Updated: Jun 4, 2019
By Toria Cox
Peak District National Park Engagement Manager, Lorna Fisher, is currently preparing to cycle 1,658 miles through all 15 of the UK’s national parks in just 2 weeks. Her challenge begins in Cairngorms National Park on 13th April, passing through the Peak District 19th April and finishing in the Norfolk Broads National Park on 27th April.
This grueling challenge coincides with National Parks Fortnight (6th – 21st April) which celebrates the 70th anniversary of the 1946 Act of Parliament, which established the Peak District as the first of many protected National Parks in the UK. During her cycling challenge, Lorna aims to raise funds for the Peak District National Park Foundation, as part of their #70kfor70 campaign.
We caught up with Lorna to see how she’s feeling on the lead up to her cycling challenge…
Q: Hi Lorna, thanks for speaking to us today! In just over a month’s time, you are taking on the Pedalling the Parks challenge. Where did the idea to cycle through all 15 of the UK’s national parks come from, and has this been done before?
A: I believe it hasn’t been done before, as far as google searches go anyway. It is about twice the distance of Lands’ end to John O Groats, which is a popular route.
I’ve been inspired by other environmental adventure activists such as Sarah Outen and Al Humphreys, who use their passion to explore with learning and spreading messages about important environment concerns.
At the 2018 Europarc Conference hosted by Cairngorms National Park we launched the Youth Manifesto and many young people were so passionate about our National Parks and it fired me up to thinking what could I do to spread awareness, and help more people learn about, love and care for our NPs.
I love riding bikes and haven’t visited all the parks so this felt like the perfect fit.
Q: By taking on the Pedalling the Peaks Challenge, you also hope to raise money for the Peak District National Park Foundation, which is fantastic. How will this money benefit the UK’s busiest national park?
A: This year is the 70th anniversary of the Act of Parliament that led to the Peak District becoming the UK’s first National Park. We want to keep the spirit of access and enjoyment of our National Parks going into the future. So we are aiming to raise £70,000 to mark this milestone by launching the #70kfor70 campaign. £70,000 will:
Restore damaged moorland and protect habitats
Look after important cultural heritage
Help people access the National Park
Every penny goes to delivering much-needed projects within your National Park.
Q: Apart from raising money for the Peak District National Park Foundation to support conservation and access projects, what other impacts do you hope you will have by taking on the Pedalling the Peaks challenge?
A: I hope simply to raise awareness of our national parks and the benefits they bring. To me being on a bike is all about escape, peace, and the fun of exploring. I love the conversations you have with people whilst riding through places, people are curious and often can’t quite believe you have ridden so far, especially as a women, so it’s a good conversation starter to talk about my purpose. This enables me to encourage others to visit their National Parks, or simply get active in a local green space, its all so good for your mental and physical well-being.
I hope through casual conversation on the ride, talks to schools and groups post ride, I will get more people connected with our National Parks.
I will be linking this ride to the Year of Green Action, which encourages connecting people to nature, and taking positive action to improve our environment #IWill. I see this as a platform to raise awareness of other campaigns close to my heart such as BMC Hills to Ocean, which aims to remove mountains of waste from the places we love #HILLS2OCEANS.
Q: You got into cycling just 7 years ago. What was your motivation to start cycling?
A: My partner is a keen cyclist and when he joined our local club Glossop Kinder Velo I was jealous when he was out all day exploring and coming back with photos of the amazing landscape we have on our doorstep in the Peak District. So his dad gave me an old bike and I started training to keep up. Soon I was joining him on rides, and continue to love riding together. It’s been a great way to make new friends and feel a sense of belonging.
I had a go at racing my bike to get to know more women who are motivated to challenge themselves, and more recently enjoyed long distance audaxes. I now ride regularly with Rapha from the Manchester Clubhouse, and have recently become a ride leader, so will enjoy bringing more cyclists out into the Peak District.
I have always loved being outdoors, and enjoyed many different activities such as walking, and wild swimming. But cycling just gets you a bit further, I enjoy the pace and perspective you have from a bike.
Q: How can people support and follow your progress during the Pedalling the Peaks challenge?
If you would like to contribute towards Lorna’s fundraising target, please make a donation. More information on the Pedalling the Peaks challenge can also be found on the Peak District National Authority website.