My Paddle of Britain has been inspired by so many different things. People are undoubtedly top of that list. The incredible feats and achievements of others who’ve come before is a limitless source of inspiration. From Tony Hawks, the man who literally walked around Ireland with a fridge, to my own great friends in the military who’ve endured and completed exhausting personal challenges of their own. Any story in which someone has smashed their own limits to pieces, especially for a charitable cause, has inspired me to do something equally challenging.
I’ve always wanted to take on a unique endurance challenge, but I’d never managed to decide what it’d be, or more importantly, why I’d even do it. But with this year marking the landmark 100th anniversary of WW1, and being ex-military myself, I’ve finally found a worthy cause to champion that’s got me laser-focused and super-motivated. With no surviving veterans left from the ‘war to end all wars’, I feel it’s more important than ever to remember those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom of future generations. My challenge is but a small token of my appreciation for their sacrifice.
The Paddle of Britain
From the beginning, I knew it made sense to base the challenge around something I’m good at. I kayak regularly and absolutely love it, so I made the decision early on that the challenge would have to involve me kayaking a massive distance. I wanted to do it quickly, too – impossibly quick! From this, the original plan was to kayak solo from the top of Scotland to the bottom, which is roughly 450 miles, so it wouldn’t have been a bad effort. However, I discovered it had been done many times before, so I just had to go beyond that. My darling wife, Caroline, soon planted the seed for the master plan when she said to me:
“I think you should do the whole lot, all the way down!”
I knew almost immediately that this was it. That’s when we upgraded from the Paddle of Scotland to the Paddle of Britain. Another 450 miles to bring me up to a monstrous 900 miles of kayaking! And only 60 days to do it. In case you’re wondering, that’s a solid 15 miles a day.
I’ll be in the water for as much of this as possible, but as there isn’t one continuous river linking the top of Scotland to the bottom of England I’ll hike in between all the rivers, canals etc I’ll be kayaking through. I’ll need to pack a tonne of specialist kit for the journey; a tent, solar chargers, first aid equipment, repair gear, the list goes on. Everything will be stored in my kayak when I’m in the water; when I’m on land, I’ll be pulling the kayak and all my gear by wearing a custom harness attached to a handy set of wheels!
From start to finish, I’m going to be as self-sufficient as physically possible. I’ll camp, eat and sleep in the wild and stop only 4 times at pre-selected locations to resupply and repair any kit that needs attention. Pushing off from Skerray Bay and finishing in Littlehampton, the Paddle of Britain is going to be one of the most difficult challenges I’ve ever had to face. And I cannot wait.
Ultimately, I’m doing this to remember WW1 soldiers and to raise as much money as possible for The Royal British Legion, a charity I value dearly as I know first-hand the life-changing impact they have on veterans of more recent conflicts. They have thrown their full support behind me, and I’m proud to be doing the Paddle of Britain to help them continue to make a difference. Check out the Royal British Legion section on my website to read about the amazing projects donations will be going towards.
I also want to make my family proud and inspire and motivate others like I’ve been motivated myself. If me doing this encourages just one more person to embark upon their own challenge for an equally-great cause, I’ll be chuffed to bits.
As a sub-goal, I’d also like to raise as much awareness as possible around plastic pollution in our waters. I’ve no doubt that I’m going to come across a staggering amount of plastic waste along the way and will be sure to share that with you all.