Lessons from slow travel: one Greenhouse colleague’s fundraising long-distance cycle from London to Istanbul

Lessons from slow travel: one Greenhouse colleague’s fundraising long-distance cycle from London to Istanbul

At Greenhouse, as part of our dedicated mission to deliver social and environmental impact, we’re firm believers in slow travel – even offering our employees a ‘slow travel’ holiday benefit of additional annual leave for taking the train, not a plane. And, of course, we love some active transport; walking, cycling, kayaking – any way of really participating in the journey. 

None more so than our consultant David Mason, who is currently on summer sabbatical, long-distance cycling 4,000km from London to Istanbul. David is undertaking the beautiful but gruelling journey to raise £4,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society, which supports people living with dementia. He’s already halfway to Istanbul and more than halfway to his fundraising goal, to which you can contribute here. Check back for regular updates from David on his travels, and read on to find out what endurance cycling for over six weeks is like… 

Lessons from slow travel: one Greenhouse colleague’s fundraising long-distance cycle from London to Istanbul

How long does it take to cycle from London to Istanbul?

“How long does it take to cycle from London to Istanbul? Well, if you’re 61, reasonably fit and want to enjoy the journey, I reckon about six and a half weeks. After 15 days of riding, with 1,500km under my belt, I’m currently in Austria and, if all goes to plan, I expect to reach the Bosporus at the far end of Europe on 9 October. I also hope to have raised £4,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society, around a pound for every kilometre. 

“I fell in love with multi-day cycling six years ago when I did the Ride Across Britain, a fully supported ride from Land’s End, Britain’s southernmost point, to John O’Groats, the most northerly point of the mainland. I loved travelling slowly across my country, experiencing it in a way you never can in a car, feeling the hills and descents, the wind, the sun and the rain, watching the landscape change, coming across unexpected moments of beauty, like Sunday clouds hanging in a Devon valley as the church bells ring.” 

Lessons from slow travel: one Greenhouse colleague’s fundraising long-distance cycle from London to Istanbul

Combining a slow travel sabbatical with fundraising 

“So, I decided after I turned 60, I’d take a sabbatical and ride to Istanbul, this time unsupported and alone for much of the way. I’m revisiting many places that I discovered in my twenties, but I’m not hitchhiking, and I can afford to stay in better hotels and eat in better restaurants. From Calais I’ve travelled through the great medieval cloth towns of Belgium, visited Charlemagne’s chapel in Aachen, followed the Rhine past ruined castles, visited lovely medieval towns and villages along Germany’s ‘Romantic Road’, and now I’m following the Danube to Vienna. My route takes me on through Bratislava, Budapest, Timisoara and Sofia to Istanbul. 

“Not so long ago, I thought of 60 as quite old. Now, approaching retirement age, I want to prove to myself and others that I can do this, and I want to inspire people of a similar age to take on big challenges. I’m also raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society because I know that soon, one way or another, all of us will encounter dementia, if not as sufferers, then as carers or friends to sufferers. I’ve seen how my own parents coped with cognitive impairment, and this ride is partly in their memory. 

“If you’d like to know more my fundraising page is updated daily with my route and pictures. Any support you can give will be welcome and will help me keep turning the pedals.” 

To follow David’s journey and to contribute, please visit: justgiving.com/fundraising/davidmasonicc 

Read more team travels in Lessons from Antarctica: the frozen continent on the frontline of the climate crisis and Meet the Greenhouse Team for more behind-the-scenes insight