Editor’s Observe: We requested Paddle Monster and endurance paddler Adrian Angell for a first-person account of his current paddle throughout England, a 220-mile effort alongside the Coast to Coast route, which he accomplished on might twenty fourth, in six days, seven hours and 5 minutes. What follows is his account of the epic paddle.
By Adrian Angell
Since 2018 I’ve been doing annual fundraising paddles for Diabetes UK. The preliminary thought got here from a member of the family with kind one diabetes. After listening to me speak about a Maui to Molokai crossing I’d accomplished with Jeremy Riggs, they steered I paddle throughout the English Channel to lift cash for charity. That preliminary spark of an thought, has led to success in elevating consciousness and cash for diabetes analysis, and has me pondering every year about easy methods to maintain stretching myself by taking up the subsequent suitably iconic problem that may seize individuals’s creativeness for media and fundraising functions.
Annually, my two brothers Tim and Stephen, have been my assist crew. They each dwell in southern England, so I used to be searching for a problem which might be near the place they dwell. My preliminary thought was to paddle the River Thames from “supply to sea”. This route is well-known, however after some brainstorming with Stephen by which he identified the River Thames connects to the west coast of England by way of the Kennet and Avon Canal and the River Avon, a way more difficult, thrilling and equally iconic plan emerged, to paddle the 220 miles/354 kms from Portishead Pier, on the Severn Estuary, to the Southend-on-Sea Pier, on the Thames Estuary. Having paddled throughout Scotland between Fort Willian and Inverness as a part of the Nice Glen race in 2019, it appeared complementary to additionally paddle from coast to coast throughout England.
In fact, having the thought is one factor, however then comes the analysis and a realization of the challenges. The obvious problem is that to paddle from sea-to-sea throughout an island, a superb a part of the journey goes to be uphill! On this journey, I needed to plan across the tidal flows of the rivers in the beginning and end of the journey, which overpower the fluvial stream of the rivers. Many of the elevation achieve was alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal, which has 105 locks. I gained 452 toes in elevation from the start line in Portishead on the Severn Estuary to the summit of the canal between Crofton Prime Lock and Wootton Rivers Prime Lock.
Speaking about my plans with my mates Simon Frost and Andy Crocker at Bray Lake Watersports, in December 2021, I realized about what appeared like a extra daunting problem, which is that paddleboarding just isn’t permitted alongside the River Thames by way of central London. That is for excellent cause, given the sturdy tides on the Thames in London, and the excessive quantity of fast-moving boat visitors, which mix to make for uneven and doubtlessly hazardous circumstances. Simon and Andy related me with Paul Hyman of Lively 360. Paul has developed coaching programs acknowledged by the Port of London Authority which guarantee anybody paddling on the higher sections of the Tidal Thames, have the suitable abilities and data to paddle safely. Paul related me with the Port of London Authority Harbour Masters, and after some dialogue I used to be in a position to create a particular occasion, full with an in depth occasion plan and danger evaluation. After thorough evaluation and revisions, I used to be granted a letter of consent from the PLA, for paddling alongside the Thames on particular dates, which was shared with the coast guard and different authorities alongside the route. A crucial requirement was having a assist boat with VHF radio, to be in fixed contact with the authorities and transport.
Equally, I related with the authorities accountable for the opposite sections of the route, to make sure I used to be compliant with permits. I additionally labored with native skilled Tim Trew from SUP Bristol, to leverage his skilled data of the sturdy tides and hazards in the beginning of the journey alongside the Severn Estuary, and up the tidal River Avon to Bristol.
I made a decision that utilizing inflatable boards could be greatest, given the quantity of transportation wanted, and with all of the transitions round locks, that may inevitably result in some bumping and injury to laborious boards. I used an SIC 14’ X 30” Okeanos iSUP for the tidal sections, which I introduced from the US as checked baggage, and Bray Lake Watersports kindly equipped me with an Allstar 14’ X 26” iSUP, which I used for the non-tidal sections. Bray Lake additionally lent me a QB V-Drive 91 paddle, and I had my Quickblade UV 88 journey paddle as a back-up.
I keep in mind simply earlier than the Nice Glen Race in 2019, Bart de Zwart saying that after six hours, endurance occasions are all about getting sufficient vitamin. With this in thoughts, I ready my every day vitamin every night, which included Tailwind and snacks. One benefit of paddling alongside an outdated business canal, which is now visited by vacationers, is that there are lots of pubs and tea rooms alongside the route, making it handy to cease for a fast lunch and a cup of tea. Since this wasn’t a race, this was a really welcome luxurious. Equally, I used to be in a position to get a fast sizzling meal every night time, with a superb sticky toffee pudding and custard to devour as many energy as I may. Averaging 36 miles/58 km a day, takes quite a lot of energy, and I nonetheless misplaced weight.
With all my plans in place, and my brother Tim as assist crew, I began out paddling from a small rocky seashore by the Portishead Pier at 5:51 a.m. on Might 18th, 2022. Beginning at mid-tide, I used to be in a position to trip the very fast-moving tide as much as Avonmouth, the place I joined the River Avon. Going as much as 8 miles an hour, I used to be quickly on the village of Tablet the place I met up with Tim Trew o0from SUP Bristol. We paddled collectively to Bristol Harbour, the place Tim’s native data was invaluable to seek out the very best route up the riverbank, and into the harbour. From there I paddled by way of the attractive and historic Bristol Floating Harbour, and re-joined the River Avon above the primary weir. I continued paddling upriver to complete day one after 28 miles at Bathtub. Bathtub is the place the man-made part of the Kennet and Avon Canal begins, after which the canal parallels the Rivers Avon and Kennet.
Day two was an extended 46-mile day, persevering with “up-hill” for a lot of the day, by way of the attractive English countryside, and benefiting from some spectacular 18th and 19th century engineering. This included two aqueducts, the Dundas Aqueduct and the Avoncliff Aqueduct, the place I had the distinctive expertise of paddling excessive above the River Avon. I additionally handed by way of the Bruce tunnel, which at 453 meters, is the longest on the canal. The tunnel is vast sufficient for one narrowboat, and I had my eyes fastened on the other finish as I paddle at a brisk tempo to get by way of earlier than a ship arrived from the opposite course. The tunnel can also be the summit of the canal, and despite the fact that the stream is barely small, as soon as I handed the summit, it was an enormous psychological enhance to see my pace enhance on my Speedcoach, and to know I used to be now paddling downhill.
On day three I used to be joined by fellow Paddle Monster, Dan Balda whom I met on the Paddle Monster SUP browsing camp in Florida. Dan was coincidentally on trip in London, and took an Uber to rural Wiltshire to satisfy me at 5:30 a.m. We paddled 47 miles collectively alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal by way of the town heart in Studying to affix the River Thames. Then we continued down the Thames to Marlow the place we had been met by my brothers and different household. We had been additionally joined by my cousin Vanessa, who cycled alongside the canal path with us for some time. The canal by way of Studying passes by way of the Oracle Purchasing Heart, and earlier than continuing we needed to press a button and look ahead to the visitors mild to show inexperienced. After a lot time paddling by way of the countryside, the distinction of paddling by way of retailers and eating places was fairly a change.
My brother Stephen noticed me off from Marlow on day 4, and I paddled 38 miles to the outskirts of London, ending the day at Teddington Lock, after which the River Thames is tidal. I used to be joined by Candice Betts and Sam Barfield from Bray Lake Watersports who had paddled upriver from Bray to satisfy me, and we paddled collectively for a couple of miles again to Bray.
I had scheduled day 5 as a buffer day, with a brief 11-mile paddle from Teddington to Putney. From a scheduling standpoint the remainder of the journey was decided by the tides, assist boat logistics and the Port of London Authority allow, so having a buffer was vital, in case I used to be delayed. It wasn’t wanted, but it surely felt nice to have time to recuperate a bit earlier than the large push by way of central London to the end.
On day six, I began out on the Putney public touchdown an hour earlier than the tide turned. With the assist of the Northern Publicity Rescue boat, I made my method down the Thames previous the landmarks of Central London, being cheered on from the riverbank by household and supporters from Diabetes UK at varied factors. As anticipated, the river circumstances had been uneven, however manageable by way of Central London, and as soon as by way of the excessive visitors areas, I used to be in a position to get into a superb paddle rhythm. The plan was to paddle with the outgoing tide so far as it will take me, and we made it 35 miles by way of the Thames Barrier, below the M 25 Bridge, previous Tilbury Docks to Gravesend, arriving there within the pouring rain because the tide turned.
On the ultimate 15-mile stretch, and now with container ships and tremendous tankers for firm, the estuary opened out to the ocean, with the transport channel marked with inexperienced and pink buoys. We waited a couple of minutes to get permission to cross the transport channel, whereas a container ship handed us producing a bow wave that may have been simply surfable had it been acceptable! As soon as throughout the transport channel, the Southend pier was in my sights. Southend-on-Sea has the longest pleasure pier on the planet, at 1.34 miles, making it an amazing “end line” to have in my sight for the previous couple of miles. Earlier than paddling below the pier, I ended at a small seashore to satisfy some supporters from Diabetes UK, then headed again out by way of mud, to the quickly receding water because the ebb tide continued. I crossed below the pier at 12:56 p.m. on Might 24th, six days, seven hours and 5 minutes after setting out from Portishead Pier.
So far as I do know, this was the primary SUP crossing of England, and was definitely the largest bodily and logistical fundraising problem I’ve taken on up to now. Because of Larry and Paddle Monster for the nice teaching, and to everybody who supported me in particular person and thru donations. Should you’d prefer to donate to diabetes UK, please achieve this right here.
Adrian, a chemical engineer, lives and works in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a Director of Analysis & Improvement at Procter & Gamble. He’s initially from Cumbria, England and fundraises for Diabetes UK as a result of he has household and mates who dwell with the situation.
Picture Credit: Dundas Aqueduct. PC: Tim Angell
Homes of Parliament. PC: Northern Publicity Rescue
Tower Bridge. PC: Northern Publicity Rescue