Published: 02/01/2014
ISBN: 9781783062270
Format: Paperback

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About the Author

Rowland Woollven started kayaking whilst at school and progressed through the disciplines of down river touring and racing, canoe polo, slalom, sprint, marathon and long-distance racing before settlin... read more

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Sticking With It
A sea kayak odyssey around Britain
by Rowland Woollven

“Looking around the room, through something of a deafening haze, I realised that of the 17 or so people who had paddled around the British Isles at that time, no fewer than half were here.
And so, in that moment, the idea was born. One day I was going to join that club.”

This is an account of the 19th circumnavigation of Britain by sea kayak – by the oldest paddler to complete this, the premier sea kayak expedition in British waters. In 2008, Rowland Woollven and Cath Tanner set off from Ilfracombe in North Devon with the intention of returning there – via Cape Wrath and Dover! – later that same year. Things did not quite go according to plan, however; beset by bad weather and other delays, it was not until 2012 that Rowland, now accompanied by Wendy and Barry Bramley, paddled back into Ilfracombe Harbour.

Sticking With It is the intensely personal story of how one man’s dream unfolded, reaching a successful conclusion after epic adventures around more than 2,000 nautical miles of Britain’s stunning coastline. Share the lows and highs of an extended expedition – from days spent wet and cold, stormbound, in remote locations, to the views and experiences of the coast open only to those who adventure in sea kayaks. Although they combine to complete one overall voyage, this is an account of three very different expeditions, each with its own personality. What does it feel like to have to paddle for one’s life – and how does it feel to finally accomplish a long sought-after dream? Sticking With It is Rowland’s fascinating story, and will appeal to fans of travel writing, in particular sailing and kayaking.

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Rowland has recorded a podcast on his circumnavigation and this can be found on his website by following the link.

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This is an enjoyable read for any armchair adventurer, but in particular, anyone with a penchant for sea kayaking or extended expeditions of any kind will enjoy the descriptions of the challenges, the boredom, the thrills and not least the hilarity that is involved. This is a very understated book that blows the lid of a lot of expedition literature - while the achievement is undoubtedly extraordinary, it isn't a tale in the grand heroic tradition, and there is very little bragging involved - it's more concerned with the human interactions and experiences, the perseverance amidst doubt, exhaustion and very ripe kit, that are what it's really all about. And in an off-beat way this is very inspiring - it leaves you thinking, maybe, just maybe, if I worked really really hard, I could do that too... ?

by Lara Adams

Being someone who is not into kayaking and knows not the first thing about it, I came to Rowland's book with little expectation. But,to my delight and surprise, I found myself thoroughly hooked by this tale of his tremendous odyssey around Britain. It's a story of adventure, of places and people, of courage, joy and disappointment, written beautifully in an engaging and very honest manner. If you are a sailor or sea kayaker, you'll love this book, but equally, if you are not, you will also love this book.

by Kate Drummond-Hay

I am a sea kayaker and thoroughly enjoyed this book. So much so that I read it cover to cover in one day, something that I have not done with a book for many years. As a description of a journey round Britain it is, of course full of scenic high points, but also the fact of the more mundane and workaday stretches of our shores. Here the quality of the reflection, description of the many characters met along the way and the challenges of the mind, body, sea and our maritime climate at its most wayward kept me happily engaged till, like the author. I finally returned to the starting point.

by Ed Lawson


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