IN a dinghy smaller that two bathtubs, adventurer Ken Fowler has finished his epic journey from Lands End in aid of charity in a month.
However, he can not claim the record for doing the challenge in the fastest ever time as wind forced him to finish 40 miles from his target, leaving him having to drive the remaining distance to John O’Groats with his boat RS Aero behind him.
But he was still delighted with his effort in the ‘Length of Britain Challenge’ sailing single-handed for around 900 miles as he has so far raised over £25,000 for Cancer Research and Oakhaven Hospice.
Setting off on 7 May, he spent 10 hours a day on the boat and arrived at his final destination on Tuesday morning.
Ken, a 51 year old air traffic controller who lives in Mudeford near Bournemouth, said: “I walk away from this adventure with happy memories of amazing people and stunning places. A month well lived, for which I am eternally grateful.”
He added: “The idea for “Race To Scotland” came from a series of events which date back to a sad time in my life some 27 years ago, when my father died of cancer. He was one of six siblings – five of whom died from cancer.
“I only learnt after his death that, when relatively young, he had come home to discover his mother had gassed herself in their kitchen because she had been diagnosed with breast cancer when such a diagnosis was generally a death sentence.”
He has undertaken a number of cycling challenges over the years for charity, but this time decided to go on water.
He was greeted by Scottish hosts including local MSP Gail Ross, Sail Scotland chief executive Daniel Steel and Martin Murray, managing director of principal sponsors Rock Rose Gin.
Along the way he has taken on the third largest whirlpool in the world at Corryvreckan, shared hours with seal and dolphins flanking the boat, been showered in sunshine and battered by wind and rain.
Rounding Cape Wrath at the north-western corner of Scotland, over the weekend he prepared for the final push on what he described as “a roller coaster journey”.
The clock started on Ken’s sail back on 7 May when official timing partner Kennett timepieces started his challenge on the southern tip of England. Since then, he has had an incredible journey from south to north along the west coast of the UK.
At the finish, a tired and emotional Ken was presented with a stunning Kennett Challenger Chronograph watch and a bottle of award-winning craft gin, Rock Rose, from the Dunnet Bay Distillery at the most northerly point on the UK mainland.
Daniel Steel, of Sail Scotland, who developed the Length of Britain Challenge said: “Ken has shown relentless energy, taking on the weather and tidal conditions to reach the north coast of Scotland over the past month.
“And he has been rewarded with memories that I’m sure will last a lifetime, from wildlife and remote islands to white sandy beaches and towering cliffs, he has shown that the Length of Britain Challenge can be taken on in any vessel if you have a true passion for adventure.”
Martin Murray, founder of Rock Rose Gin, said: “We are delighted to cheer Ken into Caithness. His voyage has been a fantastic achievement for two great charities. We’ll be giving him a thoroughly deserved gin.”
Gail Ross, MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, added: “To undertake this journey in any type of boat is no mean feat but to do it in a dinghy that weighs as little as an average sized dog is quite incredible.
“Ken Fowler has done an amazing job, experiencing some of the worst that the sea has to offer including whirlpools and ferocious tides.
“He also had some amazing encounters with dolphins and witnessed some incredible scenery.
“To see him at the end of his journey, safe and well and in great spirits in John O’Groats is great. Ken has also done a fantastic job in raising tens of thousands of pounds for cancer research and care during his time at sea. I wish him well in any future venture he undertakes.”