The Great Glen – A Great Team – Fix Parkinson's

When it comes to jumping or should I say falling in at the deep end there’s no better team than Team Fix.

We had decided to paddle 65 miles in open top canoes across Scotland from Fort William to Inverness, the Great Glen. Start date 23rd May 2013. We were to wild camp which meant we had to carry all of our equipment. The canoes were heavy but sat nicely in the water.

One week prior. I had had what I considered to be a brilliant idea… ‘why don’t we hire some canoes to see if we can generate some forward motion?’ That objective was met but there were other lessons learned on that day. If it’s windy and the total experience of both paddlers is less than 10 minutes there is a high possibility of capsizing. Now I’m not one that points the finger of blame but the capsizing had nothing to do with me.

So the canoe was upside down and we were in the River Tees. Fortunately our instructor was there to give us some valuable information and encouragement in the form of ‘keep hold of your paddle, you are no good to any one if you don’t have a paddle’ – Excellent advice.

The day came and we set off paddling from Fort William, heading in an easterly direction. This was to make the most of the usual tail wind. The wind decided to blow westerly on our first day. Head on. If you stopped paddling the canoe would almost instantly start to move with the wind, backwards. The first mile was very tough. I was shattered with 64 miles to go. I had been training for this for three months in a local gym with a trainer and I was exhausted – Had my PD got me? Fortunately everyone was in the same boat (apologies) and all of the training did pay off, more importantly it had nothing to do with PD.

The trip was one of the most memorable things I have ever done. The scenery was spectacular. Our busy lives prevent us from really appreciating our surroundings. On day three of the trip, I was up early and I was joined by one of the team. We stood side by side in absolute silence looking out over the loch which looked like glass, until he said ‘I’m pleased you have Parkinson’s’. I knew exactly what he meant.

I have to mention Loch Ness. 40km, one day, straight down the middle of the loch. When the waves coincided with the wake of a passing boat, we had water in the boat. Water in the boat is a little worrying and when I saw my emergency pack of snickers float to the front of the canoe things started to become serious. Fortunately we made it to a headland and emptied the boat. The snickers were recovered.

Day 5 was a short day. We had made it. 65 miles of lochs and canals. An adventure of a life time
I must conclude by talking a little about the team. They are an amazing bunch. The support they give me and encouragement to keep going is humbling. I am very fortunate to have such a great group. Thanks to all of you. We are, we can, we will FixParkinsons.

Simon Laverick