Lizzie Carr: Super SUP EnglandFrom The Field
Lizzie Carr is about to embark on a challenge to paddle board the length of England via its connected waterways, some 400 miles. We caught up with Lizzie just before she left.
Where are you right now, and how do you feel before your challenge?
I’m at home making final preparations and trying to organise myself but there’s always something else do to! It’s difficult to prepare for adventures as they can be so unpredictable but mentally I try to play out the worst case scenarios. I think physical preparation is slightly easier as there’s more defined goals to work towards. My focus has been to develop the strength to handle my own body weight – I’ve been pushing my body to the limits of its capabilities and feel much stronger for it – it’s quite an empowering process.
Why did you decide to do this challenge? How did the idea come about?
There’s immense power in seeing something in an entirely new way and sharing it to make a positive change. That’s the idea behind Super SUP England – showing the waterways from a different perspective to challenge the perception people have of the waterways. They are iconic pieces of history that aren’t going anywhere so it’s important that we treasure them as a presence of nature and calm in often dense, urban places – and that means protecting them from threats like plastic pollution.
What do you hope to achieve? What is the key aim?
It’s an adventure designed to highlight an environmental issue that affects us all. I want to show that adventure in the UK is as challenging, unpredictable and fun as anywhere in the world and prove there are still adventures on our doorsteps waiting for everyone – irrespective of experience and fitness. Beyond that it’s about encouraging people to re-connect with our waterways – if there’s a stronger affinity with the canals it can only have a positive knock on effect environmentally.
What do you think the biggest challenges will be?
There are 193 locks throughout the route so portaging those is going to be physically demanding. Mentally, paddling for several hours a day can get quite lonely and over a few weeks that will be tough.
Which parts are you most looking forward to do?
I’m honestly looking forward to all of it – what an adventure! But, if I had to pick one section it would be the Ribble Link. It’s the first time a paddle boarder has been granted access to pass through so it’s a real breakthrough for the sport in the UK. It feels like a positive step to opening the waterways up to more people and encourage more meaningful uses of it which can only be a good thing.
Any unexpected item will you be taking with you?
Nothing unexpected – I’m trying to pack light so very little in the way of luxuries. I do have some Jerky from Top Herd – it’s a great energy snack, and I’ve made space for some dry shampoo too.
To someone hoping to embark on their own expedition, what advice would you offer?
Don’t overthink it. If you want to do it then make a statement that means you commit, like booking a flight or something of equal proportion. That’s the hardest bit – you’ll then be able to make the rest work.