that's a paddlin'

A gull's eye view: Paddling 1,600km around Ireland with a tent, a camera and a backpack full of energy bars

John Bolton and Diane Cooper are putting in 12 to 17 hour days as they kayak around Ireland to raise funds for Midlands hospice charities…

Journey’s start… Old Kinsale Head 

A PAIR OF charity fundraisers in the middle of a 1,600km trek around the coast of Ireland say they feel in a “privileged” position to have such an unusual view of the country.

John Bolton and Diane Cooper — who run the Laois-based ‘True Fitness’ — began their journey in Kinsale on 22 June, and say they’ve benefited from the recent spell of fine weather in the early stages of their journey.

However, they’ve been stuck ashore just south of Westport for the last few days due to poor weather conditions — and with 3 metre swells forecast for the area over the next few days John says their journey, which had initially been expected to take 40 days, may now take a little longer.

“Progress has been good. We’re covering around 50 to 60km per day. It takes us anything between 12 and 17 hours,” John told 

Since Wednesday we’ve been stuck on shore though — weather conditions are too severe.

An unusual view of the famous bridge at Mizen Head.

They began their journey in the south-west, John says, because they knew they’d have a fair few arduous treks to undertake in the first few days of the journey.

We haven’t really been hugging the coast — so we’ve been crossing from peninsula to peninsula along between Cork and Kerry, for instance.

“We crossed from Mizen to Dursey Island in about six hours,” he says, adding that their trip across Donegal Bay is expected to take even longer — up to ten hours.

John and Diane.

The pair are raising funds for Laois and Offaly hospice charities:  ”something that has touched everyone’s lives and people respond very well to it”.

You can find ways to donate via their Facebook page.

The add to the challenge, they’re camping along the route — with friends and family occasionally turning out to restock supplies.

They’ve also run into a few “very generous” people who’ve fed them and provided showers and beds for the night.

“We’ve had a great opportunity to take photos along the way too. You’re in a very unusual — very privileged position — along the way, because you can get into spots that even small craft can’t.

At the moment though we’re just very anxious to get back on the water. When the weather was good we pushed hard so we’re just disappointed we can’t keep pushing.

The Blaskets.

Carna, Co Galway. [All images via their Facebook]

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