This July and August four of us are riding our bikes naked across the UK. Why? Because it will be fun, and because we want to spread the rewilding message, as we think rewilding is possibly the most important thing for us to do right now to prepare ourselves for the challenges of climate change.
Colin and Sadie will be cycling north to south (John O'Groats to Lands End). Hannah and Neil are cycling the other direction and we'll cross somewhere in the middle before continuing to our destinations! 2 x naked end to end bike rides 😁
What is rewilding?
The basis of rewilding is that nature can look after itself. With a helping hand we can establish vital ecosystem processes like predation, grazing, regeneration and decomposition. This means large-scale restoration of ecosystems to the point where nature is allowed to take care of itself. Rewilding seeks to reinstate natural processes and, where appropriate, missing species – allowing them to shape the landscape and the habitats within. It’s focused firmly on the future although we can learn from the past.
Rewilding encourages a balance between people and the rest of nature so that we thrive together. It can provide opportunities for communities to diversify and create nature-based economies; for living systems to provide the ecological functions on which we all depend; and for people to reconnect with wild nature.
This will help us to reconnect with nature and create opportunities for new nature based economies. Nature is part of us and we are part of it. We can't live without it and living in nature is essential for our health and wellbeing.
Well, if you're reading this it is most likely because of the attention that this challenge will get. If we just do the ride in cycling gear, no one will notice our message. But also, we all enjoy living naked in our day to day lives and we know the whole trip is going to be great. We are going to visit rewilding farms and projects along the route and stop for parties wherever we can. This is a celebration of our future and of body freedom.
What is body freedom?
Naturism, body freedom, body positivity all have been shown to have mental health benefits. We grow up in a world that expects us to be ashamed of our bodies as though there is something so bad, so hideous that there are few things more humiliating than being seen naked. This is reinforced by images that sexualise nudity and tell us that without a magazine perfect body, we have something to hide and be ashamed of. We are breaking free of that. Non sexual nudity should be celebrated and seen as normal and healthy!
Who are we?
Well, if you join us for a section of the ride then you are a Free Wilder 😁 clothed or unclothed, whatever you feel most comfortable with.
Colin is a woodworker and rustic joiner who can make roundhouses with reciprocal roofs and the like. He lives on a canal boat and is a wild food forager, teaching people how to forage wild edible mushrooms during the autumn mushroom season. If you want to know more, look at his page Forest Horizons and the group he admins Mushroom Spotters UK.
Sadie is a student of Environmental Biology. Also a wild food forager and very knowledgeable plant ID person, For her naturism is how she combats social anxieties. 😊
Neil works for large banks and insurers so knows all about the stresses of the city! He spends as much of his free time as possible in or on the UK's mountains, rivers and caves. He has spent hundreds of nights camping in some of the remote corners of our planet - nature and naturism is his way of reconnecting and destressing.
Hannah is a classical pianist and music teach. She grew up in an environment relaxed about nudity, and although she is clothed more often than the rest of the group, she still enjoys the odd walk, bike ride or swim clothes free.
What about the chafing? 😂
Ocean rowing is one of the sports that has the most problems with chafing. To overcome this, rowers often sit bare bottomed on sheepskin. So Owen Barry sheepskin and leather workers have generously offered to make us saddle covers. We are *hoping* that this will help! We will let you know! We are also being sponsored by the fantastically named Happy Bottom Bum Butter ointment for cyclists. Again.. Let's hope it does the trick!
What is the law on nudity in public?
Being clothes free in public has never been illegal. However, historically naturists have sometimes been charged with things like "outraging public decency", though there have been no successful prosecutions of naturists for several years.
Prosecutions were previously attempted because it was assumed that simple nudity was immoral or damaging. This assumption is slowly changing. The interpretation of the law has changed in recent years - simply put we're a more tolerant and accepting society, and there are bigger things to worry about than a harmless naked body.
Nudity, whether in public or private, only becomes potentially illegal if your actions are sexual or someone was caused genuine alarm (and it could be proved that alarm was reasonable).
Simply being clothes free isn't illegal and the police and CPS give examples of going for a walk in the countryside, or a bike ride, as acceptable nudity. So what does this mean in practice? If a flasher jumps out in front of someone waving their bits, that is obviously intended to cause offence and is rightly illegal. Going for a walk or bike ride or a wild swim naked isn't.
See the diagram below for the police guidelines for dealing with reports of nudity.