Sir David Attenborough: "Good luck with your marathon walk"

On 21st April 2016 I started walking from the west of Ireland to the coast of Lincolnshire to raise money and awareness for curlews, one of the most charismatic yet threatened birds in Britain. In Ireland, they have declined by over 90%, in Wales by 80% and an average of 50% throughout England and Scotland over the last 30 years. They are threatened by changes in land use, draining of wetlands, increased predation and some farming practices - especially on their breeding grounds.

I took Wordsworth's words with me:

Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain-winds be free
To blow against thee
— Above Tintern Abbey

I undertook this walk alone and unpaid, as I am passionate about saving these birds.  It was a life changing experience and I met extraordinary people and saw Britain and Ireland through different eyes.  Curlews are in need of so much help.  In one generation they have disappeared from many places and are particularly endangered in the west and south of the British isles.

To donate directly to curlew specific recovery projects, please click the links below:

The Cry Of the Curlew Appeal

Curlews are in crisis in Southern Ireland - there has been a 97% crash in numbers.  BirdWatch Ireland desperately needs funds to help secure the future of curlew on the Emerald Isle.  It really is urgent.  Please help them by donating to their wonderful work.

 

The British Trust for Ornithology Appeal for Curlews

 

The BTO are a superb research organisation focussed on birds and their environments.  Their collection of data through surveys and ringing has helped us understand the details of the lives and movements of the birds we live alongside.  This is their appeal for funds to focus directly on curlews, it will investigate the reasons for their decline so that effective projects can be put in place to help them.

 

The RSPB

The RSPB have a curlew recovery programme, a targeted, long-term plan aimed at finding out why the birds are declining in many different habitats and to work alongside farmers, moorland managers and land owners to secure their future. This Just Giving site will direct any donations to this fund.

 

Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

GWCT is a research based conservation organisation specialising in working with the farming, shooting and fishing communities.  Curlews undoubtedly benefit from land management and control of predators on some areas. This is their appeal specifically for curlews.

 

 

Here are the details of my walk

Lots of things changed as I went along - but this is a good rough guide.

Route map

Northern Ireland

Day 1 - Thursday 21st April

Enniskillen, Lough Erne – to Swanlinbar (11.7 miles). Picked up by Michael Bell and driven to Sligo for a talk.

 Giving talk at Sligo Park Hotel at 8.00 pm.  Organised by BirdWatch - Ireland Sligo branch and Sligo Tidy Towns

O/N Tommy Early in Lough Allen - Thanks Tommy.

 

Southern Ireland

Day 2 – Friday 22nd April

Visit Leitrim Flower Farm  to see breeding curlews, then walk to Lough Rynn castle (13 miles)

Lough Rynn B&B

Lough Rynn B&B

O/N Lough Rynn - Thank you Lough Rynn Bed and Breakfast

 

Day 3 – Saturday 23rd April

Lough Rynn to Longford (15 miles)

O/N Longford - Thanks Nathy Gilligan

 

Day 4 – Sunday 24th April

Rest Day O/N Longford - Thanks Nathy Gilligan

 

Day 5 – Monday 25th April

Longford – Cloonsheerin Bridge (Royal Blue Way) pick up the Royal Canal Way to Ballymahon (9 miles)

O/N Ballymahon - Thanks to Noel and Tilla Kiernan

 

Day 6 – Tuesday 26th April

Ballymahon – Ballynacarrigy (14 miles)

O/N Ballynacarrigy - Thanks to Sean McDonagh and friend.

 

Day 7 – Wednesday 27th April

Ballynacarrigy – Mullingar (13 miles)

Picked up by Birdwatch Ireland and taken to visit Shannon Callows.

O/N Banagher with BirdWatch Ireland - Thank you

 

Day 8 – Thursday 28th April

Shannon Callows

O/N Banagher with BWI - Thank you

 

Day 9 – Friday 29th April

Shannon Harbour– Tullamore on Grand Canal Way (21 miles).

O/N Tullamore - Jean McMahon - Thank you.

 

Day 10 – Saturday 30th April

Tullamore – Edenderry (16 miles)

O/N relatives

 

Day 11 – Sunday 1st May

Visit Bog of Allen

O/N relatives

 

Day 12 – Monday 2nd May

Edenderry to Tara - mixture of walk and lifts

O/N  Tara - thanks to Fiona Smith Darragh, sculptor, for the offer of a night.

 

Day 13 – Tuesday 3rd May

Recroding with RTE1 Mooney Goes Wild  then walk to Swords

O/N Relatives

 

Day 14 – Wednesday 4th May

Swords rest day

O/N Relatives

 

Wales

Day 15 – Thursday 5th May

Ferry from Dublin - Holyhead then train from Holyhead - Bodorgan  (Via one of the St Beuno’s churches?)

O/N Being organised by Philip Snow - Thank you.

 

Day 16 – Friday 6th May

Visit Malltraeth marshes.

O/N Mary Stevenson - Anglesey - Thanks Mary

 

Day 17 – Saturday 7th May

Malltreath – Bangor (16 miles)

Travel to Pwllheli

O/N Tim Higgins - thanks for the offer

 

Day 18 – Sunday 8th May

Talk at St Beuno’s church at Clynogg Fwar - Details to come

O/N Tim Higgins - thanks Tim.

 

Day 19 – Monday 9th May

Walk Pwllheli to Llanberis

O/N Steve Dodd and Rachel Taylor - Thank you.

 

Day 20 – Tuesday 10th May

Llanberis to Betws y Coed

Talk: Snowdonia Society

O/N with Nettie Collister - thank you

 

Day 21 – Wednesday 11th May

Visit Hiraethog area and the work the RSPB is doing to help curlews

Visit Migneint upland bog and the joint RSPB/National Trust/National Resources Wales project to restore it, which will benefit breeding waders like curlews.

O/N  Thanks Nettie

 

Day 22 – Thursday 12th May

Meet Julian Hughes, RSPB and journalist to drive to Bala Lake then walk to Lake Vwynry

O/N Lake Vyrnwyn - O/N with RSPB, thank you.

 

Day 23 – Friday 13th May

Lake Vyrnwyn – Llangollen via Berwyn Mountains. Advice and route guidance needed.

O/N Llangollen - thanks to Nick and Celia Jenkins

 

Day 24 – Saturday 14th May

Visit Ruabon upland recovery project

 Ruabon to Stiperstones

Afternoon visit to "Curlew Country" arts projects - Facebook page coming soon.

Evening talk - venue to be confirmed.

O/N Stiperstones - Alyson Small - thank you

 

England

 

Day 25 – Sunday 15th May

Visit Stiperstones/Long Mynd

O/N Stiperstones - Alyson Small - thanks very much.

 

Day 26 – Monday 16th May

Shrewsbury – Market Drayton (20 miles)

(Thanks to Martin Poulsom for walking with me for the next couple of days)

O/N Market Drayton - Thank you to Randle and Sarah Sparrow

 

Day 27 – Tuesday 17th May

Market Drayton – Stoke-on-Trent (16 miles)

O/N Stockton Brook - Thanks Maggie and Mark

 

Day 28 - Wednesday 18th May

Rest day/talks

O/N Leek - Thanks to Staffs Wildlife Trust

 

Day 29 – Thursday 19th May

Visit Roaches in the morning – to Longnor in the afternoon (12 miles)

O/N Longnor - Thanks to Dennis at  High Ash Farm Outdoor Centre

Day 30 – Friday 20th May

Longnor to Baslow (14 miles)

O/N Baslow Thanks to Jean Gollner for putting me up.

 

Day 31 – Saturday 21st May

Visit Eastern Moors Partnership project

O/N Baslow Thanks to Jean Gollner.

 

Day 31 – Sunday 22nd May

Delighted to be keynote speaker for Staffs Wildlife Trust AGM

O/N Bonsall - thanks to Mark Eddowes

 

Day 32 – Monday 23nd May

Bonsall to Bolsover (15 miles)

Meeting Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and their new Centre.

O/N Bolsover - Help with accommodation please?

 

Day 33 – Tuesday 24th May

Bolsover to Tuxford (19 miles)

O/N Tuxford - Help with accommodation please?

 

Day 34 – Wednesday 25th May

Tuxford to Lincoln (16 miles)

O/N Lincoln - Help with accommodation please?

 

Day 35 – Thursday 26th May

Visit Allerton Project

O/N Lincoln - Help with accommodation please?

 

Day 36 – Friday 27th May

Lincoln to Woodhall Spa (17miles)

O/N Woodhall Spa - Thanks to Melanie Fisher

 

Day 37 – Saturday 28th May

Visit Woodhall Spa with Lincolnshire WT

O/N Woodhall Spa - Thanks to Melanie Fisher

 

Day 38 – Sunday 29th May

Woodhall Spa -Boston (18 miles)

O/N Boston END

 

 

Here are some comments I received from people who have already donated to help with the costs of launching the walk - thank you everyone, it really does made a difference to what I can do. I hope to meet some of you along the way.

Wonderful that you’re doing this for such an iconic bird.

Good luck... A great act for a beautiful bird.

Thank you, Mary for undertaking this project on behalf of everyone who has been captivated by this wonderful bird.

Good luck with the project. This has made me far more aware of their plight. I hope to hear a curlew one day.

All the best Mary. Curlews are incredible birds and we must not loose them.

Good luck Mary. I absolutely love curlews and have a curlew call as the ring-tone on my mobile phone.

Can’t imagine a world without these iconic birds. Best wishes for your fantastic attempt to reverse the decline. Hope the weather is kind.

Hope your awareness campaign succeeds in improving nesting sites and curlew habitat..This makes better world for everyone. Good luck

Hello Mary, it’s massively important to save the curlew and your efforts are heroic! I cannot imagine our estuaries and moorland without the call of this beautiful bird, they are the essence of wild places.