Castlerock teenager Hamish completes kayak around Ireland

Hamish Wilkinson (19) from Castlerock who completed a solo kayak around Ireland
Hamish Wilkinson (19) from Castlerock who completed a solo kayak around Ireland
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After 52 days paddling in the open water - Castlerock teenager Hamish Wilkinson has become the youngest ever kayaker to paddle around Ireland.

The 19-year-old, who is currently on a gap year, completed his expedition last week.

Hamish Wilkinson is greeted with friends and family at Portrush Harbour following his solo kayak expedition around Ireland. INCR38-120(s)

Hamish Wilkinson is greeted with friends and family at Portrush Harbour following his solo kayak expedition around Ireland. INCR38-120(s)

“It’s good to be home,” said Hamish who lives on the outskirts of Castlerock.

“I was paddling for 52 days, but actually away from home for 72 days - so it’s a bit odd to be back to normality,” told Hamish.

Paddling over 1200 miles, Hamish set off from Portrush on June 28.

The teenager elected to support two charities on his expedition – Greenpeace and Action Cancer, and so far he’s managed to raise £1,000.

“I’m delighted with the total so far,” said Hamish.

“People can still donate through my just giving page, I would like to raise as much as I can.”

Hamish’s father, John runs local business Valkyrie Craft making traditional hand built wooden canoes and paddles, and the boat that Hamish travelled in was made by him and his father in just six weeks.

Not content with the challenge of paddling, Hamish was able to write a blog during his journey updating followers on his progress.

A tracking device on the canoe enabled followers to find out Hamish’s exact location.

Speaking about the journey Hamish said that the wildlife he saw along the journey will be something he will never forget.

“I’m really pleased to get the expedition over and done with, I have plans for something else, but I just have to see how the bank balance is,” he joked.

“I’m thinking maybe Iceland, but as yet nothing has been finalised.

“I experienced some great sights along my journey, the views around Dingle were particularly good, but it is the wildlife that I met along the way that I will never forget. Porpoises, dolphins, basking sharks - to be so close to them on the open water was unforgettable.

“They were as intrigued by me as I was by them, and I even managed to get a few photos.”

Hamish’s arrival in Portrush last week, was a few days later than planned due to bad weather, but Hamish recalled the moment his journey ended.

“There was a fair few people waiting at Portrush Harbour on me, it was great that so many came out to welcome me home.

“I wasn’t expecting so many. I have to say I was glad to see a coastline I recognised - that’s how I knew I was home.”

Taking some time out to rest, Hamish says he will start thinking about his next challenge in a few months time.