In May last year environmental campaigner Zoe Bicat and her mule Falco set off from Oxford to begin an epic walk that would take them to Loch Lomond and back to raise money for the movement to criminalise ecocide that was founded in Stroud.
On Friday, after 800 miles, they walked the leg from Epney to Stroud, stopping off in Haresfield, Edge and Painswick, where they were met by Jojo Mehta, Executive Director of Stop Ecocide International, founded by the late Polly Higgins.
“It’s been amazing, just an incredible way of seeing the UK, seeing the country that I live in but I don’t really know that well. I think this has really helped me to get to properly know it in a kind of really physical way,” said Zoe, who visited schools along the route to talk to students about their connection with the environment.
She has a target of £10,000 to raise for Stop Ecocide International, a Stroud based campaign that is behind the movement to make ecocide a crime – acts that will cause severe or long-term damage to the environment.
Zoe and Falco spent the harshest months of winter in Scotland and resumed the walk in April, so what has been the most memorable part so far?
“Coming down from Scotland, heading out of the really cold Scottish weather through the dense forestry and then slowly making our way [south] with the seasons turning and summer coming, arriving at the Yorkshire Dales. It was like walking into Hobbiton or Narnia just as a summer began, with the feeling of the gentleness of the land there.”
Zoe and Falco have covered 800 of the 1,000-mile walk and were greeted by friends and supporters in Painswick on Friday.
“We just think it’s a beautiful way Zoe’s chosen to bring attention to what we’re doing in terms of trying to bring in legal protection for the Earth by making mass damage and destruction a crime,” said Jojo.
“It’s a wonderful awareness raiser that connects the grassroots with the high-level side of what we’re doing, because the core of this is a diplomatic and legal project but it’s going to affect everybody.
“It’s going to be protecting the most vital ecosystems of the Earth for all of us into the future, so having this connection with an Earth-based, grassroots action like the one that Zoe’s taken is just really extraordinary. It’s been a beautiful story to tell.”
Zoe has owned eight-year-old Falco since 2019 – how has he fared on the journey?
“He’s coped extraordinarily well. He’s always loved exploring ever since I first met him and I could see that he just wanted to be part of the action,” she said.
“He’s really curious and really tolerant of different textures underfoot, and things like getting stuck in branches, and that’s the reason I really wanted to get him.
“I’ve bought him hoof boots for his front feet to protect against really stony tracks, particularly up in Scotland on the forest tracks. He’s been really astounding in traffic – we could have an ambulance going past at speed with the siren blaring and he’s okay, or the huge forestry logging trucks driving past in Scotland and he doesn’t really mind – I’m very lucky in that way.”
Zoe and Falco’s final 200 miles of the journey will take one more month and see them ending at the starting point in Oxford.