cycling with our team during the journey get in touch as we love meeting new adventurous people!
Along the way the cycling team got to take in all the beauty the Orkney Islands had to offer, including the more historical attractions like Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar. Although it may sound like we are quoting Lord of the Rings, these Neolithic sites make up half of the UNESCO World Heritage Site titled “The Heart of Neolithic Orkney” having been given the title in 1999. Skara Brae is an old Neolithic settlement made up of ten houses and a primitive sewage system, it seems that 2500BC settlers had a better system than we had when wild camping! The Ring of Brodgar is the northernmost example of a circle henge in Britain and is held with similar historical importance to the more popular Stonehenge. These locations are managed by Historic Environment Scotland who are proud to represent the ‘achievements of early peoples away from the traditional centres of civilisation’.
The rest of the route consisted of hopping from island to island until they reached Berwick harbour, where Hamish would meet them on his boat at 4.30 AM the next morning (what a trooper!). With such an early start, the whole team decided to ditch the comfort of the camping parks and wild camp, the first of many on this trip. Pitching up right next to the harbour, we were blessed by beautiful sea views and were even joined by the Orkney’s resident Orca family. Lukas, one of our cyclists, was so excited he ran down to the beach and jumped in! But, don’t worry, the ice cold water soon forced him back out and away from any danger…
After a tasty and nutritious dinner from our sponsor Firepot, it was an early night for the team. As the sun set, there was a shared happiness between the team as they looked over the water that they would soon become the world’s first people to cycle across.
The teams’ nerves seemed to vanish beneath the excitement of the adventure ahead and as the sun set there was an air of happiness amongst the team. The next leg of their trip would be crossing over 15km of the Pentland Firth on their water bikes, a world’s first achievement!
As the team have now set off on their journey, remember to follow their location on our socials and if you’re feeling extra active maybe you can join us for the ride!
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