The Improbable Blog


It’s been over a year since I attempted to row from Lands End to John O Groats in a Chamberlain designed Dory Skiff (think, the type of boat you take out on a lake for a picnic). 4 days into the trip I nearly drowned in St Ives bay before washing up on the beach amongst some confused kite surfers. The coastguard dispatched four rescuers to come and give me a decent dressing down. They carried my boat, Lucy, up above the waterline and asked me a series of questions to test my knowledge of rowing at sea (or rowing in general!) and then they told me not to go out on the water again. The next day I went out again, became submerged and was towed back to Hayle harbor by the assistant harbor master, Ben, lovely chap!

Day 1, Lucy and Robin in Cornwall

For the next 2 weeks I waited for a weather window to carry on with my trip, but it was clear that I was not going to get it (I should have left in June! I should have done a lot of things!) and so I reluctantly accepted my sister’s offer to collect my boat so that I could carry on by foot. 10 miles outside of Hayle, my boat trailer fell to pieces, almost causing my sister to have a catastrophic car accident. 

Stuck in Hayle, I searched relentlessly for a new trailer or a solution to moving Lucy back home while I carried on by foot, my budget was spiraling and all the quotes I received for trailers or haulage were ‘trip ending’ amounts. Eventually a courier took the measurements and found that Lucy would fit in the back of a long cab Mercedes sprinter and I paid him £150 to take her back to Oxford while I packed a hiking bag (badly) and prepared to carry on by foot up the South West coast path and beyond.

No longer welcome in Falmouth

Exactly 3 months after I began, I arrived at John O Groats and realised that this was far from over.

In terms of distance, I was only half way.

In terms of my original plan, I had failed.

In terms of rowing, I went straight from someone that had never rowed before to a laughing stock.

On top of all of this, I had no job, nowhere to live and dwindling finances. I had started this trip expecting to find answers.

Fucking millenials ey?

John O Groats 2021

I hired a car, drove back down the country and saw that an outdoors shop in Cumbria was hiring part-time sales assistants. My dad lives locally with his partner, they agreed to let me stay with them while I got back on my feet, I bought a second hand bike, joined a gym and began thinking about who I was meant to be now. At 32 years old, I was broke, single, living with my dad and had gone from a semi-successful career as an actor, to a high-level management role in a tech start-up, to a part-time sales assistant at an outdoors shop in a county that I hadn’t lived in for 15 years.

Then again I did set out to have an adventure!

Ullswater 2022

Yesterday I ordered my next boat – an Expedition Wherry (think, the type of boat that will get me from Lands end to John O Groats in 2023).

Next I have to build it.

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