The achievement of canoeing the entire length of the Caledonian Canal is being celebrated by a group of young people from the Lancaster and Morecambe area.
The Lancaster-based charity, Lancashire Youth Challenge (LYC), organised the arduous journey as part of its work with young people across the county and it was funded by Moto In The Community, the Areti Charitable Trust, Francis C Scott Charitable Trust and Rock FM charity, Cash For Kids.
The Caledonian Canal Challenge involved the group spending six to nine hours a day on the water, sometimes battling wild Scottish weather conditions, to complete the 60 mile stretch. Many of the young people never thought they would ever have the chance to take part in a challenge of this scale as some are young carers, others have faced difficulties in mainstream education, have family complexities or are affected by the low socio-economic status of their area.
LYC Project Co-ordinator, Sana Patel, said: “It’s important to recognise that many of the young people had a fear of water and were anxious that they might not achieve what they set out to do.The most incredible thing was that each young person completed the challenge despite their fears and really got stuck in and overcame a lot.
“This experience has given many of them the confidence to believe in themselves and their abilities and see aspects of themselves they never had to chance to discover before this challenge.” One of the young people involved described LYC as the family they never where everyone looked out for each other.
LYC works with more than 50 young people aged 13-25 annually through their year-round programme of physical, cultural and creative activities. Fifteen young people then put themselves forward or are selected to take part in the Big Annual Challenge.
In preparation for taking on the Caledonian Canal Challenge, the group also attended a residential weekend at Ormside Mill in Cumbria; took part in fitness sessions and cooking classes to help maintain a healthy and nutritious diet to fuel their bodies for exercise.
Previous LYC challenges have included the National Three Peaks, a Lancaster to Edinburgh cycle ride, the Yorkshire Three Peaks and cycling from the Tower of London to the Eiffel Tower.