We did it – and how! So proud to be one of the team of twenty people who took on the challenge of rowing 38 km along the three longest lakes in the Lake District in under 12 hours last week. We paddled the length of Ullswater in Voyager canoes, Coniston Water in Canadian canoes, and tackled Windermere – England’s largest lake – from the southern tip to the northern end in rowing boats.
What a tough but brilliant day, from setting off in the half-light at 6.30 am to find overnight snow had fallen, making The Struggle – the famously steep road linking Ambleside to the Kirkstone Pass – quite a hair-raising challenge for our minibus driver! Thankfully we got to Glenridding safely and piled into two Voyager canoes to set off to paddle along the length of Ullswater, the calm conditions and perfect reflections creating a picture postcard backdrop to our efforts.
Having worked up an appetite it didn’t seem too long until we were back at Brathay enjoying a freshly-cooked breakfast before on to Coniston Water and into rafted Canadian canoes. A sudden blustery head wind and torrential rain had us working hard, but fortunately the storm passed and sunshine and showers – with lovely low rainbows across the lake – accompanied us for the rest of the journey.
The final leg of the journey was the longest, but over three hours of steady rowing in whaler boats brought us from Fell Foot park at the southern tip of Windermere back to Brathay boathouse and a celebratory glass of fizz on the front lawn.
Susie’s aim – to share a unique and unforgettable experience with her family and friends – had been fully realised; it was a day all of us will remember for years to come. Thanks to teamwork – together with the support of Brathay staff and volunteers – we completed the challenge in just under ten hours. That’s not the only record smashed as originally we hoped to raise £2,000 for CancerCare – yet the total donated has already more than doubled that. You can still donate to this fantastic local charity here.
Susie was able to participate fully in the whole experience thanks to a specially-designed canoe seat to support her back and enable her to paddle and steer throughout the day. Her courage and good humour were the best motivation we could have to keep going and fulfil her dream.
“. . . and may every dip of your paddle lead you toward a rediscovery of yourself, of your canoeing companions, of the wonders of nature, and of the unmatched physical and spiritual rapture made possible by the humble canoe”.