In the run up to my Isle of Skye expedition, I thought it was high time to reveal some clips of last year’s Cornwall expedition which demonstrates some of the tougher aspects to paddling over 10 marathons of open ocean.
It’s not often I reveal my vulnerable, wobbly, worried bits. I think we’re all guilty of protecting our outward appearance to save face! Well… I’m a normal human being with normal human emotions! I want to share this with you, not for any degree of sympathy, but hopefully to engage you in this community – this isn’t just me, this is all of us. We’re all human, we’re all in this together, and we can all look after each other and our planet.
Circumnavigating the Isle of Skye.
This July I’m going to circumnavigate the Isle of Skye on SUP – 400 miles of rugged coastline, open ocean, big bay crossings, and Scotland’s epic weather… alone. My dear friend and her dog, appropriately called Skye, are going to be running several marathons’ worth on land and meeting me every few days to camp and regain some level of sanity.
What comes to mind for you when you think of Scotland? I think of wild coastlines, soaring sea-birds, trees, waterfalls, vast beaches, highland cows and haggis. I also think of midges, rain, wind, epic tidal races and big ocean swells; all of the things you want to avoid for an enjoyable stand up paddle board session! So why then have I decided to circumnavigate the Isle of Skye, a stunning and wild island off the West coast of Scotland, on SUP this year? There’s a level of dedication – I believe in the message I’m delivering enough to risk open ocean alone to demonstrate that even these remote, untouched places are vulnerable to plastic pollution. And to help show you how we can protect these places, and all the natural spaces that mean something to us, from the threat of plastic pollution.
Paddling around the Cornish coast was really tough, a lot tougher than I had ever imagined it would be. I was very naive to the power of the ocean and mother nature, and was schooled more than once! When I found myself in a position of complete vulnerability to a force so much stronger thanme, scrabbling for the very last dregs of physical and mental strength, to propel myself away from 6 foot waves crashing onto sheer cliff faces, serious life threatening impending danger, I realised the limits of my human existence, and the limitlessness of nature. Humbled by these experiences, this next expedition I’m undertaking, alone on the water, with the utmost respect for the immense power of the ocean will be a serious physical and mental challenge. I’m worried I’ll be lonely, and that without myadventure buddy I won’t have the mental strength to push myself and paddle hard to the finish line, or worse still, out of danger. I’m scared about getting lost in sea fog, and having nobody to bounce decisions off in the water. But I’m also excited for the mental challenge, and to use the time on the water as an exercise in mindfulness and meditation; reconnection wth nature, my body, my ability, and my mind which is stronger than I will ever admit.
I’m nervous about the conditions – the mega tidal races around the countless headlands, strong Scottish winds, the cold water and chilblains, the possibility of relentless rain, and ocean swell, and getting into trouble in the water. I have a new found respect for the sea after the Cornwall expedition. But I’m also excited to put all I learnt about reading conditions, understanding my limits, and making decisions based on the winds, tides and weather systems into practice.
I’m worried about getting horribly sore, stiff and injured, and not having anyone to massage my aching muscles. Waking up during the night in agony, with cramp, lower back pain and burning biceps. I’m worried about setting up camp by myself and making a fire (which I am renowned for being pretty pants at!) But I’m looking forward to nights alone under the stars, without another soul about, and pushing my body to its limits.
I’m nervous about not being able to communicate with my dear friend on land, Zoe, and her worrying about where I am and whether or not sheshould call the coastguard. And I’m so excited for the nights we do meet up, exchange stories and huddle around a campfire with a tin of beans or whatever goodies we’ve managed to get hold of.
Which leads me onto my fear of getting hungry or running out of water! I eat pretty much constantly when I’m paddling, but I’m going to have to ration myself!
I am so excited for this trip, but am under no illusion that it’s going to be easy. I am stubborn, determined and full of belief in one’s mental capability overcoming physical instability. I’m ready to combine the beauty of the Isle of Skye backdrop with the horrific addition of plastic pollution, and to empower us all to make positive change in our lives. And seriously, if you haven’t yet stand up paddled, or visited the ocean recently, or done a mini beach clean, or believed in your ability beyond that of what your mind is telling you, now is your time 😉
Join The Resistance. Protect What You Love. Refuse Single Use. Paddle Against Plastic.