Student cycles from Halifax to Heidelberg to start year abroad

Pedalling Oxford university German and philosophy student rasing money for charity on the way

by Simon_MacMichael   July 26, 2011  

Heidelberg picture Christian Bienia Wikimedia Commons.jpg

Usually, students embarking on a year abroad at a European university would look for a cheap flight to get to their destination, or perhaps let the train – or a reluctant parent co-opted as driver – take the strain. One student at the University of Oxford, however, is cycling the 620 miles to Germany where he is spending the forthcoming academic year, and what’s more he plans to raise money for charity along the way.

James Houghton, aged 20 from Halifax, left home last Thursday bound for Heidelberg, where he will undertake a month-long language course, before heading on to Berlin, his home for the next year, the essentials for his trip – a tent, changes of clothes, and washing kit – crammed into two pannier bags, reports the Halifax Courier.

After taking the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, he is nowalong the River Rhine towards Heidelberg, expecting to reach his destination on Saturday.

“I study German and Philosophy at university and have to spend a year in Germany as part of my degree,” he explained. “I decided instead of just getting the plane I would cycle to Heidelberg.”

The student aims to raise money for the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) along the way.

“I like to do quite a lot for charity,” he revealed. “We are lucky in this country and we should be doing our best for those who aren’t as fortunate.

“The World Health Organisation says SCI is one of the most efficient charities there is. They help treat neglected tropical diseases.”

Before setting out, James saw the UK leg of the journey as presenting the greatest challenge.

“The hardest bit will be cycling on the roads and up the hills at the start towards Selby,” he said.

“I can’t wait for the ride down the Rhine though - that should be amazing - and I’m really looking forward to the moment I cross into Germany.”

James in fact crossed into Germany on Sunday, and you can follow his journey on his blog.

He plans to raise £1000 for SCI, and is already around three quarters of the way towards his target. Donations can be made here.