A 73-YEAR-OLD Scots cyclist is set to travel more than 3000 miles across the United States of America to raise money for conservation body, the National Trust for Scotland.

George Russell, who is originally from Scotland and is now based in Colorado, will begin the journey in San Diego before riding through New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

The septuagenarian will ride solo, while wife Mary will drive along as a support vehicle for the first half of what is expected to be a 50-day trip depending on weather conditions.

Russell aims to raise £100,000 for NTS, the body which owns and manages about 130 historic properties and 180,000 acres of land in Scotland.

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The organisation has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and expects to keep several sites, including Bannockburn, closed until 2022. Earlier this year it said it would put 429 members of its permanent workforce at risk of redundancy, as the body faces a £28 million loss in 2020.

The NTS is running a major fundraising campaign to help its recovery from the crisis.

Russell has strong ties to the NTS. His grandfather was the organisation’s first secretary and treasurer, while his father worked for the NTS for many years. The 73-year-old also served on the trust’s council at one point.

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NTS head of fundraising Ali Macleod said the charity is “overwhelmed” by the support from Russell.

Russell said: “The trust cares for a quite staggering collections of Scotland’s treasures, but it urgently needs colossal sums to guarantee its survival. It is as serious as that. It is vital that somehow as much as possible of its lost income is replaced as matter of urgency.

“That can only be done by the support of donors worldwide and that is why I am getting on my bike, to pedal to protect Scotland’s heritage.”  

Russell will begin his journey on August 27.