I am very excited to announce Paddle Against Plastic’s 2018 expedition: Stand-up paddleboarding from Lands End to John O’Groats. This is a challenge I have been planning and building up to for the last few years, something that excites me and also scares me.
The on-land version of Lands End to John O’Groats is a popular challenge with cyclists and hikers, spanning the length of Great Britain from South to North. It has never yet been attempted on SUP. It will be an extreme challenge, incorporating paddling along sections of coast facing in all directions – East, West, North and South. Travelling on a stand up paddleboard, I will be very vulnerable to the many tidal races around countless headlands, and an entire coastline exposed to strong winds and swell. The challenge will finish up in Scotland – famous for its big waves and wind, suddenly changeable weather and man-eating midges.
The expedition will be approximately 1000 miles (1600km), starting at Lands End in Cornwall, the very South of England, to John O’Groats in the very North of Scotland, thus spanning the entire length of Great Britain. The route will be mostly ocean paddling, with some paddling across canals, for example the Caledonian canal which will be my route from West to East Scotland.
I plan to paddle this route unsupported.
This means I will not have boat cover when on the water. I am inviting competent paddle boarders to join me for sections, but most of the challenge will be completed solo. I will be carrying all of my kit with me and stopping off at beaches each night to camp.
This expedition is not for my personal gain, and although it will be an extremely testing challenge, the adventure will serve as a vehicle for the following messages:
I wish to highlight that in the UK we are never far away from plastic pollution affecting our coastline and oceans and the creatures that call them home.
Despite the severity and ubiquity of plastic pollution, we can all be a big part of the solution. There is a growing movement of individuals, charities, businesses and communities who care deeply enough about this problem to be making small changes, which collaboratively is making waves and putting pressure on governments and companies to follow suit. I hope once again to bring some positivity and solutions to the plastic pollution crisis, and to grow the number of voices demanding that we stop using so much unnecessary plastic in the first place.
By incorporating some canal and estuary paddling as well, I hope to strengthen the connection between plastic pollution in land and that in the ocean, documenting its potential to head out to sea via inland waterways.
I hope to encourage a reconnection to our outdoor spaces.
We are blessed with some incredible coastline in the UK. A desire to protect our environment comes from a love of that environment, and a reconnection to how special it is both to our physical and mental wellbeing. The oceans also sustain our life on Earth with the oxygen they produce, and we simply cannot afford to be destroying them at the rate we are. Our lives and choices on Earth are so intrinsically linked to the natural world, and I hope to remove the disconnect between these.
80% of marine litter originates from land-based sources. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. We need to stop this now, and we can all play a part in doing so.
We are not only disconnected from nature, but from ourselves. Time in nature can be so healing and important, and I hope to encourage people to explore this. I hope that developing this understanding can lead to a real desire to protect what we love.
I will have a live tracker so you can follow my progress, and I hope to have people join me at beaches along the way for mini beach cleans, to talk about how we can all be part of the solution to the problem, and for chips and ice cream!
I will aim to use no single use plastic on the expedition. This is going to be a challenge in itself! I’m looking forward to keeping you posted on how this goes!
The paddle is in memory and in honour of my closest friend, and biggest fan, who at the end of last year lost her battle with depression.
I will be raising funds for Vetlife – a charity very close to my dear friend’s heart, which supports Veterinary staff when they need it most. Vets in the UK are 3-4 times more likely to commit suicide than any other profession; I want people to know that there is somewhere to turn, and would like to help support this charity that is a lifeline to so many. Thank you in advance for any donations you feel able to make, and thank you to Vetlife for every single person you have helped, some of whom may not still be here today without you. Thank you.
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