Hamish paddles around Ireland

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Meet the local teenager who is kayaking solo around Ireland.

Hamish Wilkinson, from the outskirts of Castlerock, is aiming to be the youngest ever kayaker to complete the trip in a traditional style kayak.

Paddling over 1200 miles, Hamish set off from Portrush on June 28, and he is hoping to complete his tour of Ireland and return to Portrush harbour on August 17.

This week, Times journalist Nichola Neill spoke to Hamish’s father John about his son’s trip and about his traditional boat, which was built by the pair at their workshop.

“Hamish has been canoeing a very long time,” explained John.

“Over the past few years he has competed at different events and met different Irish canoeists who have taken on different expeditions – I guess he has taken a lot of inspiration from them,” said proud father John.

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

Known as a selkie, the boat is a Greenland -style Kayak built along traditional lines with a higher than normal volume to make it an expedition boat.

With a wooden frame, held together with waxed sinuous thread, wooden dowels and mortise-and-tenon joints, John points out that other than some brass and bronze fixings to hold on the boat’s ballistic nylon ‘skin’, and marine varnish to make the skin watertight, the selkie has no metal screws or fastening, modern glues or adhesives.

On his journey, Hamish has invited canoeists along his route to join him.

But dad John explained that Hamish is hoping to do most of the paddle himself.

“He is keen to do most of it himself.

“He has had a few problems with waterproofs and a few broken tent poles, but so far no problems with his mode of transport.

“Tides and wind have been an issue, but that’s something that we can do nothing about.”

So why did Hamish want to complete the trip in a traditional boat.

“His trip is a personal challenge,” told dad John.

“A vote of confidence in traditional design and craft, plus a sight seeing tour of a beautiful island.”

Thanks to a tracking device on his canoe and a mobile phone, Hamish has been able to keen in touch with his family back in Castlerock updating them on the trials and tribulations of his journey.

Hamish is also writing a blog as he progresses around Ireland to update his followers.

On July 20, Hamish reported: ‘On the physical front, I am feeling pretty good –long days are certainly easier now than they were a few weeks ago.

“However. I have had a couple of minor problems – backache, blisters and sore knees being part of the expedition package.

‘The weather in the main has been kind –hopefully it will stay that way!

“Prevailing winds should be giving me a hand once I round Mizen Head anyway, and I can finally enjoy some tail winds.’

Followers will also see beautiful pictures of the Irish coastline that Hamish has been paddling past and a few pictures of his hands covered in blisters!

The teenager has elected to support two charities on his expedition – Greenpeace and Action Cancer, you can visit his just giving page if you wish to make a donation.

Why not follow Hamish on his journey – visit his Facebook page.