The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

‘I had to go with my gut but at times I thought: Am I going to die here?


Ed Ley-Wilson has kayaked across serene and stunning seascapes in Norway and Patagonia but says nothing compares to paddling along the Highland and island coastlines of western Scotland.

Having lived and worked in the Scottish Highlands for 40 years, Ed was keen to explore his homeland from adifferent perspectiv­e.

Last summer, he set out on an ambitious solo sea-kayaking adventure from Gourock, near Glasgow, along nearly 1,000km of coastline to Kinlochber­vie in the north-west Highlands.

A seasoned kayaker, Ed started at 19 and has paddled above the Arctic Circle in Norway and through Patagonia. Yet this was his longest solo sea-kayaking challenge, lasting 56 days.

“I’ve paddled all over the world but this is still the best place with its mix of mountains, islands and communitie­s,” said 59-year-old Ed, from Inverness. “There was a time when the sea was the only way to travel the Highlands and reach some of our remotest communitie­s. Paddling is a great way of exploring this part of the Highlands.”

In his new book, Kayaking The Sea Roads, Ed recounts not only the wonder of sea kayaking but also the isolation and fear when left to navigate the often unpredicta­ble waters around Scotland.

“It was wet and windy the entire trip,” he said, “which was exciting as the seas were big but it also meant decisions about paddling further out around a headland were marginal.

“I had to go with my gut and there were times I wondered, am I going to die here or make the right call? I made the wrong call at Towhead off Harris when I had to power through a huge swell and was metaphoric­ally and physically

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