One of the Last Great British Adventures…….
LJMU outdoor education lecturer and renowned kayaker Adam Harmer talks about his highlights from Beeline Britain.
For many Outdoor Enthusiasts and Educationalists, Gordonstoun School and the name Kurt Hahn means a huge amount. Kurt Hahn was the founder of the School (which has a very strong ethos and reputation for amazing levels of Outdoor Education) and also the Outward Bound Movement, so to be fed, watered and treated to a special welcome was fantastic. The school is something special and the Outdoor Education department with the help of Mr Haydock, even joined us for the first 2 miles of our journey from Lossiemouth towards John O’Groats.
Setting off from the School boat shed at Hopeman, we headed North across the Moray Firth with a predicted time of somewhere in the region of 10-14 hours. The usual saga of what to wear and how much food was had, but we soon settled into a rhythm for our final sea kayak crossing of this epic adventure.
Probably less demanding than previous paddles as the tides were a lot less significant and the swell size was reduced as the wind was coming over land instead of an exposed sea. Still the crossing demanded respect. We made some good use of the wind before that died away but what was really cool was the ability to see land throughout the whole crossing. Within about four hours we could see our final destination as well as the huge Beatrice Oil Platfom and wind farm.
Crossings are a case of taking each hour as it comes, maintaining food and water and hoping to not fall in whilst having a pee at sea. We were shortly nearing the shore at Lybster, and the usual faces were gathered on the harbour wall. On touching dry land this overwhelming relief came over me as realised the sea kayak stages of Beeline Britain were firmly behind us. This was something huge for me, as for 3 years the pressures of getting the weather and tides correct, not having any boat failure or anyone with fatigue or injuries could finally be put to bed. We had arrived and in my eyes I was tasting glory.
The following day we still had to complete the final stage, a 50km cycle to John O’Groats. This was a great day with super smooth tarmac, we were even convinced it was done on purpose as so many people complete the classic LEJOG by cycle. We were happy though in the knowledge that our journey was different and a ‘world first’.
The reception at John O’Groats was staggering, the cheers and buzz was just fantastic, there were tears of joy as we realised our dream had come true, and dreams don’t come much better than that. We had finished the trip a week early, been blessed with fantastic weather periods for the majority and had it topped off with a private call from HRH Prince Harry. I’ll leave you to imagine how many drinks were drunk that night!!
I have a say a huge thank you to all our immediate and as well as extended supporters plus also the sponsors, without your help and support this trip would never have been possible.