Tag Archives: Charity fundraising

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Cycle Ride

TWT Truste Barry Burles reports:

The delights of many adventures are the unintended benefits.  The thought of 84 relentless miles to North Norfolk was daunting.  My first outing recceing the 20 miles of the route to Ely resulted in me peddling through the flood waters alongside the River Cam with frozen and wet feet.  However, it forced me to find an alternative that resulted in us taking National Cycle Route 11 to Ely through Wicken Fen.  The benefits were great because Route 11 was on mostly hard cycle path surfaces suitable for the road bikes.  And it took us across some fabulous open Fen wetlands with great bird watching, wild-looking highland cattle and rare breads of horse.  The natural distractions and frequent punctures during our training rides meant that we missed many trains back from Ely, where we invariably stopped for a scrumptious poached egg and hollandaise sauce breakfast, doubling whatever calories that we might have burnt.

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The next 20 miles was a straight sprint along 10 Mile Bank to Downham Market after which we were noticeably in the Brecklands navigating our way down rutted and puddly farm tracks and through numerous hamlets with extraordinary names such as Totenhill, Wormegay and Blackborough.  This was a long haul through the 55 mile stage when energy simply ran out and the banter stopped as the determination to simply keep going switched on.

To add insult to aching muscles, we encountered our first hills.  Never has the support team been such a welcome sight with their broad grins and stupid questions asking us what took us so long? Our condition was quickly remedied by their freshly brewed coffee and tea and the wonderful consommé soup, flap jacks and scotch eggs to die for.  But our cause to complete the distance was more pressing.  After warming up in the Paddling Duck pub, we slowly recovered and were ready for the final 20 miles that went surprisingly easily as we all seemed to find our second wind.

It was not long before we were in front of another pub crossing a river (picture above) where cars can no longer go.  Refusing to be distracted, we peddled on along the pilgrim route through the Walsinghams, cycling past black caped churchmen walking towards us along the Holy Mile to the slipper chapel.  Knowing that Langham was now close, the hills to Binham and then on up to Langham were easily managed.

We arrived to the welcoming cheers of wives and girlfriends. We knew from the church clock chiming four that we were just in time to watch England beating Wales that added to our glee.  A few beers, a great rugby match and delicious dinner and wine all provided a delightful end to a happy day.

A bunch of men playing hard together engenders the best of camaraderie. The highlight of the adventure was the good spirits that everyone brought with them and kept sharing throughout.

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We have since organised a second bike ride along the same route with a riders from the Cambidge Rugby Club. Together we have raised just short of  £7,000 for The Waterberg Trust which was a rewarding effort in itself. Many thanks to all our sponsors.

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Riding through Jembisa on Day 6 of the TWT Challenge Ride

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As the weather was relatively cool, Anthony Baber decided to ride north up to the Jembisa wetlands in the morning.

Map of Jembisa

This entailed a bit of hard exercise as we walked up a stony hill past an old Iron Age fort.

Walking uphill on Jembisa

It was worth it to reach a view point that enabled us to look down over the Palala River Valley and the way we’d come.

Sophie Neville

We saw wildebeest, zebra, impala and blesbok along with interesting birds

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and returned to the lodge where Tess Baber and Kelly of Save the Wwaterberg Rhino Trust joined us for lunch outside.

Lunch on Jembisa

That afternoon we rode fast alongside the airfield on Jembisa and along winding tracks through seringa woodland in the low evening light.

Galloping

We saw red heartebeest on our way to a view point where the staff of Jembisa had champagne waiting for us to celebrate the fact that riders had covered more than 175kms.

TWT team after 175kms

Mark, Pippa and Chris

We rode the last 5kms back under dark skies and bid farewell to our gallant horses who were trucked home, two by two.

Campfire

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Riding through Lapalala Wilderness

Ginny and Anne

We mounted our horses bright and early on Day 4 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride

Following Ant

and set off into Kwalata game reserve with a map drawn on a piece of cardboard. As we rode into Lapalala Wilderness Ant warned us that if a black rhino charged and we found ourselves on the ground we should either get behind a tree or roll onto our back and kick it in self-defense.

Riding through Lapala Wilderness

We were venturing into truly wild remote country with diverse challenges that included walking the horses down a rocky track for a couple of kilometers passing middens that marked the black rhino territory.  The dung itself had quite an attractive smell.

Walk in the Wilderness

We were probably making too much noise to get close to wildlife but saw giraffe wildebeest, impala and a terrapin.

Lapala Wilderness

After nearly five hours in the saddle we were hugely relieved and deeply grateful to find lunch being cooked for us by the Palala River, along with chairs and a table.

Lunch by the hippo pool

Lunch by the Palala River

The intrepid went off in search of hippo. We had been told there were also crocodile around.

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hippo

We found the horses had been saddled up and rode on through Lapalala,

Amanda

beyond the airstrip where the horses were to spend the night.

TWT Riders 2016 team photo

Here we found a black rhino in one of the game bomas and felt rather glad that he was safely behind a sturdy fence.

Black rhino

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Riding North to Kwalata Game Reserve

We had a bit of a problem on the third morning of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride. Some of the horses spurned their comfortable camp and tried to run home in the night. Luckily they were not able to get far but it meant we set off later than intended at 9.45am. Once in the saddle we were able to canter for miles along sandy roads over the top of the Waterberg Plateau and made up the time.

Cantering to Kwalata

We needed to cover a fair distance but it was cool and the going good.

Cantering

The third day is typically the most tiring for members of the team and we managed to break two stirrup leathers which slowed us down. We would have battled if the sun had been out.

Road to Kwalata

We are actually riding down a government road here – a very beautiful one.

TWT team 2016

Thankfully we made it to the gates of Kwalata private game reserve just as it began to rain at 1.30pm and were able to reach the lodge for a late lunch. Everyone was tired but grateful for a cool drink and a plate of lasagne, while the horses enjoyed fresh grass and a good feed.

Lunch at Kwalata

The rain cleared and we had time for a swim that afternoon before mounting up again.

Belinda at Kwalata

We rode through the reserve for about 11kms, passing warthog and a few impala.

Belinda Fordy on Kwalata

Our horses spent the night in a boma originally built for elephant. This gelding didn’t seem to think much of the way they’d left the bathroom.

Horse inspecting elephant bathroom

The riders were able to relax back at the lodge where there was a much nicer bathtub

Kwalata bath tub

and very good food, cooked outside on the fire. The sponsored ride was led by Ant Baber in aid of Save The Waterberg Rhino and associated community projects in the Waterberg. If you’d like to make a donation we have a Justgiving.com  page here.

Kwalata

If you would like to keep in touch, The Waterberg Trust have a Facebook page here.

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Wildlife spotted on The Waterberg Challenge Ride 2016

Buffalo by Anne Lester

Anne Lester, who came on The Waterberg Challenge Ride in South Africa this March, has just sent in some of the photographs she took of wildlife encountered on horseback.

Giraffe by Anne Lester

We rode close to giraffe, and were able to watch a group of eleven browsing.

Livingstone eland by Anne Lester

This is a breeding herd of rare Livingstone eland, the largest antelope species found in South Africa. We also spotted waterbuck, kudu, nyala, grey duiker, sable, roan, blessbok, oryx, red heartebeest and numerous herds of impala.

Riding with rhino by Anne Lester

You can see how close we were able to get to animals on Ant’s Nest game reserve, a sanctuary for white rhino. Poaching in South Africa has become such a threat that these rhinoceros have had their horns impregnated with poison so they have no market value.

Rhino cow by Anne Lester

The rhinos are accompanied by armed guards 24 hours a day. This is expensive but meant that the animals are well habituated to horses and we managed to get very close.

Baby Rhino by Anne Lester

The good news is that the rhino are breeding well and are in good condition. This calf was born two months ago after a two-year birthing interval.

Riding up to a rhino calf by Anne Lester

We are currently fund-raising for Save The Waterberg Rhino who are striving to protect this special area as well as organising community projects so that local children can learn about the importance of nature conservation and ecology. If you can help, please go to The Waterberg Trust Justgiving.com page here. We have a Facebook page here.

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Riding through Ant’s Nest in the Waterberg

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On the second day of The Waterberg Trust Challenge  Ride 2016 we mounted our horses and rode through Ant’s Nest game reserve up to Ant’s Hill in two groups consisting of 8 or 9 riders each: the tortoises and the hares.

Ant Baber showing us the ropes

Those going on the fast ride, led my Ant Baber, found themselves cantering alongside a herd of giraffe, which was exhilarating and covered more than 11 kms in about 3 hours.

Riding up to Ant's Hill

The tortoises rode more sedately, coming across zebra, warthog and rare antelope such a herd of Livingstone eland as well as a lone sable bull:

Sable at Ant's Hill

We rode on, encountering impala, blesbok and more zebra before reaching a dam. The hares arrived hot on our tails having spent time watching the behaviour of a herd of buffalo.

Dam on ant's Hill

Some of the riders were able to take their horses in to cool off during the heat of the day.

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After being treated to a delicious lunch of homemade sausages cooked out in the bush

Bush breakfast at Ant's Hill

we had coffee at Ant’s Hill where we received a talk about the Waterberg Biosphere.

Ant's Hill

As we rode out that afternoon, we saw more game including a family group of bat-earred foxes. This was very special as the guides had only seen them once before on the reserve.

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We spotted quite a few wildebeeste along with their calves who, at a few moths old, almost look like a different species:

Wildebeeste calf

It was the group of tortoise riders, going at some speed, who made it to the north of the reserve first, clocking up 26.3kms and reaching the top of the escarpment, 4,500 feet above sea-level. As the horses found hay-nets waiting for them in the paddocks of an old Transvaal farm, the riders returned in a game-viewing vehicle for one last comfortable night at Ant’s Nest and packed their bags for the next two days on the move.

Tsede riding on Ant's Nest

If you would like to find out more, The Waterberg Trust have a Facebook page here. Riders are raising sponsorship for community projects in the Waterberg on Justgiving.com here

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Report on the second Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2016

Sophie Neville and wildebeeste

The dream of riding through the game reserves of South Africa became a reality for twelve British riders this March when they took up the challenge of raising £1,000 each for Save The Waterberg Rhino and local community projects.

Zebra by Sophie Neville

The team was made up of experienced riders

uphill

and, being led by Ant Baber,

Ant Baber

the pace was fast whenever the terrain allowed.

Cantering

The idea was to traverse 175kms  of remote country

Walking uphill

while taking the opportunity to learn about rhino conservation

Sophie Neville watching rhino

and discover more about the Waterberg. For further detail and more photos of this ride, please see subsequent posts.Photographing giraffe

If you would like to get involved or find out more The Waterberg Trust have a Facebook page here. Riders are raising sponsorship on Justgiving.com here

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