Dove Step Legacy

Three weeks to the day that this picture was taken…

At the finish line! Saltholme RSPB.
At the finish line! Saltholme RSPB.

Covering the 300 miles – in 13 days – for Turtle Doves remains one of the proudest moments of my life. I’ve set this image as the screen saver on my laptop. A daily pep-me-up when I get into the office each morning!

Having got over the physically of the actual walk, the talks and press I almost forgot the ongoing legacy of Dove Step!

Firstly, you can buy Dove Step beer! You can buy Dove Step beer from BlackBar Brewery direct on their open days (see leaflet below) and take it home for your evenings relax or the upcoming BBQ season! I can vouch for it as Rob and myself took opportunity to visit the brewery this weekend. In addition it will be on sale in 3At3 Deli and Cafe Ely and also Beautiful Beers in Bury St Edmunds. Be sure to keep an eye on the BlackBar Brewery website and Twitter feed for further outlets and which pubs will be hosting Dove Step beer over the coming weeks.

BlackBar Brewery Open Days 2014! Get some!
BlackBar Brewery Open Days 2014! Get some!
Entrance to the beer cave!
Entrance to the beer cave!
Dove Step beers! Lots of them!
Dove Step beers! Lots of them!
Dove Step beer  - in a cask!
Dove Step beer – in a cask!
Dove Step beer mini-cask!
Dove Step beer mini-cask!
From right to left Sir Robert Yaxley, Mr Joe 'beer god' Kennedy and myself Jonny Rankin.
From right to left Sir Robert Yaxley, Mr Joe ‘beer god’ Kennedy and myself Jonny Rankin.

So, that is your bank holiday beer requirements catered for!

When we arrived at Saltholme there was a pack of Jordans cereal products waiting for us c/o Conservation Grade. Jordans are one of the Fair to Nature Brands which you can choose to purchase with your weekly shopping. These products are produced to Conservation Grade Standards which are Fair to Nature. Essentially produced on farms that are managed to be more biodiverse, to the benefit of farmland species, including birds and of course Turtle Doves!

The other big legacy of Dove Step is the result of our fundraising which as mentioned in the last blog post equates to:

  • 7 hectares (70 000 square meters) of habitat creation sown with Turtle Dove mix.

At the time of writing the fund raising total stands at £2376.66! Having risen significantly again since my last post. The JustGiving page is still live should you wish to visit or share with friends.

In summary Sir Robert, Andrew and myself are delighted with how Dove Step turned out. We feel we have created the best platform we could to further raise awareness and funds for Operation Turtle Dove and undertake new challenges.

Talking of challenges we have an absolute monster in the planning for 2015!

I’d like to once again draw attention to the thank you post and we look forward to rekindling the Dove Step journey next year.



One week on…

One week since the finished walking and we are just about adjusting to civilian life.

Our legs are still a little sluggish but the feet are largely healing up excepting the very worst affected bits.

The days marching seem like a distant blur now but, looking at the photographs from the finish line brings back awesome memories and emotions. We did it!

At the finish! I love this photo – the RSPB sign and Tees Transporter Bridge behind us. Photo copyright Lydia Tague, RSPB Saltholme


At the finish with Tees Radio and the Northern Echo. Photo copyright Jonny Holliday
At the finish with Tees Radio, friend and family. Photo copyright Jonny Holliday
At the finish with Tees Radio. Photo copyright Jonny Holliday

There has been some great fall out to, an excellent blog on the Saltholme website, an equally great post and finish line interview on the Love Middlesborough blog and I also did a guest post for the RSPB Nature’s Heroes blog this week.

Crucially our fund-raising total has continued to grow since finishing with the JustGiving page now totalling almost £2 200! This translates directly to significant habitat creation for Turtle Doves, in speaking with Operation Turtle Dove this week they confirmed the funds raised would be used where no agri-environmental funding exists to sow Turtle Dove mix. This is particularly timely as there is no funding for agri-enviornmental schemes in 2014 ahead of the government announcing the next scheme. The Dove Step fundraising total, as it stands, equates to 7 hectares of Turtle Dove habitat creation!

That our efforts has equated to 7 hectares (70 000 square meters) of sown Turtle Dove mix is beyond our expectation when we devised Dove Step. We are absolutely delighted!

So, thats it Dove Step 2014. We have of course already devised the next challenge (we had a lot of time to talk whilst walking!) but for now we await the arrival of Turtle Dove and plan to enjoy the summer!

With thanks for following our journey and supporting.

Turtle Doves! What it’s all about! Photo copyright Malcolm Fairley



Dove Step – Day 1

Duration: 9 hours
Daily Distance: 28 miles / 45 km
Cumulative Distance: 28 miles / 45 km
Distance left to go: 275 miles / 443 km
Temperature: 8 – 15 Oc
Wind: 14mph
Number of bird species encountered: 74 including Crane, Water Pipit, Bearded Tit, Goosander.


Goodrick – meeting Sir Rob and getting blisters! Plus, finishing the walk – twice!

Sir Rob – seeing Cranes over Lakenheath, the false gift of having finished before realising the correct bridge was 4km further on!

Jonny – finally getting started and shedding the first 28 miles of many!

We are currently enjoying the very best of Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen and trying to best recover from the days (over) marathon efforts. The whole team are delighted to be joined by Dove Step fellow Anna.

We also couldn’t have had a better and off – with many thanks to Fee, Sven and Jane, Dawn and Bethany and the Eastern Daily Press for marking the occasion.

Here is a picture of Bethany with her supporters certificate. With thanks for starting Dove Step!



Evening all,

Just testing uploading a blog via the iPhone app.

As I type both Sir Rob and Goodrick are orienting towards Suffolk for some late night route checking and a few hours sleep before we head to the start line; Lakenheath Fen RSPB. Be sure to check out today’s reserve blog which contains a nifty Dove Step mention!

I cannot speak for the other two but I am excitedly nervous about the challange ahead. At times it seems very doable and at other times overwhelming! Any last minute jitters have, however been totally dispelled by the huge upsurge of support on both twitter and our JustGiving page today. The well wishes and ever increasing total raised has made for a pretty emotional day!

We will certainly have a spring in our (dove) step come the morning.


3 days!

It is getting wonderfully close to kick off!

Everything is in place and just a few last minute updates…

Sadly, Tris will not be joining the walking team owing to family circumstance. He will of course be sorely missed during the walk but remains an integral member of the Dove Step team. All the best to Tris and family and we look forward to many future adventures.

The Dove Step beer is currently brewing away and melding into a delicious thing under BlackBar brewer Joe’s expert guidance. Keep an eye on the BlackBar Brewery website and Twitter for announcements on which pubs will be stocking Dove Step beer next month.

Here are a few photos of the creation process, kindly shared by Joe:

Rosemary! Dove Step beer first principles! Photo © @BlackBarBrewery


Bay tree butchery! Photo © @BlackBarBrewery
Looking really good! Photo © @BlackBarBrewery


Brew my beauty, brew! Photo © @BlackBarBrewery
What colour is that? I’d say its Turtle Dove mantle ginger! Photo © @BlackBarBrewery

A massive thank you to BlackBar brewery for the continued support – it means a lot. We couldn’t be more proud of our sponsors: BlackBar Brewery, Wild Frontier Ecology and of course Bridgedale Socks.

A special mention also needs to go out to Dove Step artist and true gentleman Gyr Crakes. You can still purchase his Turtle Dove t-shirt from the Zazzle store, as modelled by these lovely ladies…

Turtle Dove t-shirts c/o @GyrCrakes
Turtle Dove t-shirts c/o @GyrCrakes

Hugely humbling and massively inspiring is the support we have received via the JustGiving page. At the time of writing, the total raised is a whopping £885! This has already surpassed our expectation and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated.

We will do you proud! We are chomping at the bit to get walking and we will cover each mile proud of the funds we’ve raised to date and any more we are able to. 300 miles for Turtle Doves – here we go!



11 days and counting…

Turtle Dove - picture c/o Barry Woodhouse
Turtle Dove – picture c/o Barry Woodhouse

With many thanks to those of you who have followed our preparation to date. I think we are ready! Where possible, we will update this blog as we walk or have a Dove Step fellow relay our progress from their internet enabled location!

Analog Dove Step advertising - cards in the visitor Centre at Lackford Lakes SWT
Analog Dove Step advertising! Cards in the visitor Centre at Lackford Lakes SWT

As I type, Dove Step sponsor BlackBar Brewery are preparing to brew the Dove Step beer which you will be able to drink at various pubs in the east of England during our walk. We may also have a limited supply at some stops of our journey!

BlackBar Brewery
BlackBar Brewery

We have a working itinerary for each day which currently looks like this:

Day 1 we follow the course of the Little Ouse before joining the Great Ouse and following it all the way to the Denver Sluice. After crossing the river we will camp at Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen. We camp in the beer garden of The Cock, on Church Road adjacent to the River Great Ouse.

Day 2 we continue along the course of the Great Ouse crossing at West Lynn to join the Peter Scott Way then stay at Gedney Drove End, where we camp in the beer garden of The Rising Sun.

Day 3 following the edge of the Wash we cross Fosdyke Bridge, then take the Macmillan Way to Frampton Marsh RSPB where we will stop overnight. We are also giving a talk here on Turtle Doves, Operation Turtle Dove, Dove Step and Tristan’s 1000 miles in memory of Martha project.

Day 4 once again on the Macmillan Way we will pass through Frieston village then Butterwick and finish up at Wainfleet all Saints.

We will camp here – let us know if you have garden or even floor space!

Day 5 we cut across to the coast and head north along the beach to stay at Mablethorpe.

We will camp here – let us know if you have garden or even floor space!

Day 6 from Mablethopre we cross Stone Bridge continuing to North Somercotes then follow the beach again to Tetney Lock and stay at Cleethorpes.

Here we stay with Mr Collett – a whole hearted thanks to Mr Collett and Collett junior of Frampton Marsh fame for your hospitality.

Day 7 we pass through Cleethorpes, then Grimsby and East Halton before camping at Skitterness.

Day 8 we cross the Humber Bridge then continue north on the Yorkshire Wolds Way to Beverley where we will stay.

Day 9 onwards ever north on the Minster Way to arrive and stay at Langtoft.

Here we stay with the Spencers – with many thanks for your hospitality!

Day 10 we once again travel the Yorkshire Wolds Way through Filey and then to our resting place Scarborough.

Day 11 onto the Cleveland Way which takes us all the way to Whitby.

Day 12 again on the Cleveland Way this time to Salttburn.

Day 13 we take the Coastal Path then the Teesdale Way to the Transporter Bridge which heralds our glorious arrival at Saltholme RSPB!

If any east coast birders are reading this from Scarborough, Whitby or Saltburn and would like us to sleep on their floor that would be great! Please get in touch via the comments section.

Otherwise, one last training walk planned for Sir Rob and myself this Saturday, Tris is continuing his 1000 miles for Martha campaign and Goodrick is running his weights vest up and down Whin Hill, in the Peak District! We are as ready as we can hope to be…

Goodrick on top of Win Hill
The view from Win Hill…
Goodrick (and weights vest) descending Win Hill

Just 11 days until we get walking!

Mighty Wales!

I have finally come to terms with what proved to be a chronically awesome weekend in North Wales and now feel able to share some of the events as they unfolded…

It was great to catch up with Dove Step team mate Goodrick having not seen him since our Peak Training… and a whole hearted thanks to Mrs Goodrick for been the hostess with the mostest throughout the weekend.

Having travelled overnight I was up early to meet Dove Step fellow Marc Hughes as well as other leading lights of North Wales birding; Henry, Mike and Robin. Marc and co. treated me to a superb day out seeing the very best of North Wales and keeping me suitably distracted from the next days Half Marathon.

Via a tour of various sites we encountered a wonderful array of species including; Black Guillemot, Eider, 5! (yes five) Surf Scoter, Dipper, Scaup, Raven, Hawfinch and Merlin.

Unforgettable awesome in unforgettable surroundings. I have certainly never seen a flock of Surf Scoter before and I am not sure many have in UK waters! It was also amazing to be in such close proximity to Hawfinch.

The view from Bangor Pier
The view from Bangor Pier
Marc, Henry and Mike surveying the landscape...
Marc, Henry and Mike surveying the landscape…
Wales is awesome!
Raven. Photo copyright Henry Cook.
Raven. Photo copyright Henry Cook.
White Hawk! A beautiful leucistic Buzzard. Photo copyright Henry Cook.
White Hawk! A beautiful leucistic Buzzard. Photo copyright Henry Cook.
Stonechat in the hand! An incredible bird to see so close. Ringed by and photograph copyright Robin Sandham.

Having soaked up the very best of North Wales birding, in such good company, I was ready to get back to digs and commence celebrating Goodrick’s 30th birthday! Of course mindful that we had 13.2 miles to run in the morning!

We were early up the next day despite the nights festivities. All got focused for the half marathon. Undertaking our various pre-run rituals and heading down to the Menai Suspension Bridge, start point for the half marathon, in good time for the 9am start.

Goodrick and I looked absolutely resplendent in our RSPB vests and I was proud to be running sporting the RSPB logo and in training for Dove Step. The Daily Post had mentioned Dove Step in their ‘Runners ready to raise money for good causes‘ news piece. So I was sure to keep my head up, keep and good pace and run with pride in case anyone recognised me! With many thanks to Ben, with whom I ran the first 4 miles. It made for excellent pace setting and a solid start to the run.

The route was superbly scenic and the weather added extra drama – with drizzle and strong winds whipping up as we passed Beaumaris Castle, on the return leg along the sea front the wind was pushing the tide so hard it was ankle deep on the path and waves cascaded at head height! Exciting stuff.

Having kept strong pace throughout I felt moved to finish with a sprint (well a slight increase in speed – I am no Usain Bolt!). Goodrick finished strong in 02:01:28 and I crossed the line a few minutes later in 02:04:09.

Home »

With the RPSB logo on our vests and the Dove Step mention on the Daily Post article I was incredibly proud to have made the distance, without stopping and to look reasonably composed for the finish line photo!IMG_9900

With the remainder of Sunday to recuperate and fine weather forecast on the Monday we made the most of our North Wales location and got some miles in our legs around Llyn Padarn in the shadow of Snowdon. Beautiful!

50% of the Dove Step team, training walk Llyn Padarn. Photo copyright Mrs Goodrick.

At the same time Goodrick and myself were shedding miles on Anglesey our team mate Tris was doing the same around Haweswater! Read about that over on Tris’s blog.

All great training and heartening as we are just 23 days away from the start of Dove Step!

A whole hearted thanks to everyone that made every minute of the Welsh trip so enjoyable. In no particular order and hoping to have not forgotten anyone; Mr and Mrs Goodrick, Ben Walton, Marc Hughes (HRH The Duke of Great Orme), Henry Cook, Mike, Robin Sandham, the organisers and volunteers of The Island Race, Always Aim High Events, Blake Welton and the North Wales Daily Post, the good people of Anglesey and any other Dove Step fellows we bumped into, ran with or enjoyed an ale with! Thank you.