At the beginning of May in 2015 I embarked on an ambitious sea kayak journey around Scotland with the aim of visiting each of the forty seven** R.N.L.I. lifeboat stations. I set off from Kippford in the south on the Solway Firth and 2960km (1850 miles) later and after four months, I arrived in Eyemouth on the south east coast of Scotland. I managed to successfully visit each of the lifeboat stations including those in the Outer Hebrides and the northern isles of Orkney and Shetland.
It was an incredible journey for me. Every day was rich with wonderful experiences - so many that it is difficult to begin to describe them. Where could I possibly begin? Could it be kayaking around the notorious Mull of Kintyre in the gloaming of the early dawn at 4am? Or enjoying the company of a frisky seal when it climbed onto the deck of my kayak? Possibly crossing the Minch between Skye and the Outer Hebrides? Rounding Cape Wrath - a definite highlight? The Shetland coastline? The Aberdeenshire coastline? Without doubt I would recount to you my myriad encounters with wildlife, the sights and sounds of seething seabird colonies, the rugged beauty of the Scottish coast, the solitude, the many wonderful people I met and of course the indefatigable and generous Lifeboat crews who hosted me. I would also wax lyrical about the experience of sea kayaking on my own. Making decisions. Planning each day. Anxiousness and fear, replaced with exultation and elation. The joy of solitude and the pain of loneliness. Above all, the warming sense of personal achievement at the end of each successful day on the water. It was for me the journey of a lifetime - my rite of passage into my fiftieth decade.
The purpose of the journey was to raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute and I managed to raise just over £5000.
The image right shows the actual track of my journey, courtesy of Yellowbrick Tracking..
** Forty seven lifeboat stations at the time - St Abbs is no longer an RNLI lifeboat station.
I was generously sponsored and supported by the following businesses and people. I am eternally grateful for their support.
My Nigel Dennis designed Explorer sea kayak was sponsored by Sea Kayaking Scotland.
Kokatat in the UK sponsored my kayaking top, kayaking trousers, buoyancy aid and a storm cag.
YB Tracking loaned my Yellowbrick satellite tracking device with free tracking for the duration of my journey.
Celtic Paddles gave me a set of four-piece carbon paddles and a pair splits.
Art and Sea provided the graphics for my kayak.
Gael 8 gave me clothing.
Sea Kayak Oban gave me invaluable support with purchases and facilitating sponsorship.