The Climate Caravan – Heathrow to Kingsnorth by foot, flipper, bicycle, pirate ship...

IssueSeptember 2008
Feature by Patrick Nicholson

There was always a sense that the third incarnation of the Climate Camp had to push the boundaries of what we, and the authorities, thought possible and avoid “another year, another camp” mentality. People have always walked for change – Gandhi’s salt march, the Jarrow crusade, the Aldermaston marches… and so the idea emerged of a Climate Caravan, a physical movement of people connecting together the history and geography of popular resistance and environmental protest.

It all began on 26 June with a lively conference near Heathrow of local people and aviation campaigners. Caravaners assembled: a lifesize polar bear puppet, a pedal-powered pirate ship, a team of cooks on bikes, a flock of penguins, tricycles packed with smiling children, a team of traffic stewards, a tea-bike, the Bicycology soundsystem; all-in-all about fifty souls set to traverse East across the metropolis to Kingsnorth.

In Putney, around 200 attended our modern version of the Putney debates of 1647, hearing a range of proposals for radical action to halt climate chaos. In Lambeth we discussed Transition Towns and screened pedal-powered movies. Our penguins waddled over London Bridge to seek out those responsible for destroying the planet for profit. In the City, we spelt out corporate crimes in pennies on their doorsteps. At Oxleas Woods, we heard inspiring tales from ’90’s road protests veterans. In Rochester on 3 August, we joined with the Campaign Against Climate Change, the Brighton Caravan, and the London bike ride for the final leg to Kingsnorth power station, finally entering the Climate Camp to the most incredible welcome you could imagine.

There you have it: sixty miles in seven days through the heart of London, up to a hundred people safely reclaiming the roads from the cars, taking the Climate Camp’s messages to the streets, with no arrests, no injuries, a dozen public events, scores of media interviews, and thousands of conversations with people along the way.