One of the Last Great British Adventures…….
Situated between the Lake District and Manchester there is a stretch of water known as the Lancaster Canal, probably not the most likely venue for a training event. But with strong winds battering the UK coastline it was our only realistic option as an open sea crossing would be considered foolish by some and outright crazy by most!
The team were looking for miles and boy we got some of them! Our challenge was to paddle continuously for 24 hours, so after consulting a few maps and engulfing several biscuits and a couple of cups of tea, a plan was formed. We would start just north of Lancaster and head south towards Preston, returning as many times as possible within the 24hr period. Also, a midday start on Saturday allowed us to plan a section of paddling through the night, with strong winds and heavy rain predicted.
Initially we got off to a great start, quickly settling into a smart routine, resting and fueling at appropriate intervals, until 3hrs in we turned a corner to find a section of the canal dammed and dug up requiring an epic portage. Although it was only a 10 metre section of closed canal, the portage required lifting all the equipment and heavy sea kayaks up a flight of steps and over a wall, and moving the kayaks by trolley via a network of roads for more than 500m.
Back on the water we quickly re-gained our rhythm and continued to eat up the miles. As darkness started to fall, it brought with it a whole new set of challenges to some as their first extended experience of paddling at night. Head torches, glow sticks and taking in enough food was a challenge in the cramp confines of the kayak cockpit, however the team were in high spirits and proceeded well with the help of our fantastic support crew. Shortly after 1am the signs of fatigue and sleep deprivation started to show through, again regular stops and our supply of food meant nobody came to any harm although we did almost fall in as I nodded off in the stern of the kayak.
As the night went on different individuals all had their moments, whilst the other team members did what all other good team members do and used jokes, music and good banter to keep us ticking along the route. By this point we had reached Preston and were on the return journey North back up the canal, and as the moon faded and the sun began to rise the team were able to tick off the points that they had passed several hours before, with a fresh day bringing new hope. With no clouds and the sun high in the sky the team closed in on Lancaster and were getting good practice at using the VHF radios, liaising with the support crew to predict our current location and our final end destination.
Finishing just after midday on Sunday the team completed their challenge having paddled continuously for 24hrs including through the night, covering a distance of 125Km. With the start of Beeline Britain rapidly approaching the team are clearly in good spirits and prime condition to take on the Lands End to John O’ Groats challenge.
We have a few training weekends left so please keep an eye on our blogs, social media (Facebook & Twitter) and videos in the run up to Beeline. If you haven’t already done so, please donate what you can for a fantastic cause. Text LINE59 and the amount to 70070 or go to www.justgiving.com/beelinebritain
Blog post by Adam Harmer