Thursday, 12 October 2017

Winter Sea Kayaking courses and more ...

Here is a brief summary of courses that still have availability, over the Winter and into early Spring.  Plus this Summer's sea kayak expeditions:

6-9th November - Advanced sea kayak leader training (5*) with Open water navigation and tidal planning.  With ratio of 1:4 - 2 places left.

13-17th November - Moderate sea kayak leader training (4*) with Coastal navigation and tidal planning.  With ratio of 1:4 - 4 places left

9/10th December - Advanced sea kayaking.  For those who are close to being assessed at Moderate sea kayak leader (4*) or Advanced sea kayak leader trained (5*).  Based around the Advanced sea kayak leader and performance syllabus.  ratio of 1:4 - 3 places left

16/17th Dec - Surf & tide races.  From Intermediate to advanced and with the aim of really getting you surfing those waves.  ratio of 1:4 - 3 places left.

13/14th January 2018 - Advanced sea kayaking, with ratio of 1:4 - 4 places left

3/4th Feb - Surf & tide races.  Details as above and ratio of 1:4 - 3 places left

17/18th Feb - Intermediate Plus, working on Moderate water skills and ideal for those who have completed the Moderate sea kayak leader training and want support with their action plan.  ratio of 1:6 - 4 places left

24/25th Feb - Surf & tide races.  Details as above and ratio of 1:4 - 4 places left

28/2 - 4th March - Advanced sea kayak leader training and Open water navigation, with ratio of 1:4 - 4 places left

10 -14th March - Moderate sea kayak leader training and Coastal navigation, with ratio of 1:6 - 3 places left.

17/18th March - Surf & tide races.  Details as above and ratio of 1:4 - 4 places left

Shetland sea kayak expedition - 23-29th July at £695 - 2 places left

Orkney sea kayak expedition - 4-10th August at £695 - 4 places left.

Interested in any of the above then email with your questions and I will get back to you with further information.  

Make a change in 2018 and have an adventure! 


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Roof of Britain (RoB) 2017 - Fort William to Inverness, the 'Salty' Version!

The plan had always been to do the complete loop, linking up the West and East coast with the Great Glen.  A journey of 800km.  Yet time was running out for us and at Thurso on the North coast and informal decision, or was it a thought, that was made to get to Inverness. This way we had a clear start and finish and a salty version of the RoB.  This felt right and
as long as bodies held out and the weather played ball it was possible.  

The start at Corpack with Ben Nevis in snow!!

My Facebook feed from the 16th April 2017, has the daily action here.   I'm going to keep this Blog to the bare bones, with a summary, facts and my favourite ten photos.

looking up the Sound of Mull
  • From GPS our total distance was 727km
  • 27 days in total with 8 days off, with 6 storm days and 2 days were we arrived earlier and decided to use the benefit of a public camp or caravan sight, to wait out the storm.  In both cases this really paid off, so good sleep was had and we could each refuel.
Tobermory, Isle of Mull, with Don, Craig, Alan, Gerry and Roger

Sunrise, just North of Tobermorry (Mull) and our first early start

  • Longest day was day 25, with 67km and this was Wick on the East coast to 8km South of Helmsdale.  6 hours on a flood Spring tide and then paddling close in along a spectacular coastline with thousands of sea birds. A 13 hour day.
Gairloch, after a snow storm
  • Shortest distance was day 1, after leaving a car to Inverness and packing the boats at Corpack (N of Fort William) to the Corran Narrows - 16km

  • Our most efficient distance was our last day.  Day 27 Cromarty to Inverness, 45km in under 5 hours!
  • 11 wild camps,   7 public camps, 1 at a hostel, 4 in a caravan, 2 accommodation connected to a pub and 1 night on a floor (brother in law of Alan's).
Arrival at the stunning Sandwood Bay NW Scotland

Sandwood Bay was totally magic!

  • On 17 beaches we did a 2 minute Nurdle hunt and we found none.  This came as a surprise, but is great!  We also only found 2 cotton ear buds and details have been sent to FEDRA and the Great Nurdle Hunt
Duncansby Head and we're on the East coast!
  • We saw many sea ducks, red and black throated divers as well as great northern, 2 white tailed sea eagles, 7-9 otters, 4 pods of dolphins (common, risso and 2 bottlenosed), submarine motoring along 1-2km North Rona, 2 artic skua's, puffins from around the Gairlock area and my first time hearing puffins calling was at Thurso.  Many other sea birds with the most prolific on the east coast south of Wick.
  • We camped/bivied at Sandwood bay (last sandy beach before Cape Wrath and landed for a break at Kervaig (first sandy beach on the North coast).  Both are in amazing locations and two places I thought it would take along time to get the right weather, to be able to visit!!
Bringing the journey to an end at Inverness ...
As with most big trips, theres is always those that help to keep things moving forwards and after so many snapped tent poles with Gerrys F10 tent, Kate Duffus and a chance meeting helped with similar diameter poles.  The hostel at Lochinver were ace in receiving a new set of poles.  Sue (Alan's friend), was a great help and took both Gerry and Alan across to collect while we were off the water in the Summer Isles.  Alan's brother in law did us proud when we arrived in Cromarty at 20:00 at his front door, having never received a text and the pub had stopped serving food!  Thanks for the many super messages on social media of information, support and encouragement.

Big thanks to Sonja for managing the bookings while I was away and doing a super job.

Dates for the Roof of Britain and One Big Adventure 2018 (1BG) will be out soon, so if your interested and want more information, have a look here or email me at 


Friday, 24 March 2017

The Roof of Britain and hunting for Nurdles!

On the 15th April 2017 we begin our journey to paddle around the 'Roof of Britain' (RoB) a journey of 400 nm and with some of Britain's most exciting, committing and beautiful coastline.   Basically its the top half of mainland Scotland, involving Cape Wrath and the Pentland Firth.  

The team is made up of Alan from Sheffield, Don from Portsmouth area, Gerry form the Isle of Man, Craig from Anglesey and myself.

Thanks to Tavi for this original creation!
We have had two intensive training weekends over the last 10 months and with a chilly overnighter mid January, to test kit, tents and equipment.  Back in 2015 we got surprised by snow on a couple of beaches!!  Since January action plans have been further worked on and emails have flown back and forth.  

Where we will start the RoB, will depend on the weather at the time and for the forecast for the following week. We have 4 weeks in total to work with and to get as far as we can and complete the loop if the weather and bodies allow.   

In 2015 we lost 10 days to storms and ended up with some big mileage days to try and complete the loop.  It was a truly stunning expedition with a couple of exceptional mammal sightings - three Orca on the North coast and a Minke Whale, South of The small Isles (on the West coast).  If you want to read our 2015 adventure then a couple of Blogs area here:

On the North coast of the RoB and a totally magic day with a BIG ground swell and a super sunny blue sky day.

The other exciting news is we have team up with FIDRA to map Nurdles (raw plastic).  Nurdles, really, yep!  One month ago I had never heard of these and just thought it was broken down and worn out plastic.  As I became aware of the problem I started to see then more easily on the sandy beaches near the high water mark. The plan is as we paddle the RoB, on each beach we land, the intention is to do a 2 minute collection.  As well as observe and record is there more, so as to provide further evidence of how bad the spread is.  Hopefully this will further support the work this company is doing in education and management.

Ive since learnt its better to ware gloves due to the toxins!

So, I wonder what weather we will experience in April/May 2017?   We will keep a weekly updates via Twitter and Facebook on our progress and if the weather is bad, then there will be time for a blog!

Hoping for many days of the sun on our faces and the wind on our backs - wish us luck  ;)

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Greenland - Eat, Paddle, Sleep, Climb 2017

Back in 2008 Olly first invited me to Greenland but at the time it was my first real season with Coastal Spirit, so I said no!

When discussing the possibility of a trip in the summer of 2017, I was really keen to be part of it.  That possibility has now become a reality with funding from the Artic Club and supported by Gino Watkins Memorial Fund; A & J Simpson Award.  Many thanks for this!

The plan is to be self contained and journey in sea kayaks going North of Upernivik (on the North West coast) to explore the numerous potentials for climbing on the many islands in this area. The main objectives will be climbing alpine style roures we come across, accessed in a low impact approach from sea kayaks.  

We will have 28 days in total.  This will allow us to travel to the area, and probably 24 days  in Greenland.  We will need to pack our sea kayak with all of our food, camping kit, paddling and rock climbing gear for the whole time.

Im really looking forward to my 
first time in Greenland and my second time above the Artic 
circle.  I'll aim to keep you all updated with progress.

I would also like to thank Tent Meals  for their support towards our expedition, with great tasting, natural high energy breakfasts and evening meals.  

Photo taken by Olly Sanders
Photo taken by Olly Sanders

Photo taken by Olly Sanders

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Surf & Tide-race Course

This is the type of course that comes up on the various sea kayak festivals and for the last year Coastal Spirit has been offering two focused days paddling in the Surf and Tide-races of Anglesey, North Wales.  This is through open courses, ass advertised below and  weekends also for clubs were this has been a specific focus.

Experience the thrill of catching a wave, developing greater control and stretch your comfort zone, with support and guidance - good 3* skills as a minimum and the ability to roll at the Intermediate level. If windy we go beach surfing or a down wind run on the classic Menai Straits or if calm surf one or more of Anglesey's classic tide-race's.  Learn how best to use your body, gain an insight into Performance Psychology, hear the rush of the waves and feel the salt on your face.

With a maximum of four paddlers you get more from this exciting opportunity and can really develop.

To enlarge the photo click on one of them.

This could be you, just imagine that!  

If your fit, keen, motivated to learn and want a focused time in the waves and surf of Anglesey, this course is for you.  How does it work?  Who ever first books on begins to influence the weekend.  For example, If an Intermediate (3*) paddler books on then the course will be Intermediate to Intermediate Plus (4* trained).  While if on another weekend an Advanced (5* trained) paddler books on then its Intermediate Plus to Advanced.  

Due to small personal group size, individual needs are more easily managed, so you get more from the weekend.  Keep in mind, due to only 4 places available, course's book up fast.  Cost £160 for the 2 days and current availability is as follows:

10/11th June: Intermediate to Intermediate Plus, with 2 places left.

8/9th July: Intermediate Plus (could go either way) 3 places left.

23/24th September: Intermediate Plus to Advanced, 1 place left.

If one of these dates works for you and you want to move this forward then either email me or follow this link to complete an online booking form 

More dates may be added, so keep an eye on my website or contact me if you have a specific date in mind -

Thanks Roger

Spring course's with Coastal Spirit, Anglesey, North Wales

The following courses currently have places on them this Spring and into early Summer.  All are all based in North Wales, Anglesey:

Surf & Tide-race's - Intermediate Plus (4* leader trained) to Advanced with maximum of four paddlers and with one place left.  Cost £160 on the 11/12th March.  Follow this link

Sea Kayak Leader Training (4*) on the 27th-30th March with Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning (CNTP) theory.  Three places left and at a cost of £270.  Follow this link

Advanced Sea Kayak Leader training (5*) on the 3-6th April, with Open water Navigation theory and night navigation.  One place left at £270.  Follow this link

Intermediate sea kayaking - working on 3 star performance skills, 4 places left at £160 20/21st May.  Follow this link

For any further information on any of the above follow the links above or email

I look forward to sharing the stunning Anglesey coastline with you.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

The 3 Lakes Challenge, Solo, Un-Supported on a Paddleboard.

The Beginning 

I think my first go was in April 2015 or was it October 2014, either way I was keen to forget it!  It looked so easy and that's what I expected it to be, so i was shocked, when i couldn't stand up for more than a moment.  So I forgot about it.

I love being on the water. At the same time, its good to leave my kayak on the rack once in a while and stretch those legs.  I was looking for something different were I could play, rest and yes stretch those legs. Earlier this April I was inspired by Jack Hewlett as I worked with him on his British Canoeing 3 star sea.  Ive grown up with Jack and its felt a real privilege to have been involved and shared holidays with his parents, Sean and Mandy and brother Charlie.  

Salcombe, South Devon - Jack and Sean

This time we were on holiday down in South Devon and between sessions, he made Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) look so easy.  I gave it ago.  After staying on the board for 50 mins, I was really chuffed and wanted more.  I bought a Paddleboard and over the next few months I started putting some distance in on The Menai Straits, Anglesey and shorter sessions working in the tidal flow of the Swellies.  This challenged my balance, reactions and was alot of fun.

A previous client had done a sea kayaking courses with me, earlier in the year and I was aware of her achievement with the 3 lakes Challenge, unsupported, solo, over 3 days on a Paddleboard and the first to have done this.  This time I had a thought.  A small thought or question really.  Could I do this, the 3 lakes?  What would it be like? Ive only been Paddleboarding for 6ish months, would that be enough?  I’d done proper long sea kayaking days and expeditions, but what would it be like on a Paddleboard?  I allowed the thought to slip to the back of my mind …but i continued to put in time once or twice each week on my paddleboard and on top of a number of days sea kayaking.

I had a block of days off coming up late September and early October, which i had been protecting.  I was keen to go back up to Orkney or sea kayak around Skye, but the weather was really unsettled.  Then I thought what about my Paddleboard?  I felt vulnerable, so I only told two people and as I got closer to the Friday the weather was looking settled for all 3 lakes.  I began to sort out my kit in preparation.

Llyn Tegid (Bala)

I got up at 0530 and checked the forecast.  Not brilliant with a f3/4, blowing down the lake and then dropping.  I’ve tended to stick to a saying my good friend Sean shared with me once.  ‘rub your nose in it and then decide’ - meaning the forecast is only a part of the big picture.  I decide to set off and have look.  I arrived in rain, with the wind blowing down the lake as suspected and it was cold.  Although It did look like I could sneak up the North shore to the far end and if I could manage that I would then use the tail wind for the return journey.

Wondering 'should I stay or should I go ...

I went fairly light with a spare paddle, storm jacket (like a big cape), water in a hydration pack on my back, bum bag with camera, flare and snacks.  I wore my trusty Kokatat salopettes and paddle jacket and set off.  It felt exciting and committing to the decision felt good.  I had decided if after 30 mins I’d got no wear I could let the wind push me back.  I set my self a point on each bay, working towards the next headland and took a pause i each bay.  I was experimenting with a different style of forward paddling I’d seen the night before on UTube and it seemed to be effective as my shoulders were filling good!

Taking a short land break and no rain!

As I reached the far end of the lake the sun came out, i landed had some food and then set of for the middle of the lake, to make the most of the wind on the way back.  2 hr 30 mins later I had landed and Lake Bala was in the bag!  I changed out of paddling clothes, had lunch, a mug of tea and then I was off for the Lakes to stay with my parents for the night.  

Lake Windermere

I was up early and at my start point before light.  I had more kit this time, with a change of clothes for the other end, a lighter paddle jacket, my paddleboard kit bag, to transport the board back on the steam boat and more food!

As I set off there was a gentle breeze against me, i only hoped that's what it remained, gentle.  I soon found my rhythm as I moved along the East shore.  As approached Bowness on Windermere I watched the car ferry cross and hung back, deciding which side to cross to.  I decided to stay on the East side and worked my way through the moored Yatchs and then crossed over to the West side, via the Northern point of Belle Isle.  It was great seeing the various hills and peaks wakening up and beginning to show them selves as the day enfolded.

I watched the steam ferry heading for the top of the lake and I squinted into the distance.   This was my end point and I could just make it out.  A few yachts were out and that breeze I was pleased to say had dropped right off and a glassy glaze had been left behind on the surface of the water.  

Ambleside and time to pack it all away for the steam ferry ride back

4hr 12mins and I paddled into a bustling Ambleside, pleased with my time.  I quickly looked at my watch and I had 20 minutes to catch the steam boat back or, get the one after at 1300.  I went for the later as it allowed me to change my clothes, pack my Paddleboard and have a big mug of tea and a baked potato, with salad beans and cheese.

The drive North and a brief pause to soak up a super sunset

Loch Awe

I had now paddled 18 miles, near enough 30km and I was wondering how the 40 km of Loch Awe would go. It was clear that I was moving at an average of 4.5 km per hour so with breaks the best I could do was around 10 hours.  As I drove North i had phoned ahead to stay at the Toran Bay Hostel, as the winds had an Easterly then SE component I was planning to paddle South to North.  

This also meant I was right by the water edges, so up at 0530 again and paddling away at first light gave me 12 hours of daylight.  The only new bit of kit I had added was a hooped bivi bag.  If needed my intention was to put my change of clothes on, sleep on top of my board (on the land!!) and have the bivi bag to keep me dry.  I had enough snacks, but I choose to leave the stove, sleeping mat and bag behind.  I wanted the thought of a bad nights sleep to spur me on.  Plus I had spoken to the owner of the hostel and we had arranged for a small fee a pick up time and i don't like letting people down or being late!

I had also thought differently about my clothing and with such a good forecast, decided to wear sandals, thermal leggings my Kokatat pac light water proof trousers and a short sleeve thermal top with a hooded long sleave thermal top.  I had got two hot the previous two days.   The hydration bag had worked really well on lake Windermere and I had another 1lt container of water on the board. 

The start with the drifting mist  ... 
I left the jetty and it was the first time my internal dialogue was active and negative with self doubt.  The mist was reeling in and I soon realised it was actually fog.  It felt like I was really paddling into the unknown, it was cold and there was a dampness to the air.  I had around 100-150 mt visibility and a very gentle breeze and swell towards me.  All I could do was keep the shore in sight and as soon as I saw a brief headland, I would set a course for this.  

Lunch on land and the sunshine is out!
3 hours later the sunshine began to show its self and bit by bit the fog was burnt off.  Yay, as I felt the sun on my back and then a change in the breeze.  I headed away from the shore and for headlands further away, now with a breeze on my back.  Time for some lunch and a break on land.  I allowed my self 20 minutes, knowing this now had to fuel me for the half of the journey.  I had been slower than expected, as the fog had made me keep much closer to the shore, so I had some time to make up.  I wasn't going to bevy out!!   

Down to my short sleeved t shirt ...

I headed off more in the centre of the Loch and towards the Black Islands, with the breese just to the right of me. My shoulders were feeling sore now but I could see the NE end of the Loch in sight, and this spurred me on.  It was a beautiful afternoon and the mountains and the water looked stunning.   I was very pleased to be out there on the water.  

What a magical end to a SUPer day :)

I paddled towards the bridge in magic light and super silky surface.  9hr 40 mins was my time and I was really chuffed.  I changed and deflated my board, packing it all away and carried it to the car park.  I was staying a 2nd night in Toran Bay hostel, and once back went straight for a shower to get that hot water on my well exercised shoulders!

43 paddling miles, solo, unsupported, in 3 days and the 2nd person on a Paddleboard with a total time of 16hr 22mins.

The end, for now ....

Further articles that Roger wrote, can be read below and a short film he also created of the magic conditions he had:

SUP Connect


Short film on YouTube

The 3 lakes Challenge information can be found here

Update - Roger is excited to share, is that since the 3 Lakes Challenge he has received sponsorship from Andy of McConks Padleboards and he looks forward to paddling the 10.6 for local playing and the 12.8 explorer for future adventures.  

Roger is more than happy for previous clients and friends to try and see if Paddleboarding may open up adventures for other's too, as he now has three different paddleboards.