Juneau to Whitehorse via the Chilkoot Trail
After the amazing success of the New York Spare Seat we decided to try the same approach with Scotland and offer everyday people the chance to join us for an adventure. This time we would feature the stunning paddling of the Great Glenn Canoe Trail originally known as the Caledonian Canal. Our plan was to start on the coast South of Oban and paddle the Corryvreckan Whirlpool, the Grey Dogs tide race and up to Oban before paddling up Loch Linhe to Fort William and into the Great Glenn Canoe Trail.
I still look back at this adventure and smile a beaming grin thinking of it. From a single phone call to pitch the Spare Seat kayak idea to New York State to winning an international travel marketing award valued at a $1 million PR campaign. The journey of 510 miles saw us kayak two double kayaks from Niagara Falls to the Statue of Liberty via the Erie Canal and the Hudson River Way. Every day we were joined by random people who filled the ‘Spare Seat’. See www.thespareseat.com for the full story and daily blogs.
With a few adventures under my belt random people began to suggest different ideas for new adventures. “What about London to somewhere…?” and so London to Marrakech was born. The folly of using google maps to plan the route later became apparent as I neglected the Pyrenees mountain range as a big problem. The plan was simple. Start at Tower Bridge, paddle to Greenwich, cycle to Dover, sea kayak the channel again, accompanied by some friends. Cycle through France, over the shallow end of the Pyrenees, into Spain, down to the Med.
Driving down to Lands End proved to be something of a magical mystery tour. As with the running theme of many of our challenges it coincided with some of the worst weather on record. We arrived at Lands End and did the touristy bits, the visitor centre, Sennan Cove and other Cornish Treasures. The storms had brought massive waves with 2-3 metre breakers and surf. The locals had even moved the lifeboat to the South Coast so we were facing another difficult risk assessment.
Five members of Viking Kayak Club successfully paddled their sea kayaks across the English Channel on Saturday in a bid to help raise money for charity as part of their Big 5 Kayak Challenge.
The conditions did not look good on the morning with force four north easterly winds and a forecast that it would get stronger, but the team had two support boats accompanying them and decided to go for it.
6 members of the Big 5 Kayak Team paddled some of the worst winter conditions that the UK has seen for many decades to paddle 184 miles from Cricklade in Wiltshire to near the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, near Dartford. The team ages ranged from 14 year old Aaron Buckingham, already a potential slalom star of the future and Div 1 K1 paddler to 56 year old Geoff Tilford, a former GB sprint paddler.
Well about 85 miles of paddling later and we had made it. From a rough idea some 6 weeks before we had a well organised expedition in place and on the water. There was a pretty big sense of achievement from the whole team, for each of us representing something special and different. Throughout the past 6 weeks I have had a sense of something much bigger, the Isle of Wight was the baby of the bunch, just playing really. Also for me personally the paddling is only to be a small part of the whole effort.