Firefighters kayak Leeds and Liverpool Canal for charity

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Wendy FinlayMulligan, Simon Fryer, Chris Waring, Vikki Bassek, Phil Jones, Karen Lowe, Jenny Nangle
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Wendy FinlayMulligan, Simon Fryer, Chris Waring, Vikki Bassek, Phil Jones, Karen Lowe, Jenny Nangle

A pair of firefighters proved that water really is their friend with an epic kayak down the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

Burnley colleagues Simon Fryer and Phil Jones completed their tandem kayak the full 128 miles of the canal in just two days, raising £3,600 for the Firefighters’ Charity and Pendleside Hospice.

But it was not a case of “messing about on boats” for the pair who trained hard for the challenge.

Simon said: “The canal has more than 90 locks, each of which involves getting out of the kayak and carrying it around the locks before getting back in.

“Some of the locks, such as the Wigan Staircase which is two miles long, involve long walks with the kayak.”

The second day of the journey started after just four hours sleep from Blackburn to Liverpool.

Simon added: “Day two started at 5-45am. We were like zombies for the first hour.

“We couldn’t synchronise our paddle strokes which made for slow and frustrating progress.

“Fortunately the locks at Blackburn gave us an opportunity to have a ‘word with ourselves’ before getting back in the water and getting organised.”

Phil described this stretch as “by far our darkest hour”.

Friends and family provided support throughout the day, bringing food and walking or cycling alongside the pair, to raise their spirits and keep them motivated.

This proved important as the day wore on as the pair began to suffer with fatigue but were determined to complete the challenge that they had set themselves.

They finally arrived in Liverpool at 10pm on the second day – some 16 hours and 15 minutes after setting out from Blackburn 56 miles away.

The entire journey took just under 37 hours meaning the pals completed it within the 48 hours as they hoped to do, with hours to spare.