At around 6am on Thursday 12th of May, three adventurers set off to paddle the full 150km of the Argyll Sea Kayak Trail – spanning the coastline of Argyll and Bute.
The route has been accomplished in its entirety by a number of paddlers to date – but this particular group managed a double first:
- in completing the trail on SUPs, [Stand-Up Paddle-boards];
- and with one of them, Dean Dunbar, becoming the first registered-blind paddler to complete the trail.
The team was made up of Ian Cormack from Glasgow, who runs SUP Ecosse; Allistair Swinsco from Carlisle who runs Northwest Paddleboards; and the registered-blind Dean Dunbar, a paddler from Blairgowrie who is also an inspirational public speaker.
The team are all highly experienced paddlers and aimed to complete the 150km paddle in around four days, depending on weather conditions.
They started the trail from Ganavan, just north of Oban, on the 12th of May and, on target, arrived [below] in Helensburgh on the afternoon of Sunday the 15th of May.
The challenge was originally thrown down by Oban SUPer [Stand-up Paddle Boarder], Cathy Winterton. She was planning to be part of the team, but unfortunately due to family commitments, had to pull out.
Dean Dunbar says: ‘I was first told about this route last year and since then I’ve been waiting to get started. I’d like to thank Argyll and Bute Council who have been of great support during the planning of this trip’.
As well as the team on the water, there were two support vehicles on land throughout the trip – driven by Rhona Dunbar [with Stumpy, the dog] and Alison Rennie. Cathy Winterton planned to join the group towards the end of the trip.
Two years after being registered blind at the age of 29, Dean did a charity tandem skydive which changed his life. Since then he has notched up over 80 activities around the world, ranging from adventure racing to zorbing, and set almost 20 world firsts in activities ranging from open-water swimming to stand up paddle-boarding. More information on him can be found here at Extreme Dreams and here at Dean-talks.
The Argyll Sea Kayak Trail is a group of easily accessible launch sites at key points along a route which links Helensburgh in the south-east with Oban in the north-west. Argyll and Bute Council worked with businesses and community groups such as Scottish Canals, Tarbert Harbour Authority, Bute Forest and Toward Sailing Club to deliver the Argyll Sea Kayak Trail – a response to the powerful pull of the marine activity tourism which Argyll is so richly resourced to satisfy. More information on the development of the trail can be found here.
Stand-up paddle boarding [SUP] is unlike traditional surfing where the rider is sitting until a wave comes.
Stand-up paddle boarders maintain an upright stance on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water. Growth of the sport has been documented in a 2013 report which identified it as the outdoor sporting activity with the most first-time participants of any in the United States.