Circumnavigation of Great Britain 2008
In 2008 Rowland Woollven and Cath Tanner are to fulfil a long-held dream – the circumnavigation of mainland Great Britain by sea kayak. Fewer than 20 people have completed this journey since Nigel Dennis and Paul Caffyn made the first circumnavigation in the 1980’s. Of those, only 3 have been women, so Cath will become only the 4th ‘woman round Britain’. Rowland will, at 54, be the oldest paddler by far to complete the circumnavigation! The expedition has already gained the support of Cath’s employers – Duchy College, Cornwall (they have granted her a sabbatical for the duration of the expedition), and Nigel Dennis, one of the UK’s leading paddlers and a sea kayak manufacturer. Nigel has sponsored Rowland as a ‘Sea Kayaking UK’ sponsored paddler for many years, and has provided Cath with a custom built Explorer LV for her to use. At the end of the expedition, Cath too will become a Nigel Dennis sponsored paddler.
Rowland Woollven has been a paddler since 1964 and taken part in all competitive and recreational disciplines of kayaking and canoeing. His primary interest for many years now has been the sea and 11 years ago he qualified as a British Canoe Union (BCU) Level 5 Sea Coach, Assessor Grade 5 – among the top flight of UK sea kayak coaches. He now trains and assesses paddlers for the 5 Star Sea award – internationally recognised as the highest certification for personal competence and leadership in sea kayaking. Rowland has recently retired from the British Army. He commanded the military Mountain and Sea Training Centre and spent the last 3 years being responsible for all outdoor activity training carried out by the British Forces.
He is also qualified as a mountaineering and ski instructor and is a member of the Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician teaching faculty. In 2005 Rowland graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Master’s degree in Outdoor Education, and has been published in peer-reviewed international outdoor education journals.
His expedition experience has been extensive and includes 5 major expeditions to the west coast of British Columbia and SE Alaska. In 1997 he led the first British sea kayak circumnavigation of the Queen Charlotte Islands, BC. Rowland is a regular guest coach, lecturer and presenter at international sea kayak symposiums in the USA, UK and Denmark.
Cath Tanner is a very keen sea kayaker who has achieved the BCU Level 3 Sea Coach, and 5 Star sea awards (one of a handful of women worldwide who have gained this prestigious award). She is also a BCU Level 3 Inland kayak coach and is an aspirant Level 3 Canoe Coach, as well as a qualified climbing instructor.
Cath has been working in the outdoor industry since 1994 and has been teaching outdoor pursuits at Duchy College (part of Cornwall College) since 2002. She is the Course Manager for the Foundation in Adventurous Activities course, which aims to bring young people into the outdoor pursuits field and help them progress towards becoming instructors.
She also instructs kayaking, canoeing and climbing to students on all of the outdoor education courses at the College - at present this includes 5 courses whose main field is outdoor education (specifically focussed towards careers in the industry) as well as many other courses who take part in outdoor pursuits for skills and personal development training.
Rowland and Cath will start their circumnavigation in mid-April 2008. The exact date and start point (in either North Devon or South Wales) will be dictated by the prevailing weather conditions as they intend to drop in on the UK’s premier symposium on Anglesey over the UK’s Spring Bank Holiday. They will continue in a clockwise direction, making best use of the UK’s prevailing winds, and aim to finish in 5 months. The total distance is around 2200 nautical miles.
Rowland and Cath have already been invited to be the principal lecturers at the 2009 UK Sea Symposium and Rowland will also present to the USA South West Sea Symposium, held in San Diego and sponsored by Jen Kleck of Aqua Adventures. Trip progress will be recorded on 3 websites – Nigel Dennis’s Sea Kayaking UK sponsored expedition updates, Knoydart’s ‘Ongoing News’ web area and on the Duchy College website. It is anticipated that written accounts of the expedition will feature in the BCU journal and the UK’s premier specialist sea kayaking publication – Ocean Paddler. The US publication Sea Kayaker will also be approached. In all of these environments, full and proper publicity will be accorded to those individuals and companies who have helped us to make the dream become reality.
We are very pleased to have gained sponsorship from Kokatat. Quite simply, we have both used Kokatat clothing and equipment over a number of years and are convinced that it represents the very best available to us. Ultimately, it works! – and we will need our kit, clothing and equipment to be utterly reliable on an expedition such as this.
If you would like to obtain further information, please visit www.rwoollven.co.uk
Paddlers: Rowland Woollven