Barbara Broderick, a search technician from Cheshire Search And Rescue (CSAR) and a teacher at The Grange School, Cheshire, wanted to raise some funds for both CSAR and The Joshua Tree charities, so she set about finding a challenge and people willing to do it. That included two other search technicians (one of whom did the driving), someone else from school and me. Two of us had paddled significantly before through previous jobs working with young people, Barbara had done bits here and there and Ruth from the school had done nothing.
We had a couple of training sessions and set off optimistically on Saturday 23rd May to paddle Llyn Tegid. This was an easy start with glorius sunshine and little wind. From here we drove straight to the Lake District, camping 15 minutes away from the South end of Windermere. We started at 6 am the next day moving boats and dropping vehicles and were on the Lake at 9 am. The lake was very busy, but we kept to the shore line, taking breaks here and there.
We finished at 2pm, getting out at Brathay Hall and stopping for lunch on the lawn before heading to Torran Bay Hostel (where we camped for free) in Ford at the South end of Loch Awe.
Starting again at 6am, on the water by 7am, hopeful that the forecast of North Westerly winds was going to be wrong! We were blessed with a tail wind for a good part of the first 10 miles, sometimes surfing down the small waves and getting up a good speed. Again we took breaks to re-fuel, taking a jet boil with us so we could make warm drinks. At some points we head unhelpful winds, but we used the winds as you would if you were sailing, tacking across them and ferry gliding so we could turn off them and have them behind us which worked really well.
It got very choppy where Loch Awe opens in a leg to the West; white horses could be seen on the waves. Eventually we reached the railway bridge where you get out, it took us 9 hours which included 3 stops of 20 minutes and we were off the Loch by 4.30pm getting ready to head to the pub in Kilmartin for a well deserved pint and some warming Scottish food!
We raised funds through donations, JustGiving.com and text, and all monies will be split between the two charities.
Being in three countries in three days, paddling 43 miles down stretches of water in beautiful surroundings and raising money for great charities with other great people left me feeling extremely satisfied, happy and worn out. I'd do it all again tomorrow!