Botanist saddles up in bid to save dale's rare flora
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
RENOWNED botanist Margaret Bradshaw’s attempt at an epic fundraising pony trek at age 95 has been described as a “benchmark” for horse-riders everywhere.
Dr Bradshaw set off on an 88km ride to highlight declining numbers of rare upper dale plants on Friday.
More than £1,700 had already been raised before she even mounted 29-year-old pony Sigma for the journey which is to be completed in stages during ten weeks.
The botanist, who uses a pony to access Cronkley Fell and other isolated areas to monitor the decline in flowers, is a skilled equestrian and was often seen on her horse Freeman before he died a few years ago.
She said: “Freeman died one Monday morning – he was 32 when he died which is a great age for a thoroughbred. I’ve been riding a horse called Percy, but he bucked me off because he had a bad back, which I didn’t know. I’ve lost trust in Percy and now I am riding Trisha’s (Snaith) horse Sigma.”
Ms Snaith, a fellow ecologist, is joining Dr Bradshaw on her journey, which on Friday went from Eggleston’s Moorcock Inn across to Romaldkirk and Cotherstone, – the area which forms the border of an area that is due to be survey to determine the extent of the floral decline.
Cash raised will not only pay for the survey, but will also cover the cost of trials to protect rare flowers such as the iconic blue gentian.
They were joined on the first leg by Lezley Aldrich, of Barnard castle and Teesdale Riding Club.
She said described Dr Bradshaw’s fundraising attempt as “brilliant”.
She added: “It is the benchmark for us all. Age is a state of mind and if Margaret can do it her age, we all can.”
People can support the ride by visiting justgiving.com /campaign/teesdalespecial flora and follow the progress on Facebook by searching for Dr ME Bradshaw’s Teesdale Special Flora Research and Conservation Trust.