Glasgow has a long and interesting history. The traditional name Glasgu translates to Dear Green Place. Humans have lived in this location since pre-historic times. It was the seat of the Kingdom of Strathclyde between the 9th and 11th centuries and eventually grew into one of the most important trading posts in the British Empire.
Throughout the 20th century our city was renowned for shipbuilding and heavy industry and today we are a rich and diverse, multi-cultural city where arts, music and culture thrive in our bustling city centre and, on (rare) summer days you’ll find us Glaswegians making the most out of our beautiful and plentiful green spaces and parks.
Glasgow has a history of social deprivation and income inequality, our city is home to some of the most affluent and some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Scotland and it’s where the Purple Heart Network will begin to deliver a programme of community action designed to help our dear green place become, greener, cleaner, healthier and happier.
The Duke of Wellington Statue on Queen Street guards our Gallery of Modern Art. He is never without his traffic cone hat. It’s often been removed but his head never stays cold for long as its replaced almost immediately.
Bruce and Susanne caught the ferry at Newcastle. Newcastle is situated in the North East of England and shares many of the same characteristics as Glasgow – a history of shipbuilding and industry, which sadly declined throughout the last half of the 20th century. Today Newcastle is home to a vibrant city centre but, like Glasgow, also has pockets of deprivation and inequality.
Bruce and Susanne's ferry took them to Amsterdam in Holland. Amsterdam was built on the River Amstel, starting life as a small fishing village. The village grew to be one of the most important ports in the Netherlands. Today Amsterdam is the most populous city in Holland. The city is a huge tourist destination and leads the way in many eco friendly innovations, like solar bike paths.
Belgium is essentially a country of medium-size and small cities, many with long histories. In the central parts of these cities, rows of terraced houses are built among a network of ancient churches and marketplaces. Opulent buildings often feature a Belfry in the central marketplace, or, as in Brussels, a city hall and corporation houses.
The pair cycled through Belgium to reach Paris, the biggest city in France. Paris started life in the 3rd century BC and became one of the most important cities in Europe, a key trade route and home to one of the continents first Universities, the University of Paris.
Paris was a key destination for us as it hosts the biggest and, potentially, most important climate change conference, COP21.
This is where the first leg ended and the 2nd leg will start again in late August 2016.
Southern Germany will be the next country where Bruce and Susanne will be guests at Eurobike which is the biggest bike expo in the world, where they'll be talking about the expedition and the reason why they're doing it.
Bruce will be in the Alps during the late summer/early autumn but it will still be arduous climbing at altitude, where steep mountain passes lead to open pastures and hopefully a few friendly goats.
Bruce will then be travelling though Italy to Venice, which will complete the European legs of the expedition.
Venice is a series of small islands linked by canals, it has been home to people since the 10th century BC. The buildings of Venice are built upon wooden stilts and many have survived centuries of submersion in the canal waters. Each year the city becomes flooded as a high tide sweeps across the city.
Doges Palace in Venice was the inspiration for Templeton Carpet Factory at Glasgow Green. Many designs for the Carpet Factory were submitted and rejected by Glasgow City Council, until, the architect William Leiper, so annoyed at the constant rejections submitted plans that he thought were very outrageous. The plans, based upon Doges Palace, were accepted and so Glasgow became home to, what must be, the world’s most beautiful carpet factory!
Bruce and Susanne will be landing in Alexandria to begin the third and final leg. Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great, around 330BC. It's a major port opening up trade routes between Europe and Africa.
From Alexandria they head to the Egyptian capital, Cairo, where the team plans to take their bikes to the pyramids. Cairo is a key destination for us: over 10 million people live and work around the Nile Delta area. If sea levels continue to rise the flooding of the Nile could become less predictable, more extreme and create real issues for the people who make their homes and their living there.
Heading across Egypt, Bruce and Susanne will make their way to Khartoum in Sudan. Average temperatures in Sudan have been on the rise for the last 30 years, and the impacts of the changing climate and diminishing rainfall centre around food production. Farmers in rural areas rely upon rainfall to water their crops, and those in Sudan’s cities rely on these crops for food. If climate change goes unchecked it's clear to see the disastrous consequences that could befall the country and its population.
Ethiopia is one of only two nations in the world never to have been occupied. Ever heard Rastafarians talking about Haile Selassie? He was an Ethiopian Emperor, born in 1892 and is worshipped by followers of the Rastafarian movement and who's not to be confused with legendary distance runner Haile Gebre Selassie. The oldest fossil skeleton of a human was discovered in Ethiopia.
After Ethiopia, the pair will reach the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda. The Rwenzori are home to some fast diminishing glaciers. The environment on Rwenzori creates a rich and diverse habitat for flora and fauna to thrive. Unfortunately it is feared that within 20 years the glaciers will be no more, creating real problems for the area, the habitat and the people who live and work around the region.
Kenya is located in East Africa, on the equator. In 2012, the population of Kenya was estimated to be around 43 million. Kenya shares Lake Victoria, the world's second largest fresh water lake, with Tanzania and Uganda. Kenya features many national parks and wildlife reserves, with safaris being a popular activity for visitors. Large animals such as lions, buffalo, leopards, elephants and rhinoceros are present in Kenya.
Although we are still in the planning stages, Bruce and Susanne have just received permission to climb Kilimanjaro (over 19300ft). There have been more people on the moon than bikes on Kilimanjaro.
The science of climate change on Mount Kilimanjaro is complicated, the glaciers on the mountain are over 11,000 years old, and unfortunately they are slowly evaporating. The rate of glacier shrinkage has doubled in the last 40 years and it's estimated they will be completely gone in 2 decades, something that will cause a dramatic change in the climate of East Africa.
Secondly, the lower plains of Mount Kilimanjaro are suffering the impacts of deforestation and although this hasn't been found to have had an impact on the glaciers, it is worrying for the population who rely on the slopes for food.
The Malawians’ first European contact was with the Portuguese. They traded ivory, iron – and slaves. It was the Portuguese introduced maize to the region. Today, maize is still the staple grain of Malawi. Lake Malawi was once called “The Lake of the Stars” by the famed Scottish explorer David Livingstone, because lantern lights he saw from the fishermen’s boats resembled the stars at night. The earliest human settlements in Malawi date back to 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. They were bushmen people, whose rock paintings can still be seen outside the capital of Lilongwe.
Mozambique is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east and Tanzania to the north, South Africa to the south west and Zimbabwe to the west. It gained its independence from the Portuguese in the year 1975. The Vumba Rock Paintings are thought to be around 8,000 years old. They depict hunters and other human figures and animals. Some of the richest coral reefs are in Mozambique. There are over 1,200 species of fish that have been identified in the coastal waters of Mozambique
Zimbabwe is home to Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world. The Falls are under threat from climate change. The water level of the Zizi River, the source of the falls, is receding and this could result in less spectacular flows of water. The impacts of the receding water levels will be felt by aquatic and land life, humans and habitats. Additionally the region draws significant income from tourism, with no falls there may be no tourists and this could impact on the livelihoods of those who work and live in the region.
Nearly 40% of the land is national parks and wildlife reserve, providing large areas for animals to roam. Botswana is a haven for endangered species of mammal and bird such as cheetah, brown hyena, Kori bustard, and Pel’s fishing owl. The Okavango Delta is known as the jewel in the Kalahari, a semi-arid sandy expanse which covers 85% of the country. Fed by annual floodwater from Okavango river, the vast delta supports a wide array of African wildlife from hippos to elephants. Huge herds of zebra and wildebeest make an annual migration to find food and water.
They’ll cycle from Gaberone into South Africa, visiting Pretoria and Johannesburg before making their way to Swaziland.
From Swaziland the duo head south to Durban, inland to Lesotho and Bloemfontein (where Bruce will visit some family and friends), continuing through into Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, making a quick stop in Villersorp where Bruce went to school!
The duo aim to arrive in Cape Town in mid-July 2017, completing the 18,000km expedition.
Cape Town was established over 400 years ago as the first European settlement in South Africa and is now one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world.