95-year-old botanist takes on horseback trek for Teesdale's rare plants

A 95-year-old renowned botanist is taking on a horseback challenge to raise awareness and funds to protect Teesdale's plants.

Dr Margaret Bradshaw MBE is taking on an 88 km trek, which represents the boundary distance of the River Tees catchment area, where many of the rarest species are found.

The Trek for Teesdale Flora begins today (2 July).

Margaret will be riding Sigma, a 29 year old horse, that has been loaned by her friend and local ecologist Tricia Snaith, who will accompany her for the challenge.

Far from 'horsing around' Dr Margaret Bradshaw and Tricia Snaith are trying to protect the plants of Upper Teesdale. Credit: Teesdale Special Flora Research & Conservation Trust

Upper Teesdale is one of the top five botanical sites in the British Isles.

In 2017, conscious that several of the rare species were declining, Margaret founded the Upper Teesdale Special Flora Research and Conservation Trust. This became a charity in early 2020.

Spring Gentian is one of the rare plant species the Trust is trying to protect. Credit: Martin Rogers

The Trust was established to conduct botanical surveys, raise awareness of the dale’s unique assemblage of plants and trial methods of protecting the plants’ future.

Dr Bradshaw says "every penny raised" will go towards protecting the area's heritage.

Bird's-eye Primrose is another bloomin' lovely flower that can be found in Upper Teesdale. Credit: Martin Rogers

Margaret hopes others will join her by undertaking their own 88 km challenges on foot, bike or horse-back.