An interview with Roy Beal

The Top Down Kayak Challenge is an undertaking of monumental adventure. In what is believed to be the first attempt to kayak from ‘top to bottom’ of the country, I’d like to introduce you to Roy Beal, the man behind the paddle.

He’s the founder of Clean Jurassic Coast a not-for-profit Community Interest Company that removes plastic and other litter from the beautiful Jurassic coastline. During the Top Down 900-mile challenge, Roy aims to raise awareness of plastic pollution along the coastline and promote outdoor pursuit safety as well as raise money for charity.

At the time of this interview, I was sitting with Roy in the far north of Scotland after the first leg of his trip from John O’Groats to Wick Harbour.

LP: So, Roy, let’s get some backstory. How did you get into kayaking?

RB: I used to kayak when I was a young teen but once I started working, I neglected it for about 30 years until I moved to a seaside town. I reignited the passion and swiftly discovered the joys of sea kayaking in 2013 and haven’t stopped since.

LP: What is your longest kayak expedition?

RB: In 2016 I kayaked from Tower Bridge in London to Seaton in East Devon, roughly 360 miles over three weeks.

LP: What made you decide to go from the top down?

RB: I like to be different. Other similar kayak trips have been with the prevailing south-westerly winds from Lands End, all my previous expeditions have been against those winds. I like a challenge.

LP: Who have you got supporting you?

RB: My girlfriend Sarah is following with the campervan for the first week or so. Some friends will be around too, along with my aunt and uncle, Ange and Chris, who will likely be following for three weeks, then I’ll be on my own, although others will be meeting me along the way.

LP: When do you predict to finish?

RB: Hopefully in early July but we’ll have to see how it goes with the weather.

LP: What has been the best part of the journey so far albeit being the first leg of the journey?

RB: I’ve been planning this for well over a year so it is great to finally be on the water. There were many highlights from the first day but my favourite has to be finally seeing puffins in action.

LP: Where do you look forward to visiting?

RB: That is a good question. There are so many places – Loch Ness, the Inner Hebrides, Isle of Arran… it’s a long list.

LP: Anything else you would like to add?

RB: I would like to thank Keep Britain Tidy and Plan B Charity for their support, Ocean Signal Limited for their Personal Locator Beacon and Electronic Flare and PB Adventures for supplying my expedition food. I would also like to thank everybody for the fantastic support I’ve had so far.