The End of an Epic Journey

Last week, Grace the Swan completed her 127 mile journey along the Leeds Liverpool canal, with BBC Radio Leeds presenters Adam pope and Katherine Hannah at the helm. The team were welcomed into Granary Wharf by regional news crews and hundreds of supporters. In all, the Sport Relief pedalo challenge raised over £50,000 for charity. Massive well done to the BBC team, Alison, Adam and Hannah, the Swandeliers who helped out now and then along the way, and of course, Grace herself.

Sea-worthy once more

It looks like Simon’s fibreglass skills and handiwork did the job – this morning Grace was back on the water, and thankfully staying on top of it. This second test really had to go right, but we’d learnt a few lessons from the last test launch, and things went smoothly by all accounts.

Really excited now for the real journey! You can listen to the swan test below - Test run highlights. Hear what happened during our trip up the canal yesterday for @sportrelief (mp3)

read more about the preparations for the second test on the BBC website


Susan White

Amazingly, Susan White’s name alone wasn’t the most incredible swan related aspect of meeting this lovely woman on a rainy sunday in a small wood in north Leeds.

Whilst stood at the corner of a lake watching a family of swans groom themselves with the signets slowly picking up technique from their parents, Susan briskly walks up.  At once the male swan makes the trademark hiss, which for me recoils the urban myths of people getting arms broken trying to pet swans which are protecting their young.  I notice a dog out of the corner of my eye and put one and one together, but the swan continues to approach Susan hissing and rearing its tail feathers.

“Look, just wait” says Susan with loving patience, as she unwraps a full wholemeal loaf.  By this point the Swan is a mere two foot away from me and they are big big birds, I think this myth to be true and slowly back off feeling a little uneasy that this lady seems unaware.

Susan blissfully begins feeding the Swans by hand, just like you would a dog at the table, at this point i notice Susan’s dog a comfortable 10m away up the embankment with a look like experience has taught him better.

The whole family surround her and she calmly tells us of her daily routine of feeding, how she has watched the family come together and grow.  We hear of a previous batch of signets that weren’t so lucky and what she and others have done to help raise these new ones.  I account the tameness of these birds to the local community interaction and wonder if it will have negative effect, but as Susan leaves, the Swans return to the bank and don’t return for any other passer by with bread.  I feel safe in the knowledge that Swans work on a basis of trust, building rapport and mutual respect.  Does this have anything to do with the wide multi-cultural mythology built around the Swan? Is it just the regality and beauty of the bird? Or is it that people who have the gift of fearless animal communication just don’t make good news stories?


For a while now I have been looking to purchase some swan feathers for the society of swandeliers, feather in your cap and all but it never really felt right to buy these things. I see strewn all around the are some perfect and imperfect fresh off the bird, feathers!   Score !

I aim to go back to film Susan, collect more feathers for the society and take some pictures for her and the rest of the community who have helped raise these beautiful big birds. More to come as it happens with Susan White and if there are any questions for when I meet her then please add them here or on the comments section.




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SWAN SONGS: Samuel Foxton Welles

The Open Source Swan Pedalo hosts Leeds first swan songs featuring the lyrical wisdom of Samuel Foxton Welles…

Samuel Foxton Welles’s new track is from his upcoming album based on David Lynch’s dark view of middle America in his ground breaking TV series – Twin Peaks. For more information please visit www.

video by the remarkable Dave Lynch (nice job!)