Malc and I had been walking the canal for two days and we had reached the lovely Yorkshire town of Skipton. The previous day we had arrived after a wonderful canal walk here from Bingley, and it was time for a break from walking to be on the water instead. A little fun refresh that would be super for the mind and soul.
The canals of our country are wonderful places for rest, exploration as well as them being good for the mind. Walking and hiking is my main thing of course, but during the walk I saw people enjoying the waterway and towpath in a variety of activities. There were joggers, cyclists, fellow dog walkers and we must not forget the people enjoying a boat trip or canal boating holiday.
Then in Skipton I had the pleasure of meeting a very inspirational lady, Jo Moseley. Someone whom, when I think about how I got started on mountains and treks, I can totally understand and listen to her story and intricacies. From a very stressful life as a single mum with many other huge life issues crashing around her she suddenly found escape in the form of activity, with an inspired gift of an indoor rowing machine. Suddenly physical activity and goals could help with wellness.
That led to goals. Rowing a million metres, rowing a marathon. Then came wild swimming in the North Sea. Goal after goal. I love goals myself and know how they can invigorate the mind. I get Jo in so many respects and thus respect her enormously.
The next inspired gift she was given was a paddleboard. This is where what I had heard of Jo comes in, plus how it connects with the canals and the environment together with wellness. A complete positive package.
Jo became the first woman to paddleboard across the country. A coast to coast on the water via SUP. 162 miles, on the water. The route she took was starting at Liverpool and using the Leeds & Liverpool she could get to Leeds then from there along the Aire & Calder Navigation to Goole where it joins the tidal River Ouse. The feat was done in just 11 days, but we must consider not just the tunnel under the Pennines, the effort on a paddleboard, the torrential rain she had etc. But the fact that she was on a campaign to pick up thrown away plastics all along the way.
In fact Jo is a huge campaigner for awareness of plastics in our waterways. From the coast to the canals. On my walk I saw so much of it that had been discarded. A never ending job clearing it up unfortunately. When Jo met me at the canal side in Skipton she was not only armed with paddleboard and paddle, but also with a litter picker.
It was time to get on the water, for both me and Malc. Jo was so very patient and helpful. For Malc it would be his first time on the water and not in it so he needed calming and training so as not to put him off. The training ball as bait, after a few encouragements he got on, lay down and became the paddleboard passenger. He started to draw a crowd too bless him.
Malc got so comfortable he even started getting into pose mode for when I pointed the camera at him.
Then it was my turn. My sense of balance is not the best but with Malc being the fidget that he is, that is why we are kneeling instead of standing SUP style. We were having fun on the water, no need for a soaking was there.
The sun was out, I was in a gorgeous Yorkshire town, on a lovely stretch of canal, what an absolutely wonderful morning. It certainly refreshed my mind ready for another load of miles to the next stop on the week’s hike. I certainly agree with Jo in that activity and goals are a perfect way to escape and be kind to your mind and mental wellness.
Malc certainly agreed too. I think I’ve inspired him to have me take up water sport for him to join me on.
If you think the canals of Britain are just for walking, relaxation or boat journeys, far from it. Have you thought about doing the coast to coast on a canoe, kayak or paddleboard? Or even learning to paddleboard in the shallow waters of a canal. The Canal & River Trust has a great info page about paddleboarding on our rivers and canals.
Take the plunge, refresh your mind.