A former soldier who is raising money to build a school for child refugees has paddle boarded his way through Loch Alsh this week as part of a world record attempt to circumnavigate Great Britain.
Jordan Wylie passed by the Skye Bridge on Tuesday morning on the latest leg of his Great British Paddle 2020 challenge.
He is hoping to raise £100,000 to complete the build of a school in Djibouti for children that have been displaced by conflict and war in neighbouring countries including Yemen and Somalia.
Jordan, who is also one of the stars of the Channel 4 award-winning TV shows ‘Hunted’ and ‘Celebrity Hunted’ has paddled over 1,800 kilometres since he set off from Essex Marina at Wallasea Island over 100 days ago on the 26th July.
Speaking to the Free Press earlier this week, Jordan said: “I’m about 70 kilometres short of the Skye Bridge – in Loch Alsh – the wind is very strong today, so I am on the support boat at the moment.
“I would call the west coast of Scotland and the area that we are in brutally beautiful.
“It is very spectacular. To be honest, even as an Englishman, I would have to say it is the nicest part of the UK I have come across, but it is absolutely brutal in terms of the weather, the tide and the wind as we go into winter. I am absolutely amazed, it is like paddling through a postcard every day!”
Jordan is supported by a team of experienced professionals on both land and at sea, including a support boat skippered by captain Max Rivers and crewed by first mate Tori Wells and Glasgow filmmaker Alfie Marsh.
Outlining the sheer difficulty of the conditions around the west coast of Scotland, he said: “There have been lots of tough challenges going round some of the big headlands, crossing over from Northern Ireland to Campbeltown, but I think the brutality of the Scottish weather is starting to kick in now as we get stronger winds and faster tides.”
Commenting on his motivation for the challenge, he said: “It is for a charity called Frontline Children, I am a former soldier and was in the army for 10 years.
“One of the things that stood out to me in conflict and war zones was the plight of children. For me, children are the ultimate innocent victims of war and I have always said if I could do something to help children in these circumstances I would love to.
“We are trying to build a school on the Horn of Africa for child refugees affected by the conflict in Yemen. So that’s our mission at the moment — we have raised £22,000 so far, but my target is £100,000 for the expedition.”
Jordan said that while the harsh conditions in the region had proven tough to contend with, the warmth of the support locally and the natural beauty more than made up for it.
“We obviously live at sea because of Covid, we don’t go ashore, but we have had a great morale boost in the last week from Caledonian MacBrayne ferries,” he said.
“Every time I have paddled past these huge ferries they have given me a honk of the horn, and the officers have come out and waved and cheered me — it may be a small thing but it helps you push on after six hours of paddling.”
He added: “The wildlife in Scotland has been amazing, we have seen loads of dolphin pods, lots of seals, ospreys off the Isle of Mull, I have not seen the magical orcas yet — but I am still hopeful!”
While two people have previously paddle boarded from Land’s End to John O’Groats by inland waterways, no one has to date achieved the feat by the open sea.
“People told me that it is impossible to get around this part of the UK on a paddle board, so a lot of people are watching closely and hopefully we can prove that you can do it with some patience and determination,” said Jordan.
Weather permitting, Jordan’s aim was to reach the Ullapool area on Thursday with his next big target being John O’Groats before Christmas Eve.
If you would like to support Jordan or follow his progress, see www.thegreatbritishpaddle.com