• Nomadic Paddler

World Record Success - #4lakes4days

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

I have had the privilege to visit Scotland on a few occasions, but never have I been into the Scottish highlands especially to take in the awe-inspiring scenery that surrounds you at every turn. It is no wonder this vast area is teemed with so much folklore and legend and the closer you get to Loch Awe, the more mysterious the land becomes as the mountains rise into the skies and the clouds roll down deep into the valleys.

For any adventurer preparation is key and like any, I did my research. Loch Awe is the longest lake in the UK, my first beast to tame and on the map it looks relatively narrow but nothing prepared me for the moment I first set eyes on the loch, not only was my breath taken away by the alluring view that bestowed me but the realisation of the true magnitude of what laid ahead hit me like a rogue wave on a calm ocean! Loch Awe was enormous but unknowingly this was not yet to be my biggest surprise of the trip.

After finding a secluded spot to park my camper van for the night and cook a deliciously juicy steak dinner, I bedded down for the night just as the heavens opened up to play a pounding unorchestrated symphony on the roof of the van with the rain from above…you’ve got to love Scotland.

Monday, 14th June and day 1 of my challenge. There was an eerie feel to Loch Awe that morning, despite the winds billowing around me there was a stillness that was unnerving and a apart from a lone fisherman sitting on the shore there was no one else to be seen. What laid ahead of me was an immense stretch of water, 40km long and at points unreachable from the shoreline if things were to go wrong.

At 8:15am, I entered the water at Torran Bay Hostel boat yard, put my paddle to the water and headed north to Kilchurn Castle. The isolation on that lake seemed quite euphoric to me, no matter where I looked there were no traces of human life. In that moment of time all that existed was my board, my surroundings and I. Despite the sheer beauty there were times I would glace at the shore line and have flash backs of the movie ‘Deliverance’, waiting to hear the sounds of a banjo echoing in the valley around me. To find yourself completely alone in the UK can be hard but there I was alone and hungry to achieve recording breaking success!

As the hours went by, the wind started to pick up in my favour but with gusts blowing ever so stronger at 25kph+. Waves were forming around me and the white horses were bucking at the tip of the waves. I dug deep and kept going, after 5 hours of battling to stand up right I could finally see Kilchurn Castle, a very welcomed site. Stroke after stoke I was getting close, with my muscles screaming at me, my goal was within reach and 5 hours, 27 minutes and 29 seconds I did it! A new world record,

I felt like a knight returning victorious from battle as I sat there by the castle standing over the loch, 1 down and 3 to go.

All I faced now was a 220 mile drive to the Lake Windermere….sounds straight forward right, not when your van goes into “limp mode” 30 miles away from your destination. It was gone past midnight when we finally hobbled into Lake Windermere and very much sleep deprived.

Despite a restless night parked on a slope, the morning view of beast number 2 was absolutely stunning, enough to reenergise the body and fulfil the soul. I have always adored the lake district and here I was once again, ready to attempt another world record.

However, we still had one challenge to over come and that was the issue of the van. If the RAC could not resolve this complication, then it was game over.

But this was my time, my time to fix my ways, my time to show that I am so much more than my past and my guardian angel, in the form of Richard from the RAC saved the day and boosted that craving to achieve success tenfold.

At 11:52 I entered Lake Windermere and the conditions were perfect. 2 hours, 31 minutes and 50 seconds of paddling and I had achieved my second world record. 2 for 2 and 2 to go.

Northern Ireland was my next stop after catching the overnight ferry from Liverpool to Belfast. Lough Neagh was the one I knew that was going to be most gruelling, even more so as “they” refer to it as the “Inland Sea”.

I had come to terms with this lake, prepared myself physically and mentally. Nothing was going to stop me, I owned Lough Neagh and world record number 3…until I met a sweet old Irish lady who decided to tell me the tales of the treacherous stories that haunt Lough Neagh.

The ever-changing weather system that sits on the Lough, the lost fisher men, the beasts below and the 9 foots waves, but again preparation is key.

After being granted a safe passage across the Irish Sea, I sat upon the shoreline of Lough Neagh and I was astounded by the sheer size of water that was laid out in front me, with nothing in the horizon to give me a point of reference I could start to see why some people would believe the world is flat.

At 9:48, I entered the Lough and followed the coordinates on my GPS, constantly watching the weather and waving good bye to the land as I paddled deeper into the heart of Lough Neagh with nothing around me apart from water as far as the eye could see.

It could have been the lack of sleep but I am sure there were creatures coming up from the deep lurking around me with dubious curiosity as I could hear water braking from all angles behind me. The further I got into the lough, the water continuously changed on me, becoming more of a struggle. The skies grew darker, the waves started rolling and the bow of my board was diving into the water. I now realised why it is referred to as an inland sea and all I could think about were the stories of the “sweet” old lady from the night before.

After fighting a good fight out there alone and unaided I could see my finish line, a destination that seemed to never get closer despite my desperate attempts to paddle faster but after 5 hours and 11 minutes and 15 seconds of paddling I had done it. World record number 3, the most SUP world records held by one person and one to go.

As I waited for the boat to take me back to Liverpool, I enjoyed a celebratory Guinness and in that moment I realised what I has achieved thus far, the proudest moment of my life, I could have quit and still be happy but I made a vow.

No longer can I be a quitter and no longer can I take the easy why out. Looking for the quick fix, never got me anywhere in life. Hard work and determination is what it is all about now and I was there to prove it to myself.

I am much more than my mistakes, more than may past, I am a changed man, a man with a fire in his belly and with that fire I got on the ferry and took my aching tired body to my fourth and final lake.

Thursday 17th June, Bala lake. I couldn’t have asked for conditions more perfect, the water literally was as calm as a June’s day with the surrounding mountains reflecting off the surface like a freshly polished mirror.

Nothing was going to stop me, with the fire still roaring in me, I was an indestructible machine and with that I entered the water at 10:04, head down and in the zone. Stroke after stoke, 6 to my left to 6 right, repeat, I was flying. Due to the length of the lake the challenge was to get to the end and back, I have no idea where the energy came from but noting was stopping me and with each passing stroke I was getting closer to achieving something I once thought and told would be impossible and after 1 hour, 30 minutes and 18 seconds I had achieved my fourth and final world record. 4 days, 4 lakes, 4 countries and 4 world records!

Dreams can come true and for me this is the start of something much larger, the start of it all. As in September I will be paddle boarding the River Thames non-stop, 208km of constant paddling and hopefully 1 more world record but I am also attempting to try and take this lake campaign and roll out it onto the longest lake in ever European country.

I hope that my challenge can ignite a sense of adventure in someone else but more importantly I hope it inspires others to never let go of their dreams despite what others say. If you have a vision, then commit to it, give it your all and do not let outside factors stop you.

The only thing that will hold you back in life is yourself and my whole life I have done just this, but no longer.

So be kind to yourself, love one another and support those who may be struggling.

- David Haze (Nomadic Paddler)

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