In late August or early September 2017, I'll embark on my first substantial fundraising challenge since my round Scotland journey in 2015. I'll emulate the Scottish Islands Peaks Race route in my kayak and climb the mountains too. I have long considered undertaking this challenge by sea kayak since attempting the race proper in 2012. Sadly then our team had to withdraw because of slight winds and our 85 year old heavy wooden classic yacht unable to keep pace with the rest of the fleet.

I have since become directly involved with the Tobermory RNLI Lifeboat as a fundraising volunteer and also as one of their appointed Deputy Launching Authorities. The lifeboat can be called upon at any time of day or night to undertake maritime rescues of various sorts, serving anyone who ventures to sea. The service is independent of Government and is run entirely on charitable funding. Apart from the full time roles of Coxswain and Mechanic, the crew for the lifeboat are made up of dedicated volunteers from all walks of life here in Tobermory. 

There are at least twenty trained volunteer personnel who are on standby to respond to a call out at any moment, though only seven will be required to crew the Severn Class lifeboat on a 'shout'. To ensure the highest level of professional lifesaving service, the crew undergo continuous training through formal RNLI courses and rigorous ongoing weekly training exercises, either ashore or out at sea. Ensuring that every one on the crew is professionally proficient in advanced medical care is a high priority which requires regular refresher training. This is particularly important because of the wide range of marine activity in our operational area. For example; recreational yachting, sea kayaking, scuba diving, cruise liner visits, commercial fishing and fish farming. The lifeboat station therefore requires a realistic mannequin for advanced life support training, and one with which simulations for difficult situations can be practiced. I am raising funds so that a Laerdal Resusci Anne - retailed at £1964.40 - can be purchased for the station.

You can donate by following this link here - My JustGiving Fundraising Page - Thank You!

The Route

The sea route

Weather conditions allowing, my plan is to complete this challenge within a week.

Setting off from Oban after completing the opening 5 km run on the edge of the town, I kayak the 33 km to Salen on the Isle of Mull. From here I run / jog / walk to the summit of Ben More, 37 km there and back.

Back at Salen I head off in my kayak back down the Sound of Mull and into the Firth of Lorne, making my way south to the village of Craighouse on the Isle of Jura, 96 km away. With favourable conditions and fair tides I hope to manage this in one go, possibly sixteen hours of paddling. On arriving at Craighouse I head for the Paps, the easily recognisable rounded hills on the island and run / jog / walk up these and back, a route of 21 km.

From Craighouse and back in my kayak I head for Machrihanish on the Kintyre Peninsula, a distance of 51 km. From here I round the notorious Mull of Kintyre with it's reputation for fearsome tides and aim for the hamlet of Lamlash on the eastern side of the Isle of Arran. This stretch being an ambitious 78 km with one long open water crossing. On arriving in Lamlash I then run / jog / walk the last of the mountains to the summit of Goat Fell and back, 29 km in distance.

Then the final kayaking leg and an open crossing of the Firth of Clyde from Lamlash to Troon on the Ayrshire coast, 28 km away.

All in all, I will have journeyed 378 km with the kayaking and the walking combined.

Keeping Safe

I am an experienced and accomplished kayaker and kayaking solo is second nature for me. I kayaked solo around the coastline of Scotland in 2015. I am also an accomplished mountaineer and wild country traveller. I take the responsibility of keeping myself safe very seriously. Adventuring outdoors involves a constant process of dynamic risk assessment. Given the inevitable challenging circumstances I will face, my experience and wisdom will determine the actions I follow. Extreme eventualities may not be foreseen but they will be mitigated by sound preparation.

I will be totally self sufficient with the means to camp, sleep, don dry clothing, eat hot food, and safely sit out periods of stormy weather. I will have the means to navigate with electronic and traditional methods. Working with accurate weather forecasts and tidal information will be a vital ongoing process. I will have the means to communicate (coverage allowing) by cell phone and VHF radio. Throughout my journey on the sea I will keep the Coastguard informed. I will have the means to attract emergency assistance with my personal locator beacon (PLB), rocket flares, signal flares and signal smoke. I will have a satellite tracker which will update my location every hour (or less) and which will be visible on the internet to folks interested in my progress. This tracker will have the facility for alerting designated people in the event of an emergency but I will not rely on this. I will be wearing kayaking apparel suitable to the conditions. I will carry spare equipment and first aid. I know what action to take in the event of a forced exit from my kayak and I'm proficient in re-entering and continuing my journey if this should happen. 

For the mountains I will carry sufficient means to keep myself warm if I'm forced to stop, I'll have waterproof clothing, I'll have the means to navigate in poor weather and the dark, sufficient means to light my way and the means of attracting emergency assistance if required.

This is an adventure which is well within my ability to undertake but I'm not complacent and if the conditions become too severe to complete the challenge safely, I will stop and retire.