Blog of my upcoming attempt to circumnavigate Ireland by kayak.
infoThis is the blog of my solo circumnavigation of Mainland Britain by Kayak 2012. To read chronologically, hit the book below...
Here’s the link to a podcast I recently recorded with Simon Willis from SeaKayakPodcasts.com
Simon was truly a pleasure to chat with and it’s a great honour to have a podcast in the archive alongside some of those who continue to inspire me.
It’s time I brought some finality to my round Britain blog. No in depth reflection I’m afraid, because the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write, then I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to tag long essays onto the end of my previous posts. I will be giving a talk about my trip at the Sea Kayaking Cornwall symposium this October and maybe, one day there will be a book, but right now round Britain feels like the first chapter.
Life on dry land was a shock at first and there was a real loss of focus for a few weeks. I had concentrated so hard on my goal for so long then suddenly that wasn’t there anymore. I felt restless and aimless and longed to be back out there. There are some really exciting irons in the fire now in terms of sponsorship, work and expeditions so I have finally broken out of the post exped apathy.
The scratty beard has now been removed and I’ve been enjoying catching up on all the other circunavigators’ efforts. Given the weather, its been an astounding completion rate!
All that remains is to say thanks again to everyone who backed me up along the way, I will eventually get in touch with you all…
Storms through the night battered Maker Junction, my last stop. It was a quirky and cool backpackers. Simon and Lauren were very accommodating of my wet, smelly kit and even hooked me up with delicious free apple crumble. This after Jess had worked another culinary miracle and served steak (medium rare), polenta (carb fest) and salad (crucial). It was like my last meal as I came to terms with giving up expedition life.
Anyway, the wind battered the building and tore down a marquee. It was still cranking through at 4am in the morning and as such I stood down. 40nm just didnt seem feasible so I wrote it off and got up at 8.
Now aiming to just chip off miles and make the hypothetical day 68 easier, I made moves to be away by 9.30.
On my way down to the beach I spoke to Jeff Allen who assured me that last nights weather was the gales that had been forecasted for the day. They’d arrived early which meant a relatively tame, even pleasant day. The opportunity was there to cut the corners, paddle fast and make it home on day 67. So that’s what I did. For 6 hours I didnt miss a stroke and drew on every reserve to make time up. Took my last pitstop at Gorran Haven where the sun broke through and made for a poignant final launch on a stunning Cornish beach.
3 and a half more hours through familiar waters and I made my approach to Swanpool. Greeted by family and friends I popped a bottle and just enjoyed the moment.
Thanks for turning out guys.
Just some really important thankyou’s to get down. I’ll write up a bit of a reflection/breakdown and there are ton of pictures on the way.
Thanks to Jeff Allen and Simon Osborne of Sea Kayaking Cornwall without whom this would not have happened. Both have been paddling heroes of mine for many years, so to have them on board has been invaluable. I approached Jeff this time last year with the idea, hoping to get some advice and, as they say, the rest is history.
Thanks to Rockpool for building the incredible Taran. What a boat! Thanks to H20 Audio for hooking me up and keeping my tunes and podcasts dry. Thanks Cunningham Covers for the awesome tarp. Isle of Man Steam Packet for being totally flexible.
Thanks to Jes Oughton. If I could have done it without him, which I’m not sure I could, then it would have been nowhere near as quick or enjoyable. For the daily debriefs, the several stints of land support and for the coaching before and during…thanks.
Also to Jess, my girlfriend who has been so tolerant of this 2 year obsession. For understanding what it was all really about and helping me realise my dream.
Thanks to my Mum. For being totally behind this and putting up with the worry of me being out there, often out of touch. I’ve never had to look far for lessons in hard work and sacrifice.
To all the coaches and paddlers who over the years have taught and inspired me, my leading lights, a piece of this is for you.
Thanks to all the strangers who became friends. My towers of refuge. In my times of need you guys picked me up, fed me, put me up or were just someone to speak to. You guys were very much part of the journey for me.
Finally thanks to everyone who donated to the cause, who commented and got in touch or simply had me in their thoughts. It meant a lot to me and although I paddled solo, I never felt alone. Thank you.
Hit Swanpool at 8pm. Lovely welcome party. Ive paddled round Britain!!
Just a quick one I’m afraid. 40 plus miles done today and now the finish line is in range.
Coastline magnificent today, back in amongst grand Devonian slate and granite cliffs. Cheeky visit from a porpoise and other than that, just mileage.
Didnt get in till 9pm, knackered but very excited to be back in Cornwall and finishing tomorrow. Forecasted winds tomorrow up to force 7 north westerly at times. With any luck I’ll find shelter close in…
I’ll put up a quick post when I get in. Planned ETA is 6-8pm at Swanpool. Anyone who wants to come and stand in the rain is more than welcome.
Well that went well. The weather was perfect, the sea following and when I listened closely, I could hear the Taran singing as it cut through wave chains.
Very early start just to make double sure of avoiding a night paddle. The weather was sunny from the off as I set out at 255 degrees into an empty horizon.
2.5 hours in I looked left and maybe half a mile seaward, from nowhere a whale leapt clear of the water. It was an orca! Fully gobsmacked and slightly anxious of having a run in with a killer whale I just kept paddling.
I made a good routine of 5 minute breaks every hour and used the time to feed, drink, rest and send tweets. All the essentials.
GPS checks every other hour confirmed that I was making great progress on the turned tide and confirmed my good line into Berry Head. Soon enough shadows of Devon came into sight.
Hit land around 1830 and was met at Brixham by friend of the blog, Nigel. He’s offered up his motorhome for the night what a guy!
I’ve placed myself nicely for 2 long days into Fal. The weather may yet come back into play as there is some silliness forecast for saturday however…one day at a time.
Today required strategy. In navigational terms a gate is a place and time when/where the tide turns and becomes difficult or impassable. At it’s peak today, the tide at Portland Bill ran 6+ knots and would start running against at 1600, are you still reading? Portland Bill lay 28NM away so I had to make 28 miles by 4pm to get through…
I was paddling by 7am and forgot all about the targets as I wove around Old Harry and surrounding stacks, caves and awesome rock formations. I very much enjoyed the return of some of the wildlife I haven’t seen since Yorkshire. Shearwater, gannets, puffins, razorbills, the usual suspects.
I hit Anvil point at 1045, ahead of schedule and wasted no time heading out into the mist at 260 degrees. 4 hours and 16nm later I
was at Portland, relieved to have avoided any traffic.
The gate was just closing, I bounced along on some turbulent water but on rounding the mighty lighthouse, had to fight my way along to a good landing round the corner.
I declined an evening session working into Lyme Bay and have instead chosen to cross direct to Brixham tomorrow. Is that far? Yeah kind of, check out the map.
Jess has joined the team this evening and keeps her dad company tomorrow while I toil across the bay. Tomorrows post may only be a one worder!