I’ve been doing quite a few Whisky Fireside Chats on Zoom during the pandemic, but none have left me more speechless than my interview with Colin Skeath. In 2017, he and his nephew, Davis Gould-Duff, were the first to paddle an open canoe around the U.K. What an insane, inspirational, incredible canoe voyage.

What really kept me gasping most of the time is the relaxed pace in which Colin answered my questions.

Kevin: “Was it difficult?”

Colin: “Yes, but not really.”

Kevin: “Did you flip the canoe anytime during the trip?”

Colin: “Yes, several times. but we managed.”

Kevin: “Were there any moments when you or your nephew wanted to give up?”

Colin: “No. Never!” 

photoColin Skeath

Colin and Davis travelled clockwise, using a combination of tidal flow, sail power and paddling to tackle the variety of conditions across the three months. Amazing. However, the most notable point of my interview is when Colin tells me that he, and especially his nephew, had little-to-no canoe experience prior to the trip; yet they completed something that no other canoeist had ever done. I was gob-smacked to say the least.

I guess it proves that such great outdoor expeditions are more mind over matter, more mental than physical.

Of course, they weren’t complete greenhorns travelling in the wilds. Both Colin and Davis had completed quite a few other previous outdoor adventures. As climbers, they've bagged places all over the U.K. as well as Europe, Africa and America. Their most notable joint climbing venture was an epic nine-day ascent of Muir Wall on El Capitan in 2010.

Climbing known peaks is one thing, however. Being the first to canoe around the entire U.K. with only a few paddle trips under your belt is another. photoColin Skeath

Or is it? Colin’s passion towards climbing switched in 2010 to paddling—a different process but the same reason to be out there. Call it obsessive behaviour, call it over the top type A personality, call it a police officer who retired after 30 years and couldn’t sit still . . . it doesn’t matter. Colin (and his nephew) set out on an impressive adventure and enjoyed it! Even rejoiced in it. That’s just awesome!

Colin wrote about the U.K. circumnavigation. His book, released this past May, is titled Only Fools & White Horses. It’s a riveting read.

Check out the interview. You won’t be disappointed…and you’ll likely be speechless!