SPUC Scotland would like to extend a huge thank you to all those who sponsored and supported Stephen Shaw as he undertook the 5-day long trek along the Speyside Way to raise money for the Society and awareness of its aims and campaigns.
Stephen of Banff, who is the Chairman of SPUC Scotland, undertook the walk for the work of SPUC north and south of the border and chose the month of May to coincide with the UK abortion statistics reaching an estimated 8 million for the whole of the UK since the Abortion Act came into force in 1968.
Stephen explained: “Published Government figures record a total of 208,553 abortions during 2011 (or 4011 per week), and a cumulative total of 7,714,613 up to 31 December 2011. If the same number of abortions were performed during 2012, the total at 31 December 2012 would have been 7,923,166. This is 76,834 short of 8 million, so that total would be reached about 19 weeks into 2013 (mid May). It is unlikely that any change in the number of abortions performed since the end of 2011 would shift this date by more than a week or two.
“I wanted to mark this milestone by undertaking a sponsored walk from Buckie on the Moray Firth Coast to Aviemore along the Speyside Way to raise funds for the Society’s educational and campaigning work and to highlight the facts that:
- Abortions are currently taking place at the rate of 208,000 per year across the UK
- Only about 50 abortions per year are performed because of a risk to the life of the mother. This represents 0.025% of the total, or 1 in 4,000.
- 1 baby is aborted for every 4 who are born.
- An abortion takes place every 3 minutes.
(Sources listed below*)
“The Speyside Way is a Long Distance Route of 65 miles from Buckie on the Moray Firth Coast along the coast to Spey Bay and then along the River Spey to Aviemore,” Stephen added.
Stephen’s Speyside Walk diary
Monday 20 May ’13
” I set off along the Moray Firth coast. For the first couple of miles, the route runs beside the sea. It then goes a short distance inland to follow the route of a former railway for about a mile before joining forest paths and eventually meet the road just outside Spey Bay.
“On this first section, I met Christian and Torben from Lübeck who walked the West Highland Way last year in sunshine and temperatures of 28oC, and have returned to Scotland to walk the Speyside Way this year. We walked together for the rest of the day.
“From Spey Bay to Fochabers, the Way runs alongside farmland and then passes through woodland with sections actually on the river bank. Just north of Fochabers there were 3 anglers in the river fishing for salmon. After passing under the bridge which carries the A96 over the Spey, the Way reaches Fochabers for the end of the first day’s walk.”
Tuesday 21 May ’13
“Today, I was joined by Sheila, a member of the SPUC Banff & Buchan branch from Huntly. We set off from Fochabers along the road to Boat O’Brig where the Aberdeen to Inverness Railway and the B9103 from Keith to Rothes cross the Spey on adjacent bridges.
“Beyond Boat O’Brig, the Way climbs alongside farmland and provides lovely views of the valley in both directions. It then enters the Ben Aigan Forest adjacent to the Speyside Gun Club. The Red Flag was flying to warn us that firing was taking place, although we heard the gunfire long before we saw the flag! The signs recommended that we did not stray from the marked path. We obediently complied.
“The climbing takes place in the first 2 or 3 miles of this section and leads onto a forest road with a picnic bench, where we stopped for our lunch. We met a couple from Stirling and they showed an interest in the sponsored walk and kindly made a donation to our funds. By and large, the remaining 5 or 6 miles to Craigellachie were a gentle downhill walk on a forest road and then a minor road.
“The last 2 miles of the day’s walk, from Craigellachie to Aberlour, followed the route of the former railway along the side of the river.
“I would like to thank Sheila for accompanying me on this, which is one of the two more strenuous sections of the Speyside Way, and for her efforts in securing sponsorship in her parish.”
Wednesday 22 May ’13
Stephen and his wife Barbara setting out from Aberlour
“Aberlour was my starting point today. This was a day of changeable weather. In the morning there were several showers, all heavy, short, localised and separated by periods of sunshine. From midday the weather was generally blue skies and sunshine, apart from a short sharp hail shower which started without warning.
“This section of the Way is entirely along the route of the former railway and keeps close to the river. At Carron, 28 miles from Monday’s starting point, it crosses onto the west side of the Spey for the first time, crossing back 7 miles upstream at Ballindalloch.
“At Carron, the Way passes the old Imperial Distillery, inactive since 1998 but currently in the process of redevelopment. A couple of miles further along the river, we pass the Knockando Distillery and shortly afterwards the Tamdhu Distillery, where it appears that additional bonded stores are under construction. And that is only the distilleries which are next to the river!
“Although there is no shortage of fishing pavilions with cars parked outside them, I have not noticed anyone actually fishing since Fochabers on Monday.
“At Blacksboat, I passed the halfway point of the Speyside Way and another couple of miles took me to the end of today’s section at Ballindalloch.”
Thursday 23 May ’13
“The section today runs from Ballindalloch to Grantown. There had been snow on the Cromdale Hills overnight, but this was well above the height the Speyside Way reaches. There were some heavy hail showers during the morning. The afternoon had only a few light showers but there was still a cold wind.
“This is not the longest section of the walk but several uphill sections and boggy and muddy conditions make it the most strenuous day of the week.
“According to the BBC website, the weather for the final section tomorrow should be much better, so I hope the forecast is right.”
Friday 24 May ’13
“Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer” After Thursday, which appeared to be a stray day from February, Friday would not have been out of place in July. Suncream would have been of more use than the warm clothing and waterproofs I was carrying.
” I was joined today by Anne, a work colleague for many years prior to our respective retirements, for the first two sections of today’s walk. The first section from Grantown to Nethy Bridge follows the old railway route which runs close to the Spey until the two diverge just north of Nethy Bridge.
“From Nethy Bridge, the Way passes through the Abernethy National Nature Reserve until it joins the B970 for the last half mile or so into Boat of Garten. The RSPB Loch Garten Osprey Visitor Centre is only about half a mile off the route.
“For the last section from Boat of Garten to Aviemore, the route starts on the west of the Strathspey Steam Railway but then passes under the railway to the east side. There are fine views of the Cairngorms whose upper slopes are still covered with snow. On the outskirts of Aviemore, the route passes back under the railway and finishes with a walk alongside the main road into the centre of the village.”
Number of Abortions in England and Wales
Department of Health: Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2011, (May 2012)
Published to DH website, in electronic PDF format only. http://www.dh.gov.uk/Publicationsandstatistics/Statistics/index.htm
Number of Abortions in Scotland
Information on abortions carried out in Scotland can be found at: http://www.isdscotland.org/isd/1918.html.
Ratio of Abortions to Live Births
See Excel file “mat_aas-table2” (2011 version) for the Scottish Figures. The latest figure is 212.8 abortions per 1,000 live births for Scotland as a whole. The Figure for the Grampian Health Board Area is slightly lower at 211.0.
ONS reports 723,913 live births in England and Wales in 2011, giving a rate of 270.9 (271.2 in 2010) abortions per 1,000 live births, which is well over 1:4. (Actually 1 per 3.69)