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Written by
FionaOutdoors
FionaOutdoors

Golden Eagle Award for Sustrans founder

If you are a cyclist you will, of course, know about the National Cycle Network and Sustrans. Cyclists of all kinds – and in particular cycle tourers – happily ride these quiet or traffic-free routes, which are spread across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Indeed, many of Macs Adventure cycle tours in the UK and based on NCN routes, such as the Sea to Sea and Scotland's Lochs & Glens. But do you know who founded Sustrans and who is the inspiration of the NCN? It’s John Grimshaw CBE, who is credited as having “done more for the cause of environmental sustainability than anyone else in the UK”. Now this great man has been awarded the 2014 Golden Eagle Award by the Outdoor Writers & Photographers Guild. And rightly so! Under John’s leadership, Sustrans became the UK’s foremost sustainable transport charity. John’s focus was on practical, cost-effective projects to enable people to travel by bike, foot or public transport, unhindered by traffic. Inextricably intertwined with the story of Sustrans, the creation and development of the National Cycle Network is undoubtedly John’s greatest achievement.

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John Grimshaw and Sustrans

  John led Sustrans for three decades. During that time the charity created more than 10,000 miles of the National Cycle Network, facilitating 232 million safer cycling and walking journeys for millions of people. Today, the network he envisioned and inspired is 14,500 miles long. Some 75 per cent of us live within two miles of an NCN route. In June 2008, as John stepped down as Sustrans chief executive, he was made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours “for services to the development of the National Cycle Network”. Top this day, as John Grimshaw & Associates, he continues to help and inspire local authorities, universities, cycling groups, national parks, walking organisations, and others to negotiate and create inspiring traffic-free, sustainable walking and cycling routes, often enhanced by works of outdoor art. Current projects include:
  • The reconstruction of the River Avon Towpath from Bristol to Hanham (including a new bridge over the river to Keysham),
  • A crossing of the River Axe via the Brean Cross Sluices to connect to Weston-super-Mare
  • Working with the Upper Tweed Railway Paths group to extend the trail network west of Peebles.
In 2007, in presenting John with an honorary Master of Science degree at the University of Bristol, Professor Vala Ragnasdottir said: “It is not an exaggeration to state that he has done more for the cause of environmental sustainability than anyone else in the UK, if not further afield.”

The Golden Eagle Award

John Grimshaw high res The OWPG’s Golden Eagle is awarded annually to a person deemed to have “rendered distinguished or meritorious service to the outdoors”. Previous recipients have included ecologist Dr Adam Watson, environmentalist Marion Shoard, author Bill Bryson OBE, mountaineer Sir Christian Bonington CBE and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough CBE. The external panel of judges said: “John Grimshaw is a living legend. In this day and age, anyone who has had such an impact on getting our society up off the sofa and taking part in more healthy exercise is a hero. “Sustrans has become a potent force in British life and is very impressive but the legacy that has inspired very many similar projects has been groundbreaking and inspirational.” Why not honour John this week, or the coming months, by changing your travel with Sustrans?
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