Machrihanish landfall for UK’s first circumnavigation canoeists

The canoeists at sunset in Machrihanish last night.

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A pair of canoeists paddled into Strontian on Monday evening and became the first ever to complete the 2,000 mile voyage round the UK.

Last Thursday, former police inspector Colin Skeath, 50, and his 25-year-old nephew, Davis Gould-Duff, who left Strontian in west Lochaber, on April 30, made landfall at Machrihanish.

Paddling a £4,000 canoe, made by Swift in Canada and named Temagami, the pair had just 115 miles to go before ending the epic odyssey.

The pair, camped on a patch of grass by the bay, spoke exclusively to the Campbeltown Courier after spending the day crossing the North Channel in their flimsy craft, about 35 land miles, from Glen Arm in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

‘People were quite worried about our safety when we rounded Cape Wrath and canoed through the Pentland Firth,’ said Mr Skeath.

‘But that was one of the highlights for me. There were some other amazing moments – it certainly fulfilled the definition of the word ‘adventure’.’

‘There have been some quite exciting stretches, winds up to force seven and the highest swell we have encountered has been nearly four metres.

‘The most awkward crossing was from Orford Haven in Suffolk to near Margate in Kent, the wind was force four to six with rough seas.

‘So far we have raised about £2,000 for the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield, which looks after youngsters with life-shortening illnesses.’

Spending long days together in a wee boat fighting the elements, and sleeping in a tiny two-man tent might seem like a recipe for arguments but the pair said that there have been no serious disagreements.

Mr Gould-Duff, who works in a Limerick outdoors shop called River Deep Mountain High, said that having previously spent nine days climbing the Muir Wall, on El Capitan’s south-west face, in America’s Yosemite national park, they knew they would get on well.

Mr Skeath said a man had attempted the trip solo, in a decked canoe in 2012 but had gone through the Caledonian canal before giving up after 1,000 miles.

 

At first Mr Skeath tried to keep to a very healthy diet but said that they have lost so much weight he will eat anything and Mr Gould-Duff seems to love cheesecake.

Forced to spend a rest day in Kintyre due to a poor forecast, Mr Skeath said his current craving is for sausages and he was keen to know which Campbeltown café did the best bangers.

Mr Gould-Duff, who has a degree in music and video production, said the voyage has left him time to think and he will pursue a qualification in mechanical engineering. His uncle said he might start a new career as a canoe guide.

The paddling pair on the Machrihanish shore at sunset. 25_c30canoe01_Davis_Gould_Duff&Colin_Skeath