Adventure duo explore the Tay inspiring active travel for all

The fastest woman to cycle the globe came to visit Aberfeldy last week, inspiring school pupils to consider ways to get active, particularly girls.

World champion athlete Jenny Graham – who holds the world record for best female time cycling round the world – was welcomed to the Highland Perthshire town by children from Breadalbane Academy, local wild swimmers and canoeists.

Jenny is promoting active travel, using adventure to inspire more people to be everyday active.

She is undertaking the ‘From Source to Sea’ mission with Lee Craigie, the active nation commissioner for Scotland and director of the Adventure Syndicate.

Beginning on Monday, September 6 from Glasgow Queen Street Station, the team travelled to Crianlarich on ScotRail’s new bike-friendly Explorer Carriage in search of the source of the Tay in the Grampian hills.

Covering an average of 30km a day, over the following days their excursion by bike and boat took them through Perthshire, exploring the length of the river, to finish at Dundee.

Perfect day to explore the River Tay
Perfect day to explore the River Tay, day 2 of the Source to Sea adventure

The project, promoting “the personal, social and environmental benefits we all stand to gain if we choose to travel even the occasional short distance by foot or wheel,” saw them cover the length of the River Tay without stepping into a car.

Their hope was to educate school children along the way.

On Tuesday last week they enjoyed a rapturous welcome to Aberfeldy, home of Breadalbane Academy and a community currently attempting to be ‘Scotland’s Healthiest Town’.

Knowing Jenny and Lee were coming to visit, school children and individuals had been encouraged to match their active miles in their everyday journeys to work or school.

Pupils from Breadalbane Academy recorded their self-propelled journeys to school all last week and uploaded them to a live interactive map via The Adventure Syndicate’s app.

For part of the trip the duo followed the River Tay from Kenmore, putting their bikes onto a specially-designed pack raft which brought them to the bank below Wade’s Bridge and the Black Watch Memorial in Aberfeldy.

Jenny Graham, 'Fastest woman to cycle round the world' with Lee Craigie, UK champion who has represented GB, arrive by canoe at Aberfeldy
Jenny Graham, ‘Fastest woman to cycle round the world’ with Lee Craigie, UK champion who has represented GB, arrive by canoe at Aberfeldy

Sabina Laurie (10) was in a kayak with Jenny and another Breadalbane pupil – aptly named Tay Will – travelled in the boat from Kenmore with Lee.

Arriving in the town soon after school finished, there were other boats in the water to meet Jenny and Lee as Breadalbane Canoe Club paddled over to say hello.

Blessed with September sunshine, the Breadalbane Academy Parent Council (BAPC) unfurled a welcome banner and offered to refuel the travellers with treats from their impromptu bake stall.

Lee said: “We can all get very hung up on ‘doing the right thing’ when it comes to our health and averting our climate crisis, but we hope our Source to Sea adventures turn these motivations on their head.

“First and foremost, walking, cycling or wheeling short journeys instead of being stuck in a car should make us feel better physically and emotionally as well as connecting us to other people and to nature.

“This should be the motivating factor to moving our bodies more, not shame or guilt.

“By focusing on the joy and fun to be found on the journeys from our doorsteps to school or work, we hope to bring people along with us on our journey to a more sustainable future.”

BAPC chair Eleanor Laurie said: “It was so wonderful to see so many stand on the river bank to welcome two world champion athletes and a Guinness world record holder as they travel through Aberfeldy on their navigation by bicycle and kayak of the River Tay”.

Six pupils from Morrison’s Academy then joined them to sleep overnight in the open air on the banks of the River Tay.

“It was really great to meet everybody, they made it a real adventure,” commented Sabina Laurie, who is keen to get her family to think of alternative ways to get to school from her home in nearby Weem.

The challenge took them through Perth on Thursday and ended on Friday 10 at the new Dundee Active Travel Hub that is due to open officially on September 26.

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