Friday the 24th June saw Shilpa cross the finish line in style after her mammoth 169mile (and 145 locks) paddle from the Pirate Castle in Camden to the Soar Boat Club in Normanton on Soar.
Shilpa had set off two weeks earlier accompanied by a flotilla of kayaks and a canal boat from the Pirate Castle which accompanied her through the Maida Hill tunnel on the Regents Canal. After passing the Paddington Basin the adventure proper started as we waved good bye to (husband) Geehan and Shane who stayed on the boat.
Shilpa and the first 4 support paddlers (Nicki, Belle, Deborah and Daniel) carried on for the next 16 miles to Yeadling, meeting Friends of the Grand Union and helping to litter pick along the way. At the end of the day Willow marina was a welcome sight, along with Geehan and Paul (Deborahs husband). For the next two weeks Shilpa made some very early starts to avoid the heat, and accompanied by one or two people each day made her way up the Grand Union making many new friends along the way. Many of these were made through social media and offered accommodation and other local knowledge.
Richard and Hillary Whitby of SBC very kindly offered accommodation on their boat as they returned from their holiday circuit and then accompanied Shilpa for over a week acting as a support boat with many welcome cups of tea. Other members of the club walked and cycled on a number of days and Geehan managed to fit a few days paddling in after getting bitten by the SUP bug earlier this year.
The evening of the 24th saw Shilpa and a small group set out from Barrow upon Soar, with Richard and Hilary close behind. After meeting a much larger group of paddlers at Bishop Meadow Lock a flotilla formed on the Soar to be welcomed by even more members of the club filling the pontoons and river to bursting point. Following an evenings celebration the following day it was decided that Shilpa hadn’t gone quite far enough and so the original 5 set off from the club to Trent lock.
During this phase of the trip discussion was made of what the next adventure should be!