Canoeing 125 miles (200 km) through the countryside, running 76 locks and weirs plus coping with blisters, heatstroke, psychotic swans and drunken pleasure boat owners may not be everyone’s idea of fun. But for around 600 committed “paddlers”, such is the unique appeal of the Devizes to Westminster international canoe race, held every Easter holiday weekend.
Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, it was conceived some 60 years ago as a bet in a pub near Devizes, Wiltshire.
Two scouts doubted whether it would be possible to navigate the then derelict Kennet and Avon canal and the Thames all the way to London and thus another seemingly foolhardy venture was born. Continue reading