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William and Caden Horsley

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Father and son duo William and Caden Horsley worked hard this summer to complete the Three Lakes Challenge. Upon finishing their final lake, Loch Awe, on August 28th Caden became our youngest ever Three Lakes completer at just 10 years old.

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In March 2016 I saw a story in my dad’s Canoe Focus magazine about the Three Lakes Challenge and I asked my dad if I could do it. My dad said that we could do it together and so we started making plans.

– Caden Horsley

We first heard from them in April, after they had paddled Windermere, accompanied by Oliver, Caden’s seven year old cousin. Despite facing some rain and side winds in the southern part of the lake they found it hugely enjoyable, even finding time to stop for refreshments on a small island en route. They told us then that they had had a brilliant experience and about their ambition to complete the other two lakes in the challenge.

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We already had a camping trip planned to Windermere in April so that was an easy one to slot in. The weather was quite bad that week but there was one day when it was OK so we went for it, and we had my cousin Oliver (7yrs) with us too. It was very tiring with rain coming in at times, but at least we had the wind mostly behind us.

– Caden Horsley

The family group completed their second lake on the 14th of August, when they travelled to Llyn Tegid (Lake Bala) in Wales. Assisted by a stiff tailwind on the way out they, of course, had to paddle against it on the return journey but still managed a respectable 2hrs 30mins.

Oliver was not able to join William and Caden for the final lake (one for him to aim for in the future perhaps), when they travelled up to Scotland for Loch Awe. This time the pair turned it into a real adventure, with an overnight camp on one of Loch Awe’s islands en route.

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Our Loch Awe trip at the end of August was over two nights with one night in our camper van and the other night we camped on an island with lots to explore and play with. We had a small fire then as well which we struggled to get going but eventually we managed. I took a nice picture of a pink sunset. It was an easy paddle the second day to the end of the loch and then we caught a train to Oban where we were picked up to go back to our van. The weather was really good for this trip, with hardly any wind and even sunshine, and we did not even have much trouble with midges. My dad says that Scotland is not usually this kind.

– Caden Horsley

They set out on Loch Awe on the 27th August at around 10.20am, stopping on Innis Chonnel at lunch time and exploring its ruined 13th century castle. Paddling on from here they reached Inishail island at around 6.30pm, where they set up camp for the night. They then completed their journey the following morning; setting off at 8.45am and reaching Kilchurn Castle at 10.00am.

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Each challenge trip involved a camping trip which added to the fun. We had fires and barbecues which helped to keep me warm and fed. As we got further on through the challenge and with some other canoe trips too, I didn’t get as tired as I was getting more ‘canoe fit’. Overall it was great fun and a good challenge. I am very proud to have completed the challenge with my dad and to be the youngest person to complete it so far. If I can do it then I think anyone can with the right equipment and planning. My dad did all the planning with maps and safety equipment but he did also teach me some skills too.

– Caden Horsley

To celebrate completing the challenge William and Caden paddled to the Loch Awe hotel, got out at the station pier, locked up their canoe and kit and caught the train to Oban! There they spent some time watching ferries come and go whilst enjoying lunch and ice creams before being picked up by the owner of the Torran Bay hostel to take them back their van. Some great forward planning there!

William and Caden’s total paddling time, on all three lakes, was 13 hours and 52 minutes. We have a feeling the pair will have many further paddling adventures together.

If you feel inspired by William and Caden's story why not check out our challenge pages here.