Up until April this year Caden Horsley had been the youngest person to paddle our Three Lakes Challenge.
The mantle has now been passed to Tobey Percival who, at nine years old, completed the challenge, over three days, with his Dad, Darren.
Here Tobey tells us, in his own words, how and why he chose to take on this epic challenge.
I decided to paddle the Three Lakes Challenge with my Dad in our open canoe, to raise money for my Cub Scout Pack to go on Summer Camp to Great Tower, Windermere. I wanted them to experience real adventures and take part in activities they wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to.
Our support crew was my mum, Lynne and our dogs Wren and Meg.
For months before our challenge, I trained hard doing cross country running and mountain biking. At Easter we did lots of paddling, completing the Loch Morar and Nevis Circuit.
Leading up to our trip, the weather was looking a bit windy with some really horrible conditions forecast for Saturday afternoon with winds of 30 – 40 mph. Even worse on Sunday!
We decided to paddle Windermere in the dark on Friday, then drive to Loch Awe overnight to paddle the 25 miles in one day, stopping on the way to explore one of the Loch Awe islands. Then we took our time driving to Llyn Tegid to paddle all around the lake on Sunday morning.
We started at Fell Foot on 28 April at 8.30 pm. Cloudy but not too cold, the light was beginning to fade. We had lights for the boats, as well as head torches for the paddlers and support crew. The lake was beautifully still and calm, so we headed off following the east shore.
We knew we were making good time when we saw the car ferry. The lights from Ambleside looked beautiful shining in the water. Bats were flying around us. This was my favorite part of the challenge because I have never paddled in the dark before. We made good time, coming in at 3h 02m 45s. I was happy as we landed on the beach at Ambleside. We had a hot drink and a snack and set off driving to Scotland. We set off and I saw lots of badgers over Kirkstone Pass.
After a long sleep in the car, we arrived at Loch Awe to a beautiful clear, calm morning. We stopped for breakfast of bacon, sausage and cheese wraps before heading to the bay at the southern end of the loch. I was excited to see red squirrels and red deer. We launched from the jetty at Torran Bay Hostel in calm waters and sunshine. I remembered that we had to paddle this huge loch in one day in whatever weather conditions were thrown at us. We hugged the south easterly shore to protect ourselves from the wind and waves.
Loch Awe was beautiful, surrounded by trees and dotted with small islands. We were lucky to see ospreys hunting for fish.
After 7 miles we met up with our support crew for a snack and a brew before heading to the small, rocky island of Innis Chonnell to explore the ruined, medieval Ardchonnell Castle. I loved this island and running around the ruins exploring.
There was still 18 miles to paddle and it started raining and it was VERY windy. The water was choppy with some big waves. I had to paddle really hard because the wind was coming from all over the place and it was pouring down. It always rains like this when I am in Scotland.
I liked Loch Awe with its pine tree forests on the hills. We saw rocky cliffs, ruined castles and churches, fisherman, a salmon farm and hotels and strange looking houses on the lake shore. But my favourite part was seeing red squirrels and ospreys.
We crossed the loch to the opposite shore when the wind dropped to make sure we went the right way to the castle. At last, I could see the ruined Kilchurn Castle looming into view at the far end of the Loch. But I still couldn’t see the railway bridge over the River Orchy which was the finish point.
Dad and I are very tired and my knees are aching. This was definitely the hardest paddle I have ever done. I was relieved when we eventually paddled under the railway bridge at the north end of the loch. We had done it in just under 8 hours. I was very tired but happy.
Mum cooked spag bol for tea and then we drove from Scotland to Wales for the final leg of the journey.
After driving through the night, we arrived at Bala in sunshine but strong winds.
We set off from the Foreshore car park. The water was very choppy and the first half of this paddle was against the wind. I was very happy but very tired. Our paddling was slower up the lake than on Loch Awe and Windermere. We had time to enjoy our surroundings and the sunshine. We followed the western shore up to the turning point at the head of the lake.
In England we had seen badgers and bats, in Scotland, red squirrels, ospreys and red deer but in Wales we saw Ray Goodwin in his pink canoe! It was lovely to talk to Ray and his friends. He told me that he had been following my challenge on Facebook and congratulated me on completing the challenge.
We stopped for a picnic in the calm, sheltered bay at Llangower with mum and the dogs. I liked it here, watching the steam train go by.
We set off on the last paddle back to shore with a fairly strong wind blowing across the lake once we were out of the bay.
After a time of 2h 55m 02s we landed back at the Foreshore car park.
I did it!! This was an awesome challenge that I really enjoyed. My favorite parts were paddling in the pitch black, the castle on the island and meeting Ray Goodwin on Bala Lake.
We completed the Three Lakes Challenge in 13 hours 57 minutes and 12 seconds. I am very proud to be the youngest to complete it. I have raised nearly £700 for my Cub Pack so far.
I would love to go back to Loch Awe and camp on the island with the castle on, but I definitely don’t want to paddle the whole loch again in one day! I would like to do a different challenge next year.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me and helped donate towards our paddling challenge for the Adlington Scout Group Tuesday Cubs Summer Camp.