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Endurance crossing from Sutherland to Lewis across The Minch was success


By Mike Merritt

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Charlie Head arriving in Durness. Picture: Fiona Burnett
Charlie Head arriving in Durness. Picture: Fiona Burnett

An endurance athlete has successfully paddle boarded across between Sutherland and the Outer Hebrides to raise awareness of mental health.

Charlie Head (41) set off from Stoer and covered the 73.5km to Lemreway on Lewis in over 18 hours last week. He has already paddle boarded up Scotland’s east and north coasts and made the detour to the Hebrides on his south-bound track.

His aim is to raise money for the Dare2express charity which supports people struggling with mental health issues.

Since September, he has paddled from Berwick to John O’Groats, through the Pentland Firth and around Cape Wrath.

During his circumnavigation, Charlie took on a first-of-a-kind Moray Firth crossing from Rosehearty on the Moray coast to Wick in November. The extreme challenge called as much on Charlie’s mental strength as his physical attributes, carrying all his own supplies and equipment, paddling non-stop for 24 hours in extreme winter temperatures, through two wind farms and 15 hours of darkness. He conceived the expedition as a social experiment, going solo and unsupported forcing him to ask for help from strangers. He says his motivation to undertake big sea crossings is “because it hasn’t been done”.

“I’m driven to find my limits, and it’s meditative for me. You feel more alive out on the water – it’s about surviving, pushing yourself and seeing what you can achieve.

“Living and coping with mental illness is emotionally darker and colder than the North Sea could ever be. It’s me fighting back and a testament to my belief in people and community being worth the physical discomfort.”

Dare2express (www.dare2express.org) offers grants to those who need financial assistance to access mental health services and also provides access to private, safe, non-judgemental forums.

To follow his journey visit share.garmin.com/charliehead.

Related news: Stoer start for ultra paddleboarder Charlie Head's Minch attempt


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