Circumnavigation - GB Mainland

Route Distance: ~1720 nm / 3185.4 km
Prevailing direction: CW
Record: 2023 - 40
Solo: 17
Team: 11


Dougal Glaisher
Joe Leach
John Willacy
Marcus Demuth
Phil Clegg
Barry Shaw
Harry Whelan
Paul Caffyn
Nigel Dennis
Geoffrey Hunter

Cape Wrath Range Marker Bouy

The ultimate for the GB sea paddler. The limited number of paddlers to complete it shows just what a major undertaking it is. To complete this one is an impressive achievement.
The GB Circumnavigator has to contend with committing coastline, demanding tidal flows, busy shipping lanes, cumulative stress and fatigue and challenging weather. It is no surprise that many have to return to daily life before completing the full distance.
While the popularity of this trip continues to grow it must be remembered that this is the most demanding trip, deserving respect. There is potential for serious trouble here.

Please take a look at the 'Notes' pages for further team details

Multi-Day: Circumnavigation - GB Mainland


Click column header to sort.
1K1M_SkiDougal Glaisher4007-Jul-23AldeburghEpic V8 GT
Supported attemptCW
2K1MJoe Leach6707-Jul-12FalmouthRockpool Taran 18
3K1MJohn Willacy7223-Jun-12AngleseyRockpool Taran 18
4K1MMarcus Demuth8025-Jul-10SkegnessValley Nordkapp
5K1MStuart Trueman8316-Jul-15CleethorpesTiderace Pace 17 Tour
5K1MJohn Willacy8311-Aug-15StackpoleRockpool Taran 18
7K1MMartin Lee9706-Jul-12GreenwichSKUK Explorer
8K1MJames Bonnell13804-Sep-10FalmouthP+H Cetus
9K1MRob McLaughlin14304-Sep-83LondonValley Nordkapp
Unverified attemptCW
10K1MGuy Slater20422-Sep-13CambridgeRockpool Taran 18
11K1MStuart Fisher15 yrs?2003???

11 solo paddlers

+ Solo Various

Click column header to sort.
--K1MEric Innes8428-Aug-09BlackpoolValley Nordkapp
Short Route: Via Caledonian CanalBlogCW
--K1MNoel Webb17627-Oct-07ShotleySKUK Explorer
Short Route: Via Caledonian CanalBlogCW
--K1MRichard Atkinson12102-Sep-02Spey BayValley Nordkapp
Short Route: Via Crinan CanalArticleCW
--K1MSimon Osborne11331-Aug-02AberystwythSKUK Explorer
Short Route: Via Crinan CanalLinkCW
--K1MChris Duff1651986River HumberValley Nordkapp
Short Route: Via Crinan CanalCW
--K1MGeoffrey Hunter1851970Short Route: Via Crinan CanalCW

6 solo paddlers


Click column header to sort.
1TeamPhil Clegg
Barry Shaw
Harry Whelan
8029-Jul-05AngleseySKUK Explorer
SKUK Explorer
SKUK Explorer
2TeamPaul Caffyn
Nigel Dennis
8528-Jul-80HolyheadValley Nordkapp HM
Valley Nordkapp HM

3TeamCraig Leslie
Stuart Leslie
Lee Wilson
9629-Aug-12Newbiggin By The SeaSKUK Explorer
SKUK Explorer
SKUK Explorer
4TeamGeoff Cater
Andy Mullins
11523-Aug-12PortscathoSKUK Explorer
SKUK Explorer

5TeamNatalie Maderova
Michal Madera
12029-Jul-12ShadwellTiderace Xplore
Tiderace Xplore

6TeamRachel Cooper
Rob Tew
12811-Aug-13BrixhamRockpool Taran 18
Rockpool Taran 18

6TeamKatie Ellis
Lee Taylor
12809-Aug-15FalmouthRockpool Taran 16
Rockpool Taran 18

K's BlogCW
8TeamPeter Bray
Steve Macdonald
16021-Oct-96LondonD+K_Trotter K2

9TeamMaggie Annat
Dawn Moore
Jon Moore
17203-Oct-84Humber BridgeValley Nordkapp
P+H Umnak
Valley Anas Acuta
10TeamR. Woollven
_ unamed group
151809-Jun-12IlfracombeSKUK Explorer
Valley Etain


10 Teams -- 23 Paddlers

+Teams Various

Click column header to sort.
--C2Davis Gould-Duff
Colin Skeath
8624-Jul-17StrontianOpen Canoe - Swift Temagami

Use of sailfbCW

1 Team -- 2 Paddlers


Maggie Annat / Dawn Moore / Jon Moore (03-Oct-84)
Dawn and Jon Moore were joined by Maggie Annat, setting out from the Humber Bridge in April 1984. During their GB circumnavigation attempt the trio aimed to raise monies for the Outward Bound Trust and the RNLI. Jon later published an article in 'Canoeist' magazine; unsurprisingly he writes of the weather they experienced and the people they met, along with details of the day to day paddling.
He closes the article so: 'Taking 5 1/2 months over the trip made it into a way of life; the achievement hasn't really sunk in. I wonder whether it ever will to me or whether achievement is all to do with other people's expectations and relative thoughts on one's success.' Thankyou to Stuart Fisher for copies of the article.

Richard Atkinson (02-Sep-02)
Short Route: Via Crinan Canal.
Richard started his trip at Spey Bay on the Moray Firth, by coincidence during the week before Simon Osborne began his. When asked about anything of interest to report Richard replied
"I'm a plodding soul and prepared painstakingly; maybe for that reason the trip was reassuringly dull and epic-free, though like most of us I imagine, I had a few close shave days."
I also asked Richard about his choice of using the Crinan canal - his reply:
'That's an interesting question. I took it because I was short of time (I was due to start a masters degree course abroad immediately I finished) and because it didn't seem to lop off any critical section of the GB coast. I am intrigued that several others had done the same as me, as I didn't know they had. I think it's actually rather an interesting route to take, certainly passing through green fields in a sea kayak that till now you've piloted on a wild and grey sea is a nice change of pace on the expedition. I suppose if you take a very absolutist view of these things, one foregoes a clean claim at a perfect circumnavigation. I am tempted to regret that occasionally, before reminding myself that that wasn't really the spirit of the trip at all. The journey is made worthwhile for its own experience and how it affects you.'
Richard also mentions a more frivolous side to his trip; the endless need to source fresh water resulted in a 'certain rhythm to your journey' as route legs leapfrogged between the water taps of coastal public conveniences!
Richard chose a Valley Skerray because he considered it quite a dry boat and stable in severe conditions. Part of his aim was to raise money and publicity for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society during the trip.
Richard wrote an article based on a diary he kept during the trip - see link.

James Bonnell (04-Sep-10)
James was the first to complete the GB Circumnavigation since Clegg, Shaw and Whelan in 2005. James competed the trip in 138 days, with 82 paddling days and a significant number of off the water days - 56. He was delayed by the inevitable weather, injury and even by having his kayak and equipment stolen. James was also accompanied by a shore support van until the driver withdrew in NW Scotland. James started the trip with Joe Andrews but Joe withdrew from the trip in June.
James raised well over £10,000 split between two charities - WaterAid and the NACC (National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease).

Peter Bray / Steve Macdonald (21-Oct-96)
The 160 day circumnavigation by Peter Bray and Steve Macdonald was especially notable as Steve is registered blind, the first and I believe only partially sighted person to complete such a feat. They started out from London in May 1996 in a double kayak designed and built by Dan and Karen Trotter. As with many other expeditions they were dogged with bad weather, injury problems and even the odd capsize, still they competed the distance and raised over £60,000 for the SPARKS charity. Peter Bray is of course also known for his kayak crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, he also took part in the circumnavigation of South Georgia expedition.

Paul Caffyn / Nigel Dennis (28-Jul-80)
The 1980 circumnavigation by Paul Caffyn and Nigel Dennis is regarded as the first successful kayak navigation of the GB Mainland. They started in Holyhead, paddling Nordkapp HM kayaks. The trip took 85 days: 68 paddling days, 15 weatherbound days and 2 rest days. Mileage: 2305 miles All-up avg: 27.1 mpd, paddling day avg: 33.9 mpd
Nigel points out that they set themselves a number of rules before they started out:
"A non-stop attempt - No major breaks,
No portages,
No canals,
and, to start each leg where the previous leg finished."
Both Paul and Nigel are known world-wide within the sea kayaking community. Paul has also circumnavigated the North and South Island of New Zealand, Japan, Australia and paddled the Alaskan coastline. He has written numerous books about his adventures. Amongst Nigel's many expeditions he has crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, rounded Cape Horn, circumnavigated the remote Easter Island and the icy coastline of St Georgia. He is also known as the man behind the successful range of SKUK kayaks, a successful coaching business and the annual Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium.

Geoff Cater / Andy Mullins (23-Aug-12)
Geoff and Andy, paddling under the Midlife Kayak banner, set out from Portscatho in Cornwall in May 2012. They slept outdoors for most of their trip - braving the Great British Summer of 2012 and 115 days later returned having raised over £6000 for various charities.

Phil Clegg / Barry Shaw / Harry Whelan (29-Jul-05)
The 2005 GB Circumnavigation by Phil, Barry and Harry at 80 days stood as a landmark for a number of years as the shortest time taken for the distance. (Equalled in 2010 by solo paddler Marcus Demuth). Harry had to rest after a dislocated shoulder and then set out solo to catch the remainder of the team.
Level 5 coach Phil has paddled a number of expeditions including Greenland and Madagascar and now runs a coaching business in North Wales - Sea Kayaking Anglesey.
Barry has paddled in many venues across the world including circumnavigations of Corsica and New Zealand's south Island and recently made a succesful attempt to round La Isla Grande, Tierra del Fuego. He also holds the title for the most crossings of the Irish Sea (I think it currently stands at 9 times).
Harry has paddled extensively around the coastlines of GB & Ireland. He has circumnavigated Ireland twice, latterly with Jeff Allen in a record 25 days. He works at an activity centre on the Thames where he trains paddling through central London. Harry has been heard to say that there is still plenty of sea paddling to do near to home before he needs to venture too far overseas.

Rachel Cooper / Rob Tew (11-Aug-13)
Rachel and Rob set out from Brixham, Devon in April 2013. They planned to paddle unsupported and self-sufficient, with an aim to complete the trip in 4 – 5 months. They did - completing in 4 months.
The first paddlers to finish in 2013. Rachel and Rob are raised money for the charities SWAN GB and MacMillan Cancer Support during their trip.

Marcus Demuth (25-Jul-10)
Marcus managed to paddle his Valley Nordkapp around the GB mainland in 80 days, equalling the previous record set by Clegg, Shaw and Whelan in 2005 - at the time this set a new record for a solo attempt. His 80 days trip included 14 non-paddling days, though he blames the weather for not co-operating on 79 days in total!
Marcus is an accomplished expedition paddler with trips such as circumnavigations of Ireland and the Falkland Islands under his belt along with trips in Iceland, Australia, Chile, Canada and a storm bound time in Tierra Del Fuego. Marcus also has a background as Rock 'n' Roll drummer - a fact you may appreciate if you speak with him for any length of time.

Chris Duff (1986)
Short Route: Via Crinan Canal.
Chris completed the first solo GB circumnavigation in 1986 paddling a Valley Nordkapp. Chris collected the kayak from the factory in Nottingham, paddled down the Trent and turned right to start his trip - stylish! After a 10 year break from longer trips, Chris returned to sea kayak expeditions with a circumnavigation of Ireland in 1996 later writing his book - 'On Celtic Tides'. He has also circumnavigated Iceland and New Zealand south island. Prior to his GB paddle Chris undertook an 8000 mile, 18 month long trip along the US and Canadian coastlines.Chris has written a further book (Southern Exposure) regailing the adventures of his trip around New Zealand's South Island.
Routed through Crinan canal to avoid bad weather.

Stuart Fisher (2003?)
I believe that Stuart set out to paddle as much of the GB coastline as possible and so claims the longest circumnavigation in terms of mileage.
Stuart also says:
'I believe I can claim to have enjoyed it more than anyone else has'. He started his journey in 1988 with an aim to complete the distance solo, I'll let Stuart complete the story - 'I did part of the Somerset coast in a double and I crossed the Forth with my colleague Andy Morton but later went back and did them both solo for my own satisfaction. I started in 1988 and finished in 2003, the two revisits being done a couple of years later.' He later wrote 'Inshore Britain' using the information gleaned during his extensive journey.

Dougal Glaisher (07-Jul-23)
Supported attempt.
Details tbc.

Davis Gould-Duff / Colin Skeath (24-Jul-17)
Use of sail.
From the canoearoundbritain website:
“People have been circumnavigating Britain in Sea Kayaks fairly regularly since 1980 and possibly even before. People have also been canoeing on the sea for many years – in the GB and around the world. Until now, no-one has taken an open canoe around Britain… Colin and Davis are hoping to complete this challenge in between 3 and 5 months covering around 2,500 miles. However, if it takes longer, so be it.“

Geoffrey Hunter (1970)
Short Route: Via Crinan Canal.
Geoff set off in May 1970 in a plywood Greenland boat with homemade hatches. His adventures include being separated from his kayak off the Galloway coast and spending the night on a buoy before swimming to shore the following day! After finding a job in order to purchase a new kayak, Geoff continued to complete the trip. Tales from his trip can be found in his book 'Angmagssalik Round Britain' - unfortunately out of print I believe.
Taken from Geoff's book:
“The duration of the journey was estimated to take three months—the reality lasted from May to November. The canoeist, Geoffrey Hunter, was acutely short of funds and this obliged him to survive by his wits when ashore, just as his survival at sea depended on his great skill as a canoeist. Geoff narrowly escaped death when he was shipwrecked in the Solway Firth. His kayak was a write-off, but he borrowed another Angmagssalik and continued on his way. Not until he reached the West Country did Geoff begin to get the organised shore-based support that he sorely needed.”

Eric Innes (28-Aug-09)
Short Route: Via Caledonian Canal.
Ex-soldier Eric Innes set out from Blackpool looking for a challenge and to raise funds for the Help for Heroes charity (he finally raised over £24,000). I spoke to Eric during his trip and asked him about his choice of taking the Caledonian canal, was he disappointed? Not at all - Eric figured he would have enough adventure as it was without going around the north of Scotland, besides he needed to get back to work in order to pay for the trip!

Joe Leach (07-Jul-12)
Joe hails originally from the Isle of Man but now paddles out of Falmouth. He is an experienced sea paddler who is also handy in a polo boat. Joe laid his cards on the table from the start, vocal in his aim to set a new record. Good to his word, Joe has now raised the bar to an impressive 67 days for the GB mainland circumnavigation - quite an achievement.

Martin Lee (06-Jul-12)
Martin set out on 1st April from Greenwich with an aim to complete ' 100 marathons in 100 days'. Along the way Martin raised funds for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS).

Craig Leslie / Stuart Leslie / Lee Wilson (29-Aug-12)
The 'With Land On Our Left' guys launched from Newbiggin-By-The-Sea in Northumberland at the end of May 2012. Leaving the beach they turned left and paddled around the GB mainland in an anti-clockwise direction - the first to have paddled the circumnavigation in this direction I believe.
They returned to Newbiggin on the 28th August after 96 days away. They chose to raise funds for 3 charities along the way: Keyfund, Children's Heart Unit Fund and Kidney Research GB.

Natalie Maderova / Michal Madera (29-Jul-12)
Natalie and Michal are a husband and wife team (originally from the Czech Republic) who set out from Shadwell Basin, London on 1st April 2012. Though the journey started and finished at Shadwell, they actually completed the Circumnavigation at Gravesend after 120 days.
Michal and Natalie also raised funds for two charitites along the way: Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre and Joshua's Journey. Natalie and Michal's blog 'HomeSeaHome' details their adventures.

Rob McLaughlin (04-Sep-83)
Unverified attempt.
From Rob:
"Did solo circ from county hall London. 15 April 1983 to 4th September 1983. Round the lot, no canals, unsupported apart from several parcel pick ups from post offices along the way. North Foreland , Lands End, Mull O Galloway, Cape Wrath, Duncansby Head, then down the East coast. Sorry no gps available then. Widely reported in media. Finish reported in The Times Newspaper. Previous to that a chap from South Shields Dave Summers had paddled round a couple of years earlier.
Kayak was Nordkapp from Frank at Valley Canoes. Pete Salisbury used to publish The Intenational Long River Canoe Club. Aimed at long distance paddlers throughout the world.
He published a regular new sheet showing my progress with extracts from my log. Nigel Dennis kindly put me up in his light house on Anglessy on the way. He had also paddled round with his friend a couple of years earlier."

Simon Osborne (31-Aug-02)
Short Route: Via Crinan Canal.
When Simon successfully returned to Aberystwyth in 2002 I believe he was the youngest paddler (22 yrs old?) to complete the circumnavigation, raising £22,000 for Leukaemia Research on the way too. Simon was accompanied by Phil Clegg and Justine Curgenven for various legs.
Simon also circumnavigated Ireland in 2004 and Madagascar in 2009; he now co-runs a successful coaching business with Jeff Allen in Falmouth (Sea Kayaking Cornwall) and founded the London Kayakathon.

Guy Slater (22-Sep-13)
An unusual planned starting point for Guy, setting out from Cambridge. From Guy:
"Yes, I live in Cambridge - so for the first (and last) couple of days, I'll be paddling on the rivers Cam and Great Ouse, coming out in The Wash at King's Lynn. I'm not planning on using waterways apart from that." Guy raised funds for Force Canver Charity and RNLI along the way.

Stuart Trueman (16-Jul-15)
Stuart has a pedigree as an expedition paddler with previous circumnavigations of both Australia and Tasmania under his belt.

Noel Webb (27-Oct-07)
Short Route: Via Caledonian Canal.
Noel started out from Shotley Marina in May 2007 raising funds for the Cystic Fibrosis trust on his way around. After falling behind time due to weather he reluctantly routed through the Caledonian Canal. His blog still resides on the net and makes for an interesting read - CFpaddler.

John Willacy (23-Jun-12)
John completed his solo circumnavigation in June 2012 after 72 days away, the first time the 80 day barrier had been broken. John's attempt was unusual in that he paddled a kayak he designed himself, the Rockpool Taran.
72 days, 1770 nm and an estimated 875,000 paddle strokes.

John Willacy (11-Aug-15)
This is John's second circumnavigation of the GB, he also completed a clockwise circumnavigation in 2012.
Use of on-shore support for most of this attempt.

R. Woollven / _ unamed group (09-Jun-12)
Rowland first started his 3-stage attempt from Ilfracombe in Apr 2008 with Cath Tanner. Together they paddled 1527 nm only to call it a day at Aldeburgh in Suffolk; their attempt was, brought to a close by delays caused by poor weather. Cath set out in a SKUK Explorer LV and Rowland an Explorer HV.
In 2011 Rowland returned to Aldeburgh, this time with Barry Bramley (and now a pair of Valley Etain 17.7s) - paddling from 12 May 11 to 11 Jun 11 the weather and the clock once again meant an early finish, this time at Portland Bill.
XBut not one to be beaten, Rowland returned in 2012, this time with Barry & Wendy Bramley to finally complete the distance on 09 June 2012 - a total of 2118 nm and 224 'exped' days - a determined epic! Though Rowland counted 224 exped days, the total elapsed days was 1518 I believe - a true long term commitment!


Multi-Day: Circumnavigation - GB Mainland

Solo paddlers: 17
Team paddlers: 25
Teams: 11

Recorded Start Points:
    • ?? (1)
    • Aberystwyth (1)
    • Aldeburgh (1)
    • Anglesey (2)
    • Blackpool (1)
    • Brixham (1)
    • Cambridge (1)
    • Cleethorpes (1)
    • Falmouth (3)
    • Greenwich (1)
    • Holyhead (1)
    • Humber Bridge (1)
    • Ilfracombe (1)
    • London (2)
    • Newbiggin By The Sea (1)
    • Portscatho (1)
    • River Humber (1)
    • Shadwell (1)
    • Shotley (1)
    • Skegness (1)
    • Spey Bay (1)
    • Stackpole (1)
    • Strontian (1)

How To Submit A Time/Paddle.