Walking, paddling & driving in Scotland

The narrow highway is flanked by a pair of mist-shrouded mountains. Hairpin turns descend to the head of a long freshwater loch. As we pull over to behold the view down the glen, sunlight glistens off a rainbow and the soaring drone of bagpipes comes on the radio, which is tuned to BBC Gaelic, one…

River race

I’ve always been a solo traveller. Whether walking, running, cross-country skiing or paddling, I typically prefer being out in nature alone with my thoughts. As the English novelist and journalist Will Self once said, “I walk in order to somatically medicate myself against the psychosis of contemporary urban living.” Ditto, for me, for other forms…

Spring paddling lessons, part II

After last weekend’s cold immersion into the new paddling season, my second outing of the spring — a post-work, pre-storm run down the Rideau River from my office in the Canada-India Centre on the campus of Carleton University to Stanley Park in New Edinburgh — was a little more successful. It started with a blessing…

Spring paddling lessons

I talked to the wind last weekend. And learned a couple of important lessons, too. But before we get to those, let me backtrack a few weeks, when I went to Ottawa’s top paddling shop, Trailhead Paddle Shack, and I picked up a new 12-foot, 6-inch inflatable touring stand-up paddleboard from Starboard. Eager to try my…

Boarding in Belize

“A steady easterly is blowing me away from South Water Caye, a small tropical island on the crest of Belize’s Southern Barrier Reef. I drive my blade into the turquoise water and propel my 12-and-a-half-foot-long stand-up paddleboard forward, aiming for a green smudge on the horizon….” It’s been nearly nine months, but my stand up paddleboarding…

I would walk 500 miles …

… although, with all due respect to the Proclaimers and the catchy 1988 hit from one of Scotland’s favourite bands, not to mention my obsesson with all things ambulatory, driving 500 miles is a lot easier. Especially if the route in question is the North Coast 500 — a circuit at the top of Scotland…

Running the Rideau

It was Race Weekend in Ottawa this past Saturday, an annual running extravaganza built around a marathon and several shorter distance races, but even though I love running, I opted for a solo — and longer — adventure. On Saturday morning, I took a VIA train to Smiths Falls, about 50 minutes south of the…

Walking on water

When I got my first stand up paddle board last August — an inflatable from Ottawa-based Level Six via MEC — the water in the city’s Rideau River was already fairly low. It would have been impossible to paddle from the put-in spot near my house to the terminus, where it tumbles into the Ottawa River, without scraping along…