Category Archives: Cycling

On the tin, but no MTBs or Roadies :)

It is uninteresting to contemplate mangled banks and verges … (with apologies to Darwin)

It is uninteresting to contemplate mangled banks and verges, clothed with few plants of fewer kinds, with no birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitted away, and with no worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that all those elaborately constructed forms, which were there before, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us, are but a shadow of what is there now after the mowers moved in.

Many will realise that is a parody of the fantastic poetic conclusion to Darwin’s  The Origin of species.

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, ……..



That might baffle you why this photo is here and what it is.

It is the flower of one of 25 Southern Marsh Orchids mown down on a tiny grass verge in Lancashire. This flowered was beheaded or decapitated by someone unaware what it was, and perhaps it is reminiscent of the head of one of Henry VIII’s many victins on the executioner’s block.

Here is a fine specimen of a Southern Marsh Orchid a few hundred yards away and then the verge as it was early in June before the phantom mower came. The first is from an “amenity centre” which fortunately is not mown indiscriminately and one of a hundred along with a host of other flowers. The second is of the narrow verge of short grass where 25  orchids were flowering until 11th June 2020.


That changed when it was mowed on the morning of 11th June. Wyre Council claim it was nothing to with them

The grass was so short. The first shows one surviving ording and the second a mangled one.


Another example near Scorton of Red Campions and cow parsley just trashed.




Mowing machines have been the scourge of lockdown this spring. I don’t mean those which you use (or shouldn’t have used) to mow your lawn, but the excess misuse of mowing machines on roadside verges this year. It’s not only Lancashire but every part of the country as mowers have gone in and removed the flora.

Consider the contrast both in beauty and wildlife of these two images taken from twitter


Every day over the last few months I have noticed mangled banks and verges, where mowers have gone in to do their damage. I ought to explain that most days I go out for a 30 odd mile cycleride in the lanes of Lancashire. Rather than improve my speed, I prefer to see what is there and especially enjoy the wildlife, whether a hare, rabbits, stoats, various birds including the Purple Heron. I had a close shave when a buzzard nearly flew into me near Inskip. I also look at the flora and continually improve my skills of identification.

But as I saw the trashed flowers the words of the last paragraph of The Origin came to mind and then I decided to parady it in honour of the mowers.

It is uninteresting to contemplate mangled banks and verges, clothed with few plants of fewer kinds, with no birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitted away, and with no worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that all those elaborately constructed forms,  so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, which were there before,have all been produced by laws acting around us, are but a shadow of what was there before the mowers moved in. These new laws of environmental vandals, taken in the largest sense, being no Growth without Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost lost by lack of reproduction; invariability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of  the fossil-fueled mowing machines, and from extermination; a Ratio of Increase so low as to lead to an inevitable Death, and as a consequence to Unnatural Selection, entailing loss of Divergence of Character and the Extinction of all improved forms. Thus, from the war against nature, from moving, pesticide and herbicides, the most unexalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the loss of all fauna and flora, directly follows. There is no grandeur in this view of life, despite life having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved, are now being hurried to extinction by the wanton disregard of the Creator’s allegedly highest creation, the damned miscreator.

I have come across not only those decapitated orchids, but rare stands of Ragged Robin and Red and White Campions with their hybrids cut right down. I have only seen one example of those two floral gems. That is apart from  common wildflowers being mown down just before flowering. I blogged some details of the mowing here;

The total area of road verges in Britain is immense as mile upon mile of 2 metre wide strips adds up to an awful lot, giving space for an immense diversity of flora and thus of insect, bird and mammal life. We cannot afford to lose it. It is comparble to domestic gardens which are increasingly hard-surfaced or put down to plastic grass.

Sadly , this mowing has taken place throughout the countries of the UK. Many have complained to their local councils.

I have complained to local councillors from Lancashire County Council and Wyre borough but have had no useful response.

In my twitter comments I also linked to the twitter accounts of Lancashire County Council and Wyre Borough Council, which elictied responses, which were unhelpful. LCC were quick to say verges were Wyre’s responsibility. But Wyre said that the verge with the orchids was not their remit. Even senior employees of either council gave me no answer. As a result I cannot say who was responsible and only deal with the results.

The results are very clear;

  • Mowers have no regard for flowers, whether common, or less so, in flower or in bud, and simply mow them down.
  • In many lanes a mown strip 2 to 3ft wide would be sufficient, but often anything up to 12 ft /4 metres from the road is mown, without regard to the flora.
  • often strips are mown right up to base of a hedge, if present, thus removing plants about to flower or in flower eg. ramsons, campions, ragged robin , various parsleys, Meadowsweet, vetchs etc.
  • A frequent appeal is for safety and visibility , but that would never require mowing back several metres from the road.

My observations also indicate that councils are not the only ones mowing, as it is often done by local farmers or residents, and, possibly other bodies.

I would suggest that every local council and councillors  need to be challenged on this by as many people as possible, until a better policy is implemented.

Despite by very much an amateur naturalist, it is clear to me that councils need good sound botanical advice to inform their mowing regime AND then enforce it.

I could go on, but will finish with quoting that final paragraph of Darwin’s Origin,  which is an excellent scientific picture of our natural world.

Have lived in Shrewsbury, Darwin must have ridden past many entangled banks as he travelled the area on his horse. Some of the best banks were on his various routes to Woodhouse, where his visited his first girl-friend Fanny Mostyn Owen, before he went to Cambridge.  The entangled banks near Downe House are equally gorgeous.

So I’ll give Darwin the last word, with a few of my photos.

The conclusion of The Origin of Species (1st ed)



It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank,


clothed with many plants of many kinds,



with birds singing on the bushes,


with various insects flitting about,

P1010170P1010570 (1)


and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.


A most useful guide on how verges should be mown

Where have all the flowers gone? Stripped from verges everyone.

One of the joys of cycling the lanes of Lancashire is the profusion of flowers and plants in the hedgerows and verges. My cycling is more to explore than to clock up the miles. I explore using ordnance survey maps so I can find new lanes and places of interest. I cycle all year round, so see the countryside in all seasons. I only avoid ice and high winds!!

Each year I cycle over 4000 miles with rides from 20 to 50 and occasionally more miles. Thus I tend to go down the same lanes many times a year. Speed is not my aim and I am always looking at the flora and fauna and stop if there is anything of interest. I always see and note the changing seasons. Although my botanical skills are not great, I note where particular flowers blossom and when. Often I chooose a route to see what flower I expect to see has flowered.

A few weeks ago I tootled past this fantastic array of forget-me-nots. It was downhill but I kept my brakes on so I could take it all in. 8 mph was better than 18mph!


There are many other examples and best savoured at a slow pace. Granted I couldn’t do more than 5-6 mph going up Beacon Fell.

Look at the variety Alkanet, Welsh Poppy, Ramsons, Red Campion, Queen Annes Lace, and finally some hybridizing Red and white campions.



It is difficult not to think of Darwin’s beautiful conclusion to The Origin of Species seeing these displays.

“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”

It is all absolutely wonderful until you cycle after someone (who knows who?) has been along the lane with a mowing machine and shredded up to six foot or more of the often flower-rich verges. As I cycled along this lane I did not think of Darwin but wondered who could have such a lack of concern or knowledge of the countryside. Today, a fortnight after cycling this, I was there again and it is still a mess.



This is not so much mowing as mangling. Hardly good management.


Darwin needs bringing up to date;

It is awful to contemplate a mangled bank, clothed with so few  plants, which have been mangled by a mower, with no birds singing on the bushes, with various insects unable to find their food, and no hedge garlic for the orange tip butterfly to lay its eggs. And to hell with the orchids.

This is the same lane as above. Campions nestle against the hedge, but you can see the mangled ones in front .


I cannot understand why such a wide strip needs mowing. In fact here, they failed to mow adjacent to the road but just carved at least a three foot strip mangling the flora.


Then cycling near Inskip I found six foot of verges had been mowed to destruction as you can see in the three photos below..

Why do this? There is no reason for visibility. as for tidiness only a stroip about 2ft wide is needed.

Further it is very rough mowing done with no concern for precision or tidiness and even less for the flora, however common it may be. Of course, there are those who will see those plants as “weeds”, thus needing removal as they have no purpose





A little further on was a pole in the middle of the verge preventing  the mower from reaching much of the verge. This mean some flowers were left and here some Queen Annes Lace and some vetch. This is what the stretch of road in the previous photos would have looked like.P1030444

A mile or so along the lane the verges were mown down to the soil ripping up ramsons and Campions.



Isn’t this so beautiful? I can’t imagine Darwin finding it interesting to contemplate.


Elsewhere hedge garlic, the home to orange tip caterpillars  is often shreddedand cut back, thus assisting in the decline of butterflies.

I often cycle along the lane west of Cartford Bridge, which overlooks some of the lower reaches of the River Wyre. Recently as I went down this stretch I looked for the interesting hybrids between Red and White Campions I had stopped and photographed a week before.

They were no more – sacrificed to the great god the mower. I was furious.



Here are the campions I’d photographed on my previous ride.

Now I could wax lyrical on them! The most obvious sign are pink flowers in contrast to the pure white one and very deep pink or red ones. I won’t go into the shape of the leaves and other aspects or how you can tell between boy and girl plants! I am not very good on the sex life of Campions.

I was pleased to find this site as occurences of hybrid campions are not that common in this part of Lancashire, and this seems to be an outlier. (But a competent botanist may correct me.)




A few days after this cycling near Stalmine I found this heavy handed mowing removing a good foot of growth.

Some would argue that this was done for drainage reasons. If so, it should have been done at least a month earlier or last autumn.  By now plants like meadowsweet or purple loosestrife should be a foot high. In fact, the ditch by the end of Union Lane was cut back several months ago and now has meadwosweet and purple loosestrife thriving.


Carrying on up the lane I came to turn-off to Stalmine and found the phantom mower had been hard at it.

All that was needed was a yard strip adjacent to the road, rather than removing everything right back to the hedge.

That is all that is needed for visibility for dangerous road-users, unless they were Borrowers.


Last year cycling above Claughton I so pleased to find a hundred yard log stand of ragged Robin in flower. Here it is today> If you look carefully you will see ONE Ragged Robin flower.

As you see a FOUR foot edge was mowed, which can have no justification for visiblity or tidiness.

This is only one of two locations in Lancashire that I’ve found roadside Ragged Robins. The other was a lone flower in a bank at 240  metres three miles away.



These are just some of the photos I started to take in April as I realised what was happening. These go up to 20th May.

Obviously as I cycle at a sedate rate of 10- 15 mph I have time to notice things, you wouldn’t if you were trying to better your time on Strava or driving, but this is why I cycle the way I do.

I like to see what is there; flora, fauna, buildings, boundary stones and anything of interest. As well as flora I’ve seen Great White Egrets, Purple Herons, Owls, Hares , Rabbits, Stoats, various butterflies etc. In February  cycling towards Eagland Hill I saw a Kestrel hovering , two buzzards being mugged by crows and then the temporary resident the Purple Heron. I have been hit by a small bird and last year a buzzard missed me by inches!!

Come a month or two I shall be looking out for knapweed, purple loosestrife and other flowers.

My worry is that this kind of mowing will remove not only the wild flowers but also insects and birds.

That is why it needs to stop and be properly managed.

About myself, I am more of a person interested in wildlife, both flora and fauna, rather than having any special skills, so this blog is a protest against the wholesale cutting down of verges while in flower.  I accept they need cuttting but that should be done taking flowering into consideration. Here is Plantlife on the mowing of verges. Very wise;

All Councils – Parish, county and district/borough need a coherent strategy on the management of verges. They also need to take advice from a competent ecologist. It is not something to be left to someone with a mowing machine, who may think that weeds need to be cut to the ground.

I have lodged a complaint with my local councillors and have had a positive response.

In contrast to this Wales is different as this BBC article shows

With a good example

View image on Twitter

And a bad one

View image on TwitterImage


Finally, in contrast to my amateurish complaints, here is some informed comment.

  1. A recent conference on the management of verges

2. An old blog from a botanist dealing with these problems, giving links to how various councils in England are managing verges.

3. The policy of Dorset County Council.

Each of these will give a professional amplification of my concerns.

I will leave you with this image. It is better for bees, insects, birds and humans

Verge flowers





Robert Falcon Scott’s final letters

Here is a good blog on Robert Falcon Scott’s farewell letters to his wife while dying in Antarctica in 1912.



My parents read this part to me at the age of about 13

“I have written letters on odd pages of this book — will you manage to get them sent? You see I am anxious for you and the boy’s future — make the boy interested in natural history if you can, it is better than games — they encourage it at some schools — I know you will keep him out in the open air — try and make him believe in a God, it is comforting.”

they were laughing about it as they read it to me as I loathed games – rugby, football Cricket etc and always skived off them.

However I loved the outdoors and at about this time I took up serious cycling and was wanting to climb mountains as we had pictures of Khanchenjunga in our dining room. We also had Peter Scott prints in the house.

Thus RF Scott’s last words meant much to me and helped as my school didn’t like non-games players.

I have never been very good at natural history but love it as an ancillary to exploring the countryside, (wilder the better) on foot and bike.

My parents never gave me encouragement to believe in a God. That came later and in part triggered off by being filled with awe for the natural world – with an event in the mountains looking over to Snowdonia.




And so begins Jerry Coyne’s blog

Why Evolution Is True

Many of you know of Captain Robert Falcon Scott‘s final entry in his diary, written as he lay freezing to death in his tent on his return from the South Pole. He had made it to the Pole with five companions, only to find that Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian team had beaten him to the prize by about a month.

Here’s the famous picture of Scott’s team at the Pole, presumably taken with a self timer. The caption: “Party at the South Pole, 18 January 1912. L to R: (standing) WilsonScottOates; (seated) BowersEdgar Evans“.  They certainly don’t look happy.

On the return, one of Scott’s men, Edgar Evans, died of a concussion. Another, Titus Oates, frostbitten and near death, walked out of their tent into a blizzard to his demise after famously remarking, “I am going outside. I may be some time.”…

View original post 2,043 more words

Friends of the Earth f**ck it up.

In 2017 Friends of the Earth had their knuckles wrapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for a very inaccurate leaflet on fracking.

They, especially Tony Bosworth and Craig Bennett,  tried to  talk their way out of the inaccuracies!!

Some of us received this leaflet in periodicals we subscribed to in October 2015.


A delicious irony of this leaflet is that trying to frack at Grasmere would fail as the rocks are almost entirely Borrowdale volcanics! But there is the emotive appeal of showing William Wordsworth’s home village.

Due to its many errors we  (MBR and KW) decided to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority. Our complaints focussed on these claims


If these were true fracking would be a non-starter and should be opposed. It took 15 long months with KW writing backwards and forwards to the ASA as FoE tried to wriggle out of our complaints. Finally after well over a year FoE agreed not to use the arguments again.

Here is a blog from 2015 with our complaints of Friends of the Earth distortions

The response from Friends of the Earth is a bit odd to say the least

Donna Hume, senior campaigner, Friends of the Earth, said:

“Cuadrilla’s complaint isn’t surprising from a profit-driven fracking company, after all, they have shareholders to keep happy.

They started this process to distract from the real issues about fracking, and how burning fossil fuels is dangerous for climate change. This is a pro-fracking company doing all they can to shut down opposition to fracking. It hasn’t worked though. What’s happened instead is that the ASA has dropped the case without ruling.

“We continue to campaign against fracking, alongside local people, because the process of exploring for and extracting shale gas is inherently risky for the environment, this is why fracking is banned or put on hold in so many countries.”

What follows is first our press release and secondly an account of Friends of the Earth’s activities in Lancashire during the last five years

Press Release 3rd January 2017

Friends of the Earth caught Misleading the Public (Embargo till 4th January)

Two pensioners expose false claims from a respected ‘charity’

For the past couple of years, Ken Wilkinson and Michael Roberts have been questioning the supposed science behind many claims made by anti frack groups and made complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). In all cases, these groups have failed to justify their claims, and have withdrawn their adverts, on the condition that they do not present them again. This is the usual practice of the ASA. A ‘mea culpa’ admission of error is made and this is published on the ASA website. This avoids the embarrassment of the complaint details becoming public.  

The adverts complained about are

  • Frack Free Somerset (2014)

  • Frack Free Alliance. (2015)

  • Resident Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF 2015)

  • Frack Free Ryedale,  and finally, the big one,

  • A leaflet from Friends of the Earth (FoE) (2015)

[I deal with these here ]

FoE have fought tooth and nail for over a year to stop the publication of this information which is highly damaging to their anti fracking campaign. It covers the key points used to scare the public.

   The ASA, for more than a year, consulted with experts and corresponded with FoE…. and still the ASA concluded that FoE were misleading the public on all counts.

FoE appeared desperate to protect their claims after the draft report was  leaked and reported on the front page of The Times by asking for several time extensions.

However FoE knew they could not substantiate their misleading claims and have agreed with the ASA that future ads will not include claims that imply:

  1. the fluid used in fracking contains chemicals dangerous to human health, and that the fluid would, as a natural consequence of the act of fracking, contaminate the drinking water of nearby communities because it remained underground;

  2. the US fracking site referred to was responsible for the increase in asthma rates, and that the public would be at risk of equivalent increases in asthma rates by living or working near a fracking site in the UK;

  3. that there is an established risk of the chemicals concerned causing cancer and other conditions among the local population, when used in fracking in the UK;

  4. that fracking will cause plummeting house prices.

They have had to promise not to repeat these claims, as they have been unable to provide evidence to support them. This means that the whole rationale of their campaign against shale gas is based on pseudoscience.

It is also a matter of serious concern that a supposed charity uses false information to raise money, using the cover of a limited company, to avoid reputational damage(see page 4). After an article from The Times, it is also unclear whether people are donating to a limited company or a charity.

We will be contacting FoE to see if they will give an assurance that they will comply with the promises they have made to the ASA not to repeat their false claims. We understand the ASA have stated

‘FoE also explained that they would be willing not to repeat the claims, or claims which have the same meaning, in future, and we have therefore agreed to close the case informally.

The ASA only cover paid for advertising, but an untruth is an untruth, wherever it appears.

Perhaps the press could contact FoE to see what they plan to do?

  • Will FoE continue to go around to local areas spreading false information?

  • Will the Charity Commission accept deliberate misinformation from an NGO?

  • Will they remove the false claims from their website?

  • Will they advise protest groups that they have been caught misleading the public?

  • Will they modify their support material to remove misleading and false information?

  • What will the Fund Raising Standards Board have to say? (We have also complained to them)

Please feel free to contact to discuss further. The ASA will simply record that an advert has been withdrawn and that FoE have promised not to repeat their claims. Due to be published 4th Jan 2017

Please respect the 4th January embargo

Contact details.


Please be aware that we are both totally independent of the industry. We feel that it is immoral for anti frack campaigners to spread fear, (and hence opposition) based on incorrect science, fabrication of evidence, and deliberate scaremongering. Risks need to be properly evaluated, by engineers and scientists. The Royal Academy of Engineering looked at this in 2012 and found it to be ‘low risk’ (ie. safe) and that has been reflected in many other expert technical reports. We are NOT ‘pro fracking’ as such, we are anti BS, such as that put about by FoE.      KW+MBR


Account of FoE in Lancashire 2011 -2017

Shortly after Cuadrilla put in thei r applications for fracking in february 2014. Not for shale signs appeared all round the area creating angst among residents

Friends of the Earth

FoE needs little introduction as one of the leading Green NGOs. Their involvement in Lancashire goes back five years and here is a brief account of their activities

In about 2011 FoE adopted an anti-fracking position nationally and members became involved in the Fylde. Andy Atkins CEO of FoE visited the Fylde 12/1011 and encouraged local groups

Speaking at a Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF) event in Hesketh Bank, Andy Atkins said

we should focus on renewables – not dirty energy and unproven practices.

Local residents formed REAF after energy company Cuadrilla Resources announced plans to extract gas by fracking across Lancashire.

The controversial technique involves fracturing the rock and then using water, sand and chemicals to release the gas.

There are credible health and environmental concerns over fracking.

Only this year Cuadrilla stopped drilling after a second earthquake in 2 monthshit the Blackpool area. Investigations into a possible link are on-going.

And to avoid dangerous climate change we need to invest in green power and cut energy waste. The carbon footprint of gas is much bigger than that of renewable energy.

Shale gas is neither clean nor proven to be safe. Drilling it will cause climate-changing emissions and could pollute water supplies.

Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth

Andy Atkins reassured Lancastrians that the UK’s huge green energy potential could:

  • Stabilise energy bills long term
  • Create thousands of skilled jobs in Lancashire and throughout the UK

Friends of the Earth is pushing for a moratorium on fracking – like those already in place in France and some US states.

Atkins 13/10/11 on fracking

On 17/4/12 Atkins wrote to Lancashire Evening Post

“We don’t want tremor causing fracking”

Andy Atkins, the charity’s executive director, said:

“We don’t need earth tremor-causing fracking to meet our power needs – we need a seismic shift in energy policy. “Earth tremors aren’t the only risks associated with fracking, it’s also been linked to air and water pollution and produces gas that causes climate change. A short consultation on one of the problems is inadequate.”

[note that the agreement with ASA means Atkins was wrong]

Read more at:

21/7/13 Atkins gave a green award to RAFF

“Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland has awarded ‘Campaign of the Year’ to RAFF – Residents Action on Fylde Fracking.

RAFF said –

“The REAL prize comes WHEN we stop shale gas and other unconventional energy extraction here in the UK and beyond… but for now, this award presents a great opportunity to access the resources and support of Friends of the Earth who have groups throughout the UK and the world.”

Accepting the award, Julie Daniels of RAFF mentioned all the founding members and said that

“the award was for ALL the anti-fracking groups who have worked tirelessly to confront this threat to our communities. Praise, thanks and inclusion in the acceptance of the award went to Ribble Estuary Against Fracking, Frack Free Fylde, Refracktion, Defend Lytham. BIFF ! (Britain & Ireland Frack Free), Frack OFF and others. “

Presenting the award, Andy Atkins, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth said:

“We’re delighted to recognise Residents Against Fylde Fracking for their outstanding campaigning against dirty shale gas. They have inspired communities across the UK with their creativity and commitment, and show what can be achieved when a group of ordinary people come together to protect their community. They deserve to win not just this award but the bigger battle against fracking.”

2014 local worker H Rimmer at was at RAFF meetings in support. At one meeting were given the brochure Shale Gas:the Facts, which was the subject our our first complaint to the ASA on groups in Lancashire

2015 FOE organised training days for local groups in Lancashire assisting them with presentations at the hearings at County Hall Preston in June 2015.  (I heard most of the presentations, which were mostly inaccurate.)

The LCC’s planning officer’s Development Control Committee report for the Preston New Road planning application (P471/472 was thorough and detailed ):

In it he said;

“Up to the end of May 2015 a total of 13448 representations objecting to the proposal had been received. 5 were received as duplicate letters from the same individuals. 1797 of the objections were from within Fylde and this is 2.9% of the adult population (2.37% of total population of Fylde Borough) and 116 were from within a 2km radius of the site. 6329 of the representations were from received from outside Lancashire. Of the total number of objections 1251 are individual letters and 13433 template letters many of which were submitted by Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Lancashire.”

As the hearings had almost finished in June 2015 the FoE barrister gave opinion contrary to LCC barrister to cllrs. This appears to have swung the final decision.

The fact that LCC permitted unsolicited legal opinion, procured by Friends of the Earth, to be put before the development control committee in June last year but refused to let councillors see legal opinion obtained by UKOOG just shows how “local democracy” has been usurped by fracking opponents.

In October 2015 the leaflet Don’t let fracking destroy all of this was paid for to be included in  The Sunday Times, Private Eye and Simple Things. From here we put in our complaint to the ASA, which resulted in much correspondence between us, the ASA and FoE.

In 2016 Jan The Times ran an article on the concern over the leaflet

In 2016 Feb/Mar there was an  Foe barrister at Blackpool hearings on the appeal by Cuadrilla

It is difficult not to conclude that  FoE influenced locals and whipped up opposition. So that groups became  echo-chambers for FoE and anti views

Leaflet omits main reason for opposition is Climate change

The Year of our Lord 2022

It seems that Friends of the earth has not learnt from its previous bad behaviour and continues in its old ways!

What drivers need to know about cyclists…

Today I was cycling along a road on our housing estate and a car driven by a young woamn of 75-80 overtook and then promptly turned left forcing me to turn left as well.

This is typical of a number of drivers of all ages, and far exceed the number of hoodlum cyclists who jump red lights.


Other times when I am indicating right, motorists are oblivious of my intentions and will not let me turn right, in contravention of Highway Code Rule 167 cited here;

Rule 167

DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example

  • approaching or at a road junction on either side of the road
  • where the road narrows
  • when approaching a school crossing patrol
  • between the kerb and a bus or tram when it is at a stop
  • where traffic is queuing at junctions or road works
  • when you would force another road user to swerve or slow down
  • at a level crossing
  • when a road user is indicating right, even if you believe the signal should have been cancelled. Do not take a risk; wait for the signal to be cancelled
  • stay behind if you are following a cyclist approaching a roundabout or junction, and you intend to turn left
  • when a tram is standing at a kerbside tram stop and there is no clearly marked passing lane for other traffic.

Recently Jeremy Vine was cut up by a motorist in London



This is taken from the cyclinguk blog

Source: What drivers need to know about cyclists… 

What drivers need to know about cyclists…

Let’s get one thing straight: I am a car driver, I love driving my car, but because I am a cyclist too, there are some things I’d love to explain to all drivers to stop them beeping, shouting, revving behind me and overtaking too close when I am on my bike.

I am not here to defend law-breaking cyclists, just as you will never hear the AA defending drunk drivers or speeding motorists. Here at Cycling UK we believe it is not ok for cyclists to break the law, jump red lights and cycle on pavements. There is a minority that do, like there is a minority of motorists who talk on their mobiles while driving. This is not about point-scoring smugness – I’d just like us to all get along and make the roads a safer and a much less stressful place.

I suppose I just want to explain to the driver who this morning beeped and shouted at me that, like the majority of cyclists, I have not chosen my road position just to annoy you or make you late – I am cycling in the safest place for me and for you, I am avoiding potholes, the gutter, your blindspot and a dangerous junction. I realise it is frustrating for you to overtake me three times, because I catch up with you again and again in a traffic jam – but I do need to get to work too and even though you tell me to “get off road”, I don’t want to cycle on the pavement as it is illegal and I may hurt someone.

This driver’s reaction is quite common, but in many ways it is not always surprising that they think this way. They don’t cycle regularly and no one has ever explained to them why cyclists don’t want to ride in the gutter and “out of the way”.

I’d like there to be more understanding on both sides; 80% of cyclists and 94% of adult Cycling UK members hold a valid driving licence, whereas 18% of AA members cycle.”

Victoria Hazael, Cycling UK Senior Communications Officer 

As our roads get more congested, people are more frustrated as they battle through the traffic, especially in rush hour. I get stressed when I am struck in a traffic jam and stress makes people angry and angry people shout and beep. I understand that inside the safety of a car you might shout, swear and say things that you wouldn’t normally dream of saying to a stranger – but somehow when you are driving, you get frustrated. It happens.

To put it bluntly, I’d love to have a chat with the driver who had a go at me this morning and explain these things to them face to face, but I am too timid to stop and ask them to meet me for a cuppa and fear the whole thing would just descend into an argument, so instead I take the coward’s way out – I write a blog.

Here’s a list of things I would love all drivers to know and I think it is every cyclist’s responsibility to share these with drivers, so that there is more understanding between us and therefore fewer people dying or being injured on our roads:

What every driver needs to know about sharing the road with a cyclist:

  1. Do not get impatient with cyclists who ride away from the kerb or parked cars. Cyclists are trained not to hug the kerb. This is because cycling away from the gutter increases their visibility and helps them avoid the risks of a) parked car doors opening on them; b) being overtaken where this would be dangerous; and c) having to swerve towards the traffic stream to avoid potholes.
  2. Always look carefully for cyclists before pulling out at a junction or roundabout. Junctions are risky places for cyclists  – around three quarters of incidents involving them happen at or near them.
  3. Always look carefully for cyclists before making any turning manoeuvre or changing lanes in slower-moving/stationary traffic. This is particularly important for lorry drivers.
  4. Leave plenty of space when overtaking a cyclist, i.e. at least a car’s width when overtaking at lower speeds (20-30mph); and allow even more space (a) when travelling at higher speeds; (b) when driving a lorry or any other large vehicle; (c) in poor weather (rain makes it harder for cyclists to see potholes, and wind gusts can cause them to wobble).
  5. Never cut in/turn left sharply after overtaking a cyclist. Drivers do not appreciate this either when other drivers do it to them – it is, in fact, one of the top five causes of driver stress.
  6. Wait for a cyclist to ride through a pinch point (i.e. a road narrowing caused by something like a pedestrian refuge) before driving past, unless you are absolutely certain that there is enough room to overtake them at a safe distance.
  7. Drive at a considerate speed, don’t accelerate or brake rapidly without good reason around cyclists or follow them impatiently/too closely. ‘Tailgating’ intimidates drivers and cyclists.
  8. Before turning out of a minor into a major road, wait for any cyclist riding along the major road to pass you – don’t turn out in front of them.
  9. Give way to oncoming cyclists when they have right of way – don’t try to squeeze past.
  10. Make it obvious to a cyclist that you have seen them – apparent inattention is confusing.
  11. Signal intentions clearly to cyclists. Again, drivers expect this of other drivers and it causes them stress if it doesn’t happen.
  12. Make sure you understand how advanced stop lines (ASLs) and mandatory/advisory cycle lanes work and the regulations that apply. Also, be aware of cycle symbols painted on the road and understand why they are there.
  13. Do not park in cycle lanes, as this forces cyclists using them to pull out into the main stream of traffic, a manoeuvre that could put them at risk.
  14. Look out for cyclists before opening a car door, and make sure your passengers do likewise. It is an offence to injure or simply endanger someone by opening a vehicle door, or permitting someone else to do so. If dropping off a passenger when stationary at traffic lights, make sure they check for cyclists riding up on the inside or outside.
  15. It is not compulsory for cyclists to use cycle tracks beside the road. All too many of these tracks are not well designed/maintained, or they may be obstructed. It is often better for cyclists (especially faster cyclists) to ride on the carriageway, both for their own and pedestrians’ safety.
  16. Cyclists riding in groups (e.g. on recreational rides) are not required to ride in single file and often ride two abreast on narrow and winding lanes in the interests of safety. If they form a long, single-file line, drivers may try to overtake only to find that they are forced to pull in dangerously. Riding two abreast is a way of deterring drivers from dangerous overtaking manoeuvres.
  17. Aggressive behaviour is inappropriate towards all road users, including cyclists – it is something that drivers put in their top five causes of stress.

Cycling UK campaigns on many fronts, including road safety. For example, we’d like to see cycle awareness training becoming an integral part of driver training and testing.

Currently, two of our major campaigns are Road Justice (seeking to change driver attitudes and the way the law handles bad driving), and Space for Cycling (calling for conditions where anyone can cycle, anywhere, and funding to match).

Victoria Hazael

Lessons from the Peleton


I nicked this from Bishop Lee Rayfield of Bristol diocese who draws a Christian message from road cycling. Some useful thoughts, but I’d never be a road cyclist and regard an average of 10 mph as good


Top of Jeffrey Hill, near Longridge, which has a section of 1 in 5 or 20%, which I cycle up each year along with other hills

Lessons from the Peloton

Bishop LeeIn this lighter summertime piece, Bishop Lee looks at the sport of road cycling to draw some parallels with what is expected of Christian disciples.

Those who know me well appreciate that two things are very close to my heart – road cycling and the Lord Jesus Christ. With the Tour de France still fresh in our minds and the Tour of Britain coming soon this seems a good moment to ask “What do professional road cyclists and Christian disciples have in common?” Here are a few thoughts with some Bible references for further reflection and exploration:

Teamwork – although some still believe that the 198 cyclists who line up for the Tour de France are all out to win the competition for themselves they are mistaken. It is all about the team working with and for one another. Being a follower of Jesus is not about a solo performance but working with others in the Church, the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Gifting – the team contains cyclists who can maintain high speed on rolling terrain (rouleurs), sprinters who can ride for one hundred miles or more yet still finish the last 200m at over 40 mph, and climbers who can fly up steep hills or one mountain gradient after another. Every person’s gift is valued and honed for the good of the whole team (1 Corinthians 12: 12-31).

Serving – some cyclists spend their whole career as domestiques. They have no aspiration of winning; their role is to ensure that others – especially the lead rider – are protected, provided for, and given every opportunity to win either a stage or the overall race (Mark 10: 41-45).

One Leader – in any race, but particularly in a stage race such as the Tour de France, one person is the nominated leader in the overall competition. When there are two potential leaders, or occasionally even three, it usually spells trouble! For followers of Jesus it must never be about us but about Christ (1 Corinthians 3: 1-11).

Suffering – a word you will hear a lot among amateur road cyclists as well as professionals. Getting better as a cyclist does not abrogate suffering, rather it means learning how to bear it for longer. Road cyclists have to dig deep and learn to keep going when their body is telling them to stop, to give up (John 19: 23-27).

Sacrifice – on long mountain stages, the pace will get faster and faster as one member of the team after another rides on the front to provide cover for their leader and bear the brunt of the wind resistance. Team members sacrifice themselves by giving everything they have before dropping back totally spent and plummeting down the ranking (John 21: 18-19).

Courage – mountain descents and bunch sprints require tremendous nerve. Crashes during the madcap sprint are all too common, often ending in broken bones and smashed faces. Following the cyclists down mountains at speeds of up to 70 mph has caused journalists in their cars to be in tears because they have been so frightened. (Esther 7: 3-4).

Cheating – sadly professional road cycling, and even some amateur competitions, have been tainted by doping. From the very beginning of the sport there have been those who have taken drugs and other substances to improve their own chances. In the Lance Armstrong era doping was not only endemic but part of a culture of fear and corruption. (1 John 1: 5-2: 2).

Joy and Thanksgiving – at the end of each stage, and far more so at the conclusion of the entire race, the joy on the faces of the whole team and the gratitude that the winner expresses to his teammates is wonderful. In a competition such as the Tour de France the winnings are shared by the whole team (Romans 12: 9-21).

In penning this I want to conclude with two thoughts. First, men’s road racing is more familiar than women’s because of events such as the Tour de France, but each dimension above applies as much to women road cyclists as it does to men. (I chose Esther as an example of courage as a reminder of this). Unlike professional cycling, discipleship requires us to work in close partnership across gender, not in separate compartments.

Second, one of the reasons I find road cycling a powerful illustration for discipleship is because it says something I believe men need to hear about the nature of following Jesus Christ, namely that it is demanding, tough and deeply rewarding. My sense is that men need more help in recognizing these dimensions of the Christian life. Perhaps hanging a racing bike inside or outside the church might promote an interesting engagement around this by men and women?

August 2016

Seeing rocks slant; Unconformities; old and new


One of the most telling of all geological structures are Unconformities where new rocks lie on older ones , often at an angle as this diagram shows;


The most famous is Siccar Point which James Hutton discovered in  the 18th century and described here by Paul Braterman;

I have never been to Siccar Point but have seen many other unconformities and here are some I have seen recently. I conclude with layers of sand deposited in the December floods.

Steamboat Unconformity, Black Hills SD.


This unconformity lies in the northern Black Hills about 25 miles from Rapid City and suffers from a surfeit of students. The steeply dipping beds are 1,500 my Precambrian phyllites  and above are the almost horizontal Cambrian sandstones of the Deadwood formation  in the order of 500 my. A friend Mike often goes there and has a hand on each series and says “There is a billion years between my hands”, no doubt upsetting his creationist students, as I did.

Grand Canyon


This is almost the CLASSIC unconformity in the USA of almost horizontal Cambrian lying on older Precambrian of the Vishnu series – over 1,500 my. Above that is the long, almost horizontal sequence up to the Kaibab, which is Permian (280 my). It is an incredible walk down to the bottom of the Canyon to the Colorado River and then ascending again.The shortest route is the Bright Angel Trail from the south side. as you see in the picture below it is a long way down and the dry river bed in the centre is only half-way down. The Colorado River is hidden from view.  Guidebooks advise against walking it in a day but some do just that in August in temperatures of 115 degrees plus in less than nine hours.

494 You can follow the various formations for miles and below is a cross-section of the Canyon.



Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs

Yellowstone is the oldest National Park in the world and is a fascinating place, even though over-commercialised. It is one vast volcano with a ginormous caldera. A future eruption is on the card. Sadly most crawl round in their cars and miss the best of walking away from the crowds. grizzlys, wolves and bisons are common and it is advisable to attach a bear bell to your rucsac and take pepper spray. It is said that you can identify grizzly scat by the presence of bearbells.

There are vast number of hotsprings but fortunately more people go to Old faithful than all the other springs put together. At the north of the park are Mammoth Springs which are highly active and always changing. The most interesting thing at Mammoth Hot Spring are the hot springs with several tiers of springs.



However looking east above the town you can see a fine unconformity of red Mesozoic beds lying unconformably on slightly older grey calcareous ones.This is not a patch on the previous two, but still dramatic – at least by British standards.



And so to England;

Ingleton Falls, Yorkshire

The finest mountain in the Yorkshire Dales is Ingleborough, though it is no great height. This shot taken in january 2015 shows the almost horizontal strata giving a fine succession of lower Carboniferous rocks, starting with limestone and then going to grits and shales (equivalent in age to Bowland shales). The photo is looking south-east from Chapel le Dale but five miles south are the Ingleton Falls ,


where Carboniferous Limestone (~350 my) lies unconformably on tilted Ordovician slates and greywackes of the Ingleton Group  (~420my). All the Devonian is missing!


Anthropocene/Carboniferous Unconformity

Recently, geologists and others reckon we should recognise a new geological sequence in which the main agent is human, and thus call it the Anthropocene. It only includes the last few thousand years lof geological time. Driving to Durham this week as we passed the ruins of Barnard Castle, dating from the latter part of the 12th century, and I thought “That’s an Anthropocene-Carboniferous unconformity”. With 320 million years of time between the strata!

And so we have a horizontal bedded anthropocene deposit of reworked Carboniferous sandstones lying on top of slightly tilted Namurian Millstone Grit (320my ). The castle is made up of reworked Carboniferous sandstone then deposited in a more orderly fashion!!

I have to admit to being slightly flippant, but this does show geological effects of humans and also the disparity of geological time.


Sand Deposits, December 2015

Yes, there is still deposition today and during the floods in Lancashire of December 2015, much sand was laid down. I often stop by a bridge over the River Wyre between Scorton and Dolphinholme while cycling. I see the changing seasons and varying volumes of water in the river. Today it was tranquil,but last month a raging torrent would have been where I stood and probably above my head. As the water receded it left a few inches of sand and silt, as is apparent in this photo. If you dug a trench down you would find a succession of layers of varying thickness  and most would lie horizontal on the lower ones.



In spring there are bluebells and snowdrops here. I was amazed to see one snowdrop just bursting into flower. It seemed to be making a brave statement against the rather torn-up vegetation around it. It is incredible to think that just weeks before water was surging around here and yet this tiny snowdrop survived.



And for all this, nature is never spent;

there lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

Gerard Manley Hopkins, God’s Grandeur



The Tour of Britain, Nick o’Pendle, 303metres , in slow motion

With the Tour Britain cycle race due to hit our area on Monday 7th Sept, I decided to cycle out and re-do their big hill Nick o’Pendle  above Clitheroe on today the Friday before. I did not follow the whole route as Garstang is 12 miles from Longridge, so I did a 54 mile bike ride with a good chunk of the route, including the Nick of Pendle.

002I did a figure of eight with Longridge at the centre. I went via Goosnargh with its lovely church and then on to Longridge Where I









And past Stoneyhurst the Roman Catholic public school and so past a superb mediaeval bridge

009 010

I continued toward Clitheroe with views of Pendle hill in front and crossed the Ribble where I stopped for a second cup of sweet coffee and a cold sausage!

011 012

And so I hit Clitheroe and circled round the castle built on a Walsortian mound of Carboniferous limestone. I then turned due south with a 220 metre or 700ft climb ahead of me.

015 016

At first the climb was steady and gentle, with Pendle Hill and the stupendous Little Mearley gully to my left. The climb steadily steepened and I did not stop to take a photo of a superb array of scabious. A 14% slope puts you off a bit, but more was to come. The road can be seen running diagonally up the side of the hill. (RH photo)


018 019

Pendle and Mearley were still on the left with a lone wind turbine, wistfully standing on Bowland Shale, which contains so much methane. By now I was in my “granny” which is 24 teeth and as I turned a corner the road steepened and I now used my reduction gears so I was pedalling faster than the wheel was turning. I suppose I really need granddad gears!

021 022

That section was marked as 1 in 5 or 20% on the map and felt like it. Fortuantely after another bend the gradient eased off  but as I twiddled upwards I did not take a photo of ski-lift, which is an absurdity here. After another third of a mile there was a steep bend to the left and I was at the top



023I couldn’t help noting the steeply dipping

Pendle Grits dipping steeply to the village of Sabden below.




Near the summit was a memorial stone with red poppies. It was another recent memorial to allied pilots who sadly crashed here during WWII. It was to an Australian and American piot who crashed on separate occasions. The Oz pilot’s nephew had come to visit.



029 030

After a well earned lunch it was time to descend, first passing an old quarry and noting some “Slow” signs for the benefit of Tour riders. The descent into the village of Sabden is very steep and far more so than the north side. It was OK to descend but an ascent is beyond me now.

033 034

I doubt if Tour riders will slow to 30 mph as they enter Sabden , a lovely village with many houses built in Pendle Grit and probably obtained from the quarry at the top of the hill. at the bottom of the hill I turned right on the Whalley road, which was rolling Lancashire country at its best and relatively easy. There were beautiful views of Pendle Hill behind me.

035 036

Whalley would be worth a visit with its ruined abbey, but I had to press on. I stopped for a moment on the bridge over the river Calder to view the railway viaduct and glance back into the town. I am afraid I did not go to look at the recent hydro scheme on the Calder

037  038

From Whalley I suffered busy road for a mile before turning off to a lovely road on the south side of the River Ribble, getting  a final view of Pendle Hill and the Nick (right of photo) . As I crossed the Ribble I stopped for yet more sweet coffee. (Health fanatic please note!!)  A few miles further  I hit Ribchester  and rode down to the river and failed to take any photos. However last month we went there to look at the Roman remains and here’s our grandson looking at the Roman baths.


Ribchester is at 26 metres and the only way back is a steady 100 metre climb back to Longridge for three miles. My speedometer was recording about 8mph  and I expect the Tour riders will be doing at least double that.  And so it was back into Longridge , another town built of Pendle Grit.

040 004

I still had a dozen miles to go, and went back via Inglewhite a village with a lovely cross in the middle of its green. In just over the hour I was back home, having had a superb bike ride but doing it in a most immemorable time, as I had averaged a stupendous 8 mph !

One of the joys of cycling in Lancashire is the immense variety of the scenery, some excellent building with much history. Despite what some claim, if you stick to minor roads, there is relatively little traffic and these makes for enjoyable cycling as you explore, rather than race through, a picturesque area.

The best cycle ride in Lancashire; Trough of Bowland

That is quite a claim to make that one cycle ride could be the best in a county, but I think I am justified. It is a circular route from our house in Garstang (which is nearly at sea level), and is basically from Garstang , over the Trough of Bowland (950ft), through or near Whitewell, on to Chipping and then back to Garstang via Inglewhite.  Depending which alternatives you choose it is 36 to 40 miles and well over 2000ft of climbing. Today I chose the anti-clockwise route, including an extra hill, so I cycled 36 miles, climbed over 2,600ft and did it in 4 hours and 3 minutes. The weather improved whole way round and yesterday’s rain meant clear views.


And so I left home at bang on 2  and set off on back roads through Inglewhite going past their cross on the green and on to the village of Chipping where I had some sweet coffee just outside the church. Shortly before Chipping I had this lovely view of Parlick (1400ft) with more of the Bowland Fells behind. My daughter and son-in-law were up there yesterday and came back as drowned rats.


Having been fortified with unhealthy sugar and witnessing a retired cleric bombing down a hill on a mobility scooter I set off and turned left on a lane where I was presented with a fine view of Pendle Hill of witches’ fame and for giving the type section of the Bowland Shales. The top of the hill is – Pendle Grit!



And so onwards and upwards needing to climb over 300ft on this stretch. I was now on Her majesty’s lands – i.e the Duchy of Lancaster. The hills were unklike the Pendle Grit Fells just to the easy as they were knolls of limestone – in fact limestone mud, but I didn’t stop to look for fossils.



003And so upwards past a farm. Somewhere I saw a stoat or a weasel. I was quite pleased to get to the top with my ticker ticking at about 142 beats per minute. A quick stop for the view  and then whoosh – downhill – but kept stopping for photos.






And so looking down to the River Hodder 300 ft below and the upper Hooder beyond Dunsop Bridge behind with a Yorkshire Dales mountain just visible. As you see the country scents were not honeysuckle, but common and garden shit.





Another fine view with Waddington Fell to the right. There’s another grand ride over there.




007It was tempting to shout “chocks away” here and I did, but only touched 30 mph before caution prevailed with bends ahead. Straight ahead in the valley is Dunsop Bridge – the official centre of mainland Britain. It is famous for its ducks and a café.




Well, down to a bridge of the Hodder, one of the cleanest rivers in Lancs. Off to the left is Whitwell with its posh pub and scenic church, which has a wedding every five minutes. The Environment Agency planted all these trees to protect the bank. Last year I met the man who planted them and doted on them. A good example of an EA employee.





And so I pedalled up the Hodder Valley but 009turned left instead of going to Dunsop Bridge up my favourite Bowland river – Langdon Brook, which has two incredible upper tributaries. Another steady climb past a Catholic church celebrating its 150th birthday  and then looking down on Langdon Brook. I love this stretch of road. I looked over to a 20,000 year old landslide, where an area of 100 by 300 yards of Bowland Shales decided to slide downhill and may have dammed the river.  Ancient landslips are very common here.

010And so I stopped by a little bridge just up from the usual carpark. I first chatted to a horse and then consumed the rest of my unhealthy coffee.  The view uphill was to Sykes farm, a delightful place right on the road . The hill behind is Top of Blaze Moss, which I have been over many times following invisible paths.


011The view the other way showed where I had come from and gives no idea what lay ahead.







After Sykes Farm I went past Sykes Anticline, a great geological site of limestone. Last year I collect a large hunk of coral which I pooped into my panniers, From here it was all uphill with over 400ft of climbing in a mile.





I stopped for an undisclosed reason and took a photo of my steed with the Sykes Anticline behind. 200 years ago lead was mined half way up the crag.






This photo looking uphill is deceptive. You can just make out a car on the steep part of the climb (directly above the 3rd post from the left) As I remounted I engaged my baby chainwheel ready for the grind up. I got up with a gear to spare (but I do have reduction gearing) and cycled past a fine exposure of the Upper Bowland Shales, but did not stop to look at them. My ticker got to 152 ticks a minute up this hill!!

016 And so to the summit, with a lovely view behind. I soon passed the Yorks/Lancs boundary stone and then it was downhill all the way with a thousand feet of altitude to lose.



017Now this was the reward, a fantastic descent through moorland to the upper Wyre valley. It is the right gradient as you go fast but not to fast.






018Leaving the moorland behind , The Marshaw valley is exquisite, especially as no one was there. A lovely river with trees either side  – and – of course – FOXGLOVES.




020But just off the road you can go through a gate onto the moors again  but bikes were not allowed









And the river, not very full at present.









Another view of the road






Two barns over the wall with mandatory foxgloves.

From here I pedalled on with another climb on the side of Haythornthwaite Fell, which is popular with the royals.





024     And before my final descent of 600ft to Garstang a look back at the fells – looking to Wolfhole Crag at 1700ft  – again with invisible paths





And so I returned from my nth time of cycling one of the best routes in Lancashire. I was lucky with the weather. I have done it in all seasons, including under snow and it always feels new.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God

G M Hopkins

MEDACT report on the bad health effects of Cycling (warning – spoof)



Following on from their much accoladed report of Fracking, the leftie medic group MEDACT have published a report on the dangers of cycling. I have obtained a leaked hard copy. The web version will be available on Thermidor 13 this year.( Medact have decided to use the French revolutionary calendar.)

Perhaps it is best that I summarise the health risks of cycling according to this report;

1. Numbnut syndrome. This is caused by sitting for long periods on what can only be described as a horizontal tube. It has the effect of squashing a man’s tackle and as well as the immediate effect of an embarrassing numbness, it can also cause erectile dysfunction and loss of sperm count. However one medic did see this as an advantage as a form of population control.

2. neck and spinal problems

3. Wrist and hand problems

4. Knee problems

5. Traffic pollution

6. agricultural pollution – VOCs from silageing etc.

7. Danger of loss of electrolytes in summer

8. Danger of too much sugar and electrolytes in power drinks (whether manufactured or (worse) homemade).

9. Danger of heart attacks on steep hills (especially for over-50s)

On top of that are the inherent physical dangers

1. Minor crashes can result in extensive grazing allowing infection by bacteria

2. Dangers of crashing catastrophically by hitting gravel, potholes or spilled diesel.

3. very serious risk from other road users as cyclists are very vulnerable and liable to suffer death or life-changing injuries in a collision

All these add up to cycling being highly dangerous and laible to shorten lives or give rise to various serious ailments. The authors say that it cannot be properly regulated to make it safe. However they did make several recommendations, which could mitigate riskes for those who with to cycle. Some of these are;

1.The minimum age for cycling should be 25.

2. The maximum age should be 50.

3. All cyclists must learn to cycle in a designated place and pass a stringent test

4.Cycles must have speed governors limiting the speed to 10 mph.

5. All cyclists must wear a helmet and arm and leg guards

6. Cyclists may only use designated cycle paths.

On the publication of the report, presentations will be given throughout Britain and grassroots pressure will be put on leftie councillors to make this mandatory in each council area. They argued that due to the extreme right-wing, libertarian, and totalitarian nature of the present government, it will not be possible to persuade Westminster to implement the much needed safety measures.


Maybe a bit of a spoof, but I guarantee most members of Medact would reject what I suggest above and regard the recent blog by Justin Varney on the Public Health England blog, which I give below, as excellent as I do.

Much of what Varney writes has been expressed elsewhere in various reports but it is a good summary of the health benefits of cycling. However Medact do not have a high regard for the PHE report on the health implications of fracking as a tweet has just said (9pm 18/6/15) at the Preston meeting “David McCoy says that Public Health England need to do a proper impact assessment”.

Now either read the blog on cycling (and take it up 🙂 )  or scroll to the end of it when I shall consider Medact and PHE on Fracking and health.

Pedalling your way to better health

Cycling is not just great for your health – travelling to work on your bike can mean a faster, less stressful and more efficient daily commute.

This week is Bike Week in the UK and it’s a great opportunity to take part in local events that help you get back on the bike and get pedalling.

Supporting more people to cycle safely to work is a key component of getting everybody active every day. Modelling done in 2012 estimated that a 10% increase in cycling and walking in urban centres in England would generate a cost saving to the NHS alone of over £15 million within 3 years, and the savings over 20 years were modelled at over £1 billion.

The benefits of being active every day have positive impact on knee, hip and back pain, depression, type 2 diabetes, cardio-vascular disease as well as breast, bowel and colon cancer. There is specific evidence showing that cycling can be a great way to reduce knee and hip pain, and could potentially help to avoid needing a hip replacement.

Creating safer cycling routes requires action at several levels of the public health system – a joined up approach is essential. The economic modelling from the Cycling Cities project suggested that for every £1 spent there was a return of between £2.6-3.50.

Local authorities working with Local Enterprise Partnerships should be prioritising cycling and walking in transport infrastructure and street space design. The recent survey by the LGA found that over three quarters of the local authorities surveyed had a walking and cycling strategy to promote local action and over half had updated the cycling components within the last two years.

The National Cycling Network is a series of traffic-free paths and quiet, on-road cycling and walking routes that connect to every major town and city. In its 20th year, over 4.8 million people used the network to walk or cycle in 2013 and over a quarter of journeys were daily commutes.

Cities like London are taking action to make routes even safer for cyclists, restructuring major roads to separate cyclists from traffic and reformatting complex intersections to make them safer for pedestrians, cyclists and cars.

Partnerships between local authorities, schools, charities and workplaces can support more children and adults to learn to ride bikes safely, as well as providing secure cycle parking, showers, changing and drying facilities, so that the cycle to work doesn’t mean a sweaty day in the office.

The national Cycle to Work Scheme enables organisation’s employees to get bikes and accessories tax-free. Across the country organisations like CTC and Sustrans are offering cycling training and skills courses, support for local employers and public sector partnerships to turn the evidence base into action.

Organisations like British Schools Cycling Association and British Cycling are working with schools across England so that cycling to school, work and in those day to day short trips becomes a habit of a lifetime. While the partnership between Sky and British Cycling has brought Sky Rides to communities across England.

Cycling is something that can be done by almost everyone

And cycling is something that can be done by almost everyone. I was really inspired last year by Wheels for Wellbeing, who were at the launch of Everybody Active Every Day. Wheels for Wellbeing is a charity run by and for disabled people who have discovered that cycling is a fantastic way to keep fit and mobile, build confidence and have fun.

Cycling can be easier than walking for many people with disabilities, and a useful form of everyday transport. Their director Isabelle Clement whizzes around London between meetings in her wheelchair bike, really demonstrating that cycling commuting is possible for everyone.

In my own team we have worked to practice what we preach, supporting two staff members last year to learn to ride a bike for the first time and we now share a team bike for nipping between meetings in central London.

This week seems as good a time as any to get on your bike!


At the end of March MEDACT launched ther report Health and Fracking at the end of March, which claimed to report the grave health risks of fracking. This can be seen in scaremongering posters on the Fylde.


It has had a very mixed reaction. It has been welcome by those opposed to fracking and severely questioned by others. As I write (18/6/15) it is being received with adulation in Preston in advance of the council meetings to decide Cuadrilla’s fate. Many fracktivists have a copy to wave!


The authors claim that the PHE report published in October 2013 is severely flawed. You can read this on Its conclusions are summarised ;

“Dr John Harrison, Director of PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, said:

The currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to emissions associated with the shale gas extraction process are low if operations are properly run and regulated.

Where potential risks have been identified in other countries, the reported problems are typically due to operational failure.

Good on-site management and appropriate regulation of all aspects of exploratory drilling, gas capture as well as the use and storage of fracking fluid is essential to minimise the risks to the environment and health.”

Medact reject the conclusions PHE came to but are, in fact, themselves challenged from many quarters and not only by right wing political comment

UKOOG were quick off the mark

and more recent Dr James Verdon of Bristol University has added his two-penny worth.

Here it is in full

Medact Report Gets the Treatment it Deserves

A few months ago I didn’t discuss a report by the charity Medact on the public health implications of shale gas – it simply wasn’t of sufficient quality to be worth bothering with (although a detailed rebuttal from UKOOG is available here).This report formed a major part of opposition group objections to Cuadrilla’s proposed operations in Lancashire. The views of the Lancashire County Council Development Control Committee officers on the Medact report make for interesting reading (p311):

“The Medact report has not produced new epidemiological research but has reviewed published literature and has requested short papers from relevant experts in particular subject areas. It has also interviewed academics and experts.”

“Unfortunately, one of the contributors (contributing to three of the report’s six chapters – chapters 2, 4 and 5) has led a high profile campaign in the Fylde related to shale gas. Another contributor to the report (chapter 3) has previously expressed firm views on shale gas and has objected to this application. This has led to questions from some quarters about the report’s objectivity.”

“In light of these uncertainties it is not clear how much weight the County Council should attach to the report.”

In other words, it’s bunkum, and it’s been given the treatment it deserves. More generally, on public health in general the Development Control Committee found that:

“While much research exists, and is growing in volume each year, it is difficult to gain an objective view of the veracity of the research. Anti-fracking campaigners frequently point to studies that indicate increased health risks (e.g. elevated risks of cancer or birth defects) as a result of shale gas activity in North America. Conversely, pro-fracking campaigners point to numerous methodological flaws in the research. It is also difficult to translate the findings of research from North America into the UK environment. Operating and regulatory practices are very different.”

“PHE highlight significant methodological flaws in the research that has been cited to the County Council.”

“Moreover, one study frequently cited by objectors (McKenzie, 2014) has been publically criticised by the Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in the USA as follows: “we disagree with many of the specific associations with the occurrence of birth defects noted within the study. Therefore, a reader of the study could easily be misled to become overly concerned.””

“PHE state that direct application of the North American research to the UK situation is impossible because of the wide differences between the two countries.”

And they conclude that (my emphases):

“Nevertheless, from the modelling, audit checks and sensitivity analysis conducted by the Environment Agency it is expected there will be no exceedance of standards that protect public health. Public Health England is satisfied the currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to the emissions associated with such extraction are low if the operations are properly run and regulated.”


To get on my bike again, Medact are very selective on what science they will accept. Granted that they are Green and leftwing we can assume that they would approve of any support for cycling as the greenest and healthiest form of transport (and my passion  ) and I cannot see that they would object to any part of the PHE blog on cycling. Why then do the object to PHE’s more thorough work on the health implications of fracking?

I suggest one thing;

A total adherence to an ideology rather than actual health issues

I am off on my bike!