Student takes epic trip to Scotland

Thursday 13 August 2009

A student at the University of St Andrews will make his way back to Fife today from his hometown of Devon – on a kayak.

James Killingbeck, a science student, left home on the River Tamar on 10 June and is expected to arrive in St Andrews at lunchtime today (Thursday 13 August 2009).  James (21) is taking the 1500 mile trip in aid of the Marine Conservation Society.

Complete with ‘essential gear’ such as a cooking stove and mobile phone, James chose to take the long way home – heading all the way up to Inverness before coming back down to St Andrews via Aberdeen.

Not content with kayaking, James ‘rested’ in between legs by running and climbing up the mountains of Snowden and Scafell Pike, which he described as “a welcome contrast to kayaking”.

Last week saw James celebrate his 21st birthday by climbing Ben Nevis and kayaking the Caledonian Canal with a friend.  Growing up in Devon and Cornwall, James was already a fan of sailing and watersports, but until recently had never set foot inside a sea kayak.

James, who has described the trip as “a great privilege for the lone kayaker”, has been encouraged along the way by complete strangers.  At Blackpool, he was welcomed by the RNLI crew who stowed his craft in their boathouse and gave him accommodation for the night.

James carried all the equipment necessary to be completely self-sufficient in his kayak, which is called Odyssey.  His kit included a tent, cooking stove, food, spare clothes, a repair kit, first aid kit, charts, timetables, spare paddles and essential communication hardware such as VHF for coastguard contact, Emergency EPIRB and mobile phone.

Checking in regularly with his father, John, the young adventurer cited the “poor weather of July, with high winds and seas”, as his biggest challenges, with the rounding of major headlands such as the Lizard being key moments in the voyage.

Highlights during the trip so far have included seeing twelve basking sharks off Lands End, numerous dolphins, seals, and an array of sea birds, including huge flocks of gannets.

Before starting his studies at St Andrews in 2007, James worked and trekked in the Falkland Islands, The Andes, New Zealand and Australia.

James’s mammoth journey has seen him pass Plymouth, Fowey, Falmouth, Lizard, Mousehole (Newlyn), St Ives, St Agnes, Widemouth (Bude), Saunton Sands and Porlock Weir.  From there he crossed the Bristol Channel to Portcawl, Rhossilli, Tenby. Milford Haven, Fishguard, Barmouth, Abersoch, Aberdaron, Caernarfon, Menai Strait, Rhyll and Blackpool; before heading across Morecombe Bay to Ravenglas and Workington.  Finally, James headed across the Solway Firth to Kirkcudbright, the Isle of Whithorn, Mull of Galloway, Port Logan, Arran, Crinnan Canal, Oban, Appin, Fort William, Fort Augustus, Inverness, Spey Bay, Rattrey Head, Newtonhill (Aberdeen).. finally finishing in St Andrews today.

He said, “This trip has been a great privilege for the lone kayaker.  Complete strangers have offered much generosity and encouragement along the way.”

James, a member of the University Canoe Club, will be met in St Andrews by President of the Athletic Union, Sam Roberts.  He said, “James’ journey is a phenomenal achievement for someone who had, until recently, never set foot in a sea kayak.  His successful arrival in St Andrews is a testament to his irrepressible spirit of adventure and utter lunacy: two characteristic traits of the members of Saints adventure sports clubs.”


Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Press Officer on 01334 467227/462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected]
Ref: Royal Medal 120909

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