It all starts on
24th June 2019!
The South West Coast Path traverses a spectacular area of the U.K. An area I’ve been lucky enough to visit & experience many parts of. Whether that be in a Cornish Pilot Gig, or by V1 & OC6 outrigger canoe, & I’ve even barefoot run a large section of it. I love the diversity & it’s somewhere I never get bored of experiencing. So when thinking of where I’d like to set a long distance paddle, I knew I had to include it.
The path runs between Minehead in Somerset, following the coast of Devon & Cornwall, before finishing in Poole Harbour, Dorset. It’s a total of 630 miles by land, so I’m estimating it’ll be a similar 1000km by sea.
Not many are familiar with the prone paddleboard, despite it being one of the oldest forms of water craft, and can be seen in an 1781 engraving by John Webber of the Sandwich Islands. Unlike a SUP, you paddle with your hands in either a prone or knelt position.
The board I’ll be using had to meet certain criteria in order to make this expedition possible. It had to be long enough to carry both me & all my equipment for around 5-6 weeks. It also had to be light enough that I can still launch & recover it from the water, with the weight of all my gear on it & with the likely fatigue of paddling in testing conditions.
With prone boards not being too common in the U.K. I eventually found a 14ft board in France that would do the trick. All up, I’m hoping my total kit weight, including board, won’t be any more than 24kg. 24kg isn’t much, but when you’re cold, wet & tired, coming in on a steep shingle shore break, things can go wrong very easily - I’ve been there!
Being self-supported & keeping the weight down, means being pretty minimal & going without a few comforts. There’s been a bit of gram counting! My sleeping arrangements consist of a bivvy bag, light weight sleeping bag & camp mat. I’m limited to a few items of clothing (hard when most of it will be constantly wet) plus a few other bits, including battery packs to charge all the necessary tech we take with us these days. Some of that tech is there to provide adequate safety, including a SPOT tracker, which will display my progress & current location, should you wish to come join me for a beach clean, a paddle, or feed me coffee & Vegan food. The tracker link can be found on the ‘Find me. Follow me’ page.