Round Britain 2008 - 2012
You can listen to Rowland talking about his circumnavigation of Britain:
The Last Leg – 2012
Well, despite another dodgy run of weather, and some other distractions, the journey is over. Our start from Portland Bill was delayed by a storm which decided to double back on itself – right over where we wanted to be. Nonetheless, we revisited the Bill before turning west and heading along Chesil Beach to pastures new. Over the ensuing 40 days (we lost 16 to various reasons, mainly adverse weather) we discovered the scenery of the far south west, ate an enormous range of pasties and pastries, and met an incredible number of people who supported, helped and entertained us – just because we were there.
Highlights of the trip included steep shingle launches and landings, fossil hunting at Lyme Bay, the Lizard and Lands End, and being reunited with Cath Tanner both at Plymouth and at the end in Ilfracombe. We escaped big surf until the last 2 days in Cornwall – and then met it in spades! The day we rounded Hartland Point and ended in Clovelly was ‘rather trying’ (at least that’s what I think Wendy was trying to convey!), but the welcome and hospitality was fantastic and well worth the effort. The last day, across Bideford Bay, past Baggy Point and round Morte Point presented a few challenges, but eventually, at 7-30 in the evening, we made it into Ilfracombe to an emotional welcome followed by a celebratory meal in a local restaurant. The venison and red wine was excellent!
My thanks to Barry and Wendy – really good company on any expedition! Thanks also to Lucy of Pole Position, who has kept me ‘on track’ (in more senses than one!) throughout this 4 year odyssey.
This year’s total was 311 nautical miles, bringing my grand total around mainland Great Britain to 2118 nautical miles. It has taken me 224 expedition days, of which 130 were paddling days. I am the 19th person to complete the circumnavigation, and the first to do so using a Greenland paddle.
Click to enlarge images. Once the image is enlarged, click on the right side to view the next image and the left side to view the previous image.
‘The Last Quarter - 2011’ – actually ‘The Seventh Eighth’!
As you can see from the account below, the attempt to circumnavigate Britain in 2008 ended ‘a little early...’ That was hopefully to be rectified this year, but… In mid-May, Barry Bramley and I set off from Aldeburgh with the intention of paddling the south east corner, the south coast and south west corner, ending in Ilfracombe sometime in June or early July. What we could not have foreseen was a stretch of weather in which we lost 12 days from 31, and a straight 19 days in a row in which we got gale warnings for our area(s). It truly was a ‘different’ May and early June. If anyone knows what it is that I have done to so annoy the weather gods, I would welcome enlightenment!
However, we paddled the Suffolk, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Hampshire coasts and much of the Dorset coast before being ground to a stop on the Isle of Portland by Force 6 westerlies and a very unpleasant sea state to the west of Portland and along Chesil Beach. At this stage we were forecast to be stuck for the next 5 of the 12 days left to us, so we accordingly called a halt. We covered 283 nautical miles of the coast, past some interesting (and sometimes not so interesting!) areas, in conditions that often left much to be desired. We had a number of adventures – what is it about MOD ranges? – and we had only one day on which we paddled with the wind behind us. (We’re sure that ‘variable’ in forecast terms really means ‘headwind’!) I would like to thank Barry for his help and company – I’m certain that had he known what was to happen, he would never have left Oban!
On a personal note, I have now paddled 1810 nautical miles of the coastline of Britain, leaving 300 more to go. Having survived this year, Barry is now actively planning and preparing to be part of 2012’s ‘Round 3 – The South West’!
Once again, many thanks go to those who helped and supported us – Jason Buxton at Valley Sea Kayaks, Sara Wagner at BlackLight Paddles, Jen Kleck of Aqua Adventures for the ongoing loan of the SPoT locator, Christine Miller at Lulworth (who took pity on 2 bedraggled paddlers badly in need of somewhere to camp!) and, of course, Lucy at Pole Position in Oban, who continues to be a part of the whole epic adventure. Thank you all.
As before, if our journey has enthused you, please support the RNLI with a donation, however small.
Gallery of Images 2011
Our Journey 2008
In April 2008, Cath Tanner and I attempted to circumnavigate the mainland of Great Britain in sea kayaks. It turned out to be quite a journey in what turned out to be one of the least favourable summers in recent years! Over the first 3 months we made our way up the west coast of Britain, crossing the Bristol Channel on the second day, passing Wales, Morecambe Bay and the Solway Firth, before rounding Cape Wrath in early July. From there we passed through the Pentland Firth to Duncansby Head and then started the long journey south. Major crossings included the Firth of Tay, Firth of Forth, the Humber and the Wash. We enjoyed the full washing cycle that the floods in east Scotland and north eastern England had to offer that year! By the time we reached Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast, we had been on the go for 5 full months, but had lost no fewer than 63 days to weather. It became apparent that progress was going to be very slow at best, giving us little hope of completing the circumnavigation in 2008. (Apart from anything else, Cath had employers who were actually expecting her to return to work at some stage!). Accordingly, we ended our voyage at Aldeburgh after 5 months and 1527 nautical miles. This wasn’t quite the outcome we had planned, but it had been an adventure, nonetheless!
We would like to publicly express our thanks to the many total strangers who offered us kindness, help and support whilst we were travelling – it really was humbling to be helped so much for no reason other than that we were there – THANK YOU ALL.
Sponsors and Supporters
There are many people without whom we could not have achieved what we did – Nigel Dennis (Seakayaking UK) provided us with Explorer kayaks (mine an HV, Cath’s an LV), as well as being the inspiration for the whole journey; Kokatat were outstandingly generous with their support, giving us a full 2 piece suit and an expedition drysuit each, together with MSFit Tour buoyancy aids; Seals Skirts donated a Shocker spraydeck to each of us – probably the best decks that either of us have ever used; Jen Kleck gave us a SPOT tracker – relieving a lot of anxiety when phone contact could not be made for days on end; Julie at Mardale gave us made-to-measure salopettes and smocks, which were absolutely superb in the less-than-perfect weather we experienced!; Martin Nissen hand- crafted Rowland’s Greenland paddle (and then hand-delivered it from Denmark as well!); Dave and Toby at Knoydart, Penrith, were incredibly generous with their time and equipment, as were Dave and Wendy at Outside Edge in Oban. Last, but by no means least, Lucy at Pole Position built the website, kept the pins moving around the map, and continues to cope with the bright ideas of this paddler! Thank you all – we could not have done it without you!
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Pictures of Rowland and Cath at the boat launch
Click to enlarge images. Once the image is enlarged, click on the right side to view the next image and the left side to view the previous image. All photos by Nigel Dennis.
Gallery of Pictures from 2008's Journey
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