Completing unfinished business!
In 2015, as I'm sure you're aware, I kayaked 2960km solo around the Scottish coastline visiting every RNLI Lifeboat station. This included kayaking around mainland Orkney and mainland Shetland. However, despite writing it into my plans for this trip then, I did not kayak from mainland Scotland to the Shetland Isles and back. This was because of the prevailing weather conditions and the fact I was beginning to run out of summer time to complete the overall adventure. Instead, I used the passenger ferry from John O'Groats to cross the Pentland Firth to and from Orkney. I also travelled on the Northlink ferry to and from Orkney to Shetland.
Despite rationalising the decision to use the ferries because of the weather, the sea conditions and overall safety, I've long felt that I let myself down. I carry an unsettling disappointment that I did not kayak between the archipelagos.
My intention is to revisit these stages of my 2015 journey and fill in the gaps. My plan is an ambitious one. I intend to kayak from Tobermory to Muckle Flugga, the most northerly point of Britain, via North Rona and Sule Skerry and then back again down the east coast and through the Great Glen. On the way there and back I will spend a few days on the remote Fair Isle, exploring its incredible coastline and meeting the folks who live there.
I hope to add a visit to the outlying island of Foula, twenty two kilometres off Shetland.
This journey is a serious undertaking because of the long and committing open ocean crossings. It is however, definitely well within my ability and I'm confident about meeting the challenge. It'll be the fulfilment of a long held ambition too.
Expedition Purpose - Celebration & Raising Awareness
This is not a fundraising expedition, but it does have a serious purpose.
For much of my adult life I've lived with, and survived, severe and enduring clinical depression, consequently with numerous lengthy admissions to hospital for psychiatric care. Depression is an insidious and potentially lethal illness. Unchecked, without vital intervention and professional support, it can lead to the sufferer completing suicide - tragically taking their life. I'm fortunate to have received incredible care and support throughout my illness and it is because of this, I'm still here. Without the intervention of the health service, I firmly believe that I would not have survived as long as I have.
This then is an expedition which celebrates my life and my ability to survive my depression. It will be a statement to myself as much as anything, that there's a life worth living and I will not give up on this. It's also an expedition which I hope will raise awareness about depression and how insidious it can be, almost a hidden illness, but just as much worrisome as more visible serious health conditions. I've survived because I knew when to seek help and was confident enough to do so. My message is simple - face our depression head on. Do not hide.
I will write more about this as my plans for this adventure unfold. My intention is to collaborate with any mental health service provider who wishes to be involved in sharing my story and promoting awareness about depression and recovery.
The dates are not set, though May and June are available to me. The detailed plans are currently being formulated. This is very much a statement of intent, so please check back from time to time to see how things are developing.
If you are interested in knowing more about this journey and would like to be involved in some way, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'll be very pleased to hear from you.