Army veteran’s 910-mile Paddle of Britain challenge to say thank you to the WW1 generation

Army veteran Dan Smith, 39, is embarking on an epic solo challenge paddling the length of Great Britain to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Dan will be kayaking and trekking solo from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England to say Thank You to the WW1 generation and to raise money for the Royal British Legion.

“I’ve always liked a challenge and have always wanted to do something for charity but I never had the time,” Dan says.

“But with this year marking the landmark 100th anniversary of WW1, and being ex-military myself, I’ve finally found a worthy cause to champion that’s got me laser-focused and super-motivated.”

“With no surviving veterans left from the ‘war to end all wars’, I feel it’s more important than ever to remember those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom of future generations. My challenge is but a small token of my appreciation for their sacrifice.”

Dan set off from Durness in Northern Scotland at 9.30am today (Wednesday 28 August) and will travel 910 miles through the country to Little Hampton near Brighton in Southern England.

Dan is hoping to complete the challenge in under 60 days but he says it’s hard to say how long it will take.

“I will be paddling for 6 hours a day and hoping to cover 15 to 20 miles per day but it depends on the wind.”

He will be in the water for as much as possible, but as there isn’t one continuous stretch of water that links the top of Scotland to the bottom of England he will be walking in between pulling his kayak using a special designed trolley system.

Embarking on the challenge alone Dan will be camping and sleeping in the wild and will only stop every seven days at pre-selected destinations to resupply.

“I will be resupplied every 7 days as I can’t carry too much in my kayak.”

Dan needs to take a lot of specialist equipment with him for his journey including, a tent, solar charges, first aid equipment and repair kits, which will be stored in his Kayak when he’s in the water.

Dan training in Newcastle

A former Sergeant, Dan served in the Army for over a decade in the Royal Artillery as a GMLRS Commander and Physical Training Instructor before leaving in 2013. His time in the Army included tours in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

Dan was inspired to take up the challenge after meeting a group of people who were undertaking an epic challenge of their own.

“I was in Portugal and there were a group of people attempting to row from Lagos to Rio and I got chatting to them. This spurred me on to do my own challenge and got the ball rolling. I started thinking about what I am good at, and like. I like walking and kayaking so decided to do something around that.”

Dan believes this is the first time someone has attempted to travel the length of the country in this fashion and is really excited at the prospect of being the first person to do so.

Speaking ahead the challenge Dan said: “To be honest the last few nights have been sleepless and I have felt a bit fevery, but I am feeling good today. I am just doing a Reece of the start now….. and just want to get started and get going.”

By undertaking this gruelling challenge Dan is hoping to raise £25,000 for the Legion.

To sponsor Dan visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paddleofbritain or text POBD79 and the amount you wish to donate to 70070.

You can also track Dan along the route using a GPS tracker which can be found on his website and on Facebook and he hopes to complete a video log of his journey.