650km. 3 weeks. 1 female.
Adventurer and Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion, Lizzie Carr, returned last week after embarking on the challenge of a lifetime: to become the first person to successfully paddleboard the length of England via its connected waterways, using entirely human powered means. And she did it!
Lizzie, who has a TSK paddle boarding qualification from London based company, Active 360, is an experienced paddler on rivers and oceans across the globe. Lizzie navigated 193 locks throughout the journey and travelled along more than 8km of tunnel and aqueducts standing over 25ft above the ground. In the second interview in my new series INSPIRED Adventurer Lizzie talks to me about her passions, motivations and her love for the great outdoors.
- How are you feeling after your impressive feat of paddle boarding the length of England?
It’s been an incredible adventure but paddling for 12 hours a day started to get exhausting so I’m enjoying a rest now I’m back.
- What has made you follow the path of endurance and adventure?
I have always been an adventurous person,
I fully believe you don’t need to travel to far-flung destinations to have an adventure – we have some incredibly challenging and beautiful terrain right here in the UK and it’s important that we take the time to explore it.
My passion for endurance and adventure is portrayed perfectly in the challenge I just completed. Paddle boarding the length of the country was a great way to show its natural beauty from an altogether different perspective – the water. Our canals are iconic pieces of history that provide a presence of calm and tranquillity in urban settings. They are easily accessible all over the country they are currently under threat from plastic pollution and debris that, if we don’t address soon, will compromise the beauty and quality of our experiences along the canals
- Where did your trip take you? I hear canals, rivers!
My trip commenced on Wednesday 11 May 2016 when I took the first strokes of the 650km (400 mile) journey that saw me paddle for more than three consecutive weeks to cover this distance. Commencing from the most southern point of the connected network, the River Wey, I travelled north through Oxford towards Coventry before entering the Stoke on Trent canal and onwards towards River Douglas before reaching the River Ribble where I navigated the Ribble Link. This trip was the first time a paddle boarder has been granted access through the link and other areas of the waterway network, helping pave the way for the sport across the country and bringing it to the mainstream.
- What environmental issues did you raise throughout the duration of your challenge?
The challenge had an important environmental purpose, as I mapped out and scale the issue of plastic pollution, highlighting hotspots that require attention along the way. Throughougt my journey I highlighted a series of issues that the environment in the UK is facing. This challenge was a way to reclaim our waterways in the hope that people care, fall back in love, and take action against the problems we’re facing with plastic pollution.
- What inspires you in your everyday life? How do these inspirations motivate you?
I admire ordinary people that go out and achieve extraordinary things in any area of life. I find that really inspiring.
- What is your favourite gadget when you are on your travels?
During the trip I will be carrying 30kg of equipment on her paddleboard, including a tent for camping as well as supplies. I love jerky and it’s great energy food so I have lots of that from Top Herd and my luxury item is dry shampoo but I’ve tried to keep the weight down as much as possible.
- What is your favourite country and why?
I really love the UK for adventures. We have some of the most rugged, challenging and varied terrain in the world and I think people often underestimate it. It’s certainly not a soft option. I love the Isles of Scilly and spent a lot of time when I was growing up – it’s a place I go back to time and time again and fall in love with all over again.
- Why is paddle boarding such a great activity and how did you get in to it?
I started paddle boarding a couple of years ago as a low impact way of regaining my strength and fitness after being diagnosed with cancer – and I was hooked immediately. It’s low impact and can be either solitary or sociable and gives you access to places you might not otherwise see.
- If someone reading this interview wanted to get in to paddle boarding where might they be able to go to learn the skills and get out on the open water?
You can paddle board on canals and river across the UK so chances are everyone has pretty good access. There are also SUP clubs around the country for any one that wants to give it a try. It’s great to paddle on oceans but travelling along rivers, canals and lakes also has its appeal – and it’s an excellent core workout without having to spend hours at the gym!
- And finally, who is your ultimate travel partner?
It really depends. I love going away on my own, with friends but also with my boyfriend. It really depends where I’m going and what I want to get out of it.
Find out more on Lizzie’s website (www.lizzieoutside.co.uk) as well as on Ordnance Survey’s website (www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk). Follow Lizzie on social media Twitter and Instgram using #SuperSUPEngland
Lizzie will be supported two charities as part of this challenge, WaterTrek and WaterAid, splitting all proceeds equally between them both.