The Green Kayak Challenge
Two intrepid adventurers from Eastern Perthshire decided to take a home-made, 50-year old, untested green kayak down 52 miles the longest river in Scotland, the River Tay. Jane Wilkinson had just turned 50, so thought all the 50s were a sign and this would be a perfect challenge. Piotr Gudan, on the other hand, just likes mad challenges! These were all the ingredients for the Green Kayak Challenge.
On summer solstice 2017, Jane and Piotr started their epic adventure on the western shore of Loch Tay at 5 AM in the morning. Piotr had restored the kayak back to its original state, with a few very minor alterations to cope with the conditions. Even the paddles were original. Piotr is Polish and the boat was originally built by a Polish man in Alyth, and in The Barony, which is where Piotr runs his business Outdoor Explore from - spooky or just a lot of coincidences? Whatever it is, it's a great story, which is why we were keen to get involved. Unfortunately we couldn't film the whole challenge because we had been filming Mark Beaumont complete an epic 240 mile bike ride across Scotland the day before and didn't get home until the wee hours, so we joined Piotr and Jane at the 1/2 way point, at Grandtully.
Although not physically or mentally exhausting, the filming posed its own challenges with only myself filming and poor mobile phone reception. It would have been great to have had someone filming from a boat and the shore, and and drone footage - next time. However, I was restricted to the shore and bridging points. The added challenge was not knowing where Piotr and Jane were relative to me, because I was having to drive between filming points, so I was always left with that wonder - 'have they passed already?'. It wouldn't have been good to have been left on the banks while they were 5 miles down river. Despite them moving much quicker than I expected and the poor mobile reception, this never happened.
For much of the filming I had to use the 600 mm lens from points where I was far from the river bank, or from bridges and looking a long way back up river. I'm glad I had this lens because without it, Piotr and Jane would have been tiny dots in a giant landscape. We got some great shots with the gimbal running alongside the river and filming Jane and Piotr powering down the river. I tried focusing on little moments where you can see how difficult the challenge was, like the point where they got grounded, or where Piotr looks exhausted. Luckily we had a couple of actioncams, so Piotr was able to get some on-board footage, which really gave a sense of the speed they were travelling at and the enormity of the river.
We wished we'd been able to film the whole thing, right from the restoration of the boat, the preparation, training and then the actual event, to tell the full story. However, we managed to give a sense of the story and some of the highlights of the challenge. Piotr has more crazy challenges lined up, so if you fancy sponsoring future projects, so we can tell the full story, get in touch with Stefan at firstname.lastname@example.org