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  • the width or the length of Loch Etchachan The original plan had been to swim the width as the only information I had previously found about the loch Expedition to Loch Etchachan by Alan Sinclair had mentioned that the loch was around 600m and that looked to be the width I didn t know how long it was Dennis got his map out and did a quick calculation He approximated that it was just over 800m What the heck in for a penny in for a pound I decided I d do the length Deano on a recce photo courtesy of Dennis Underwood In 2011 I had come up to Loch Etchachan but had failed to swim very far as the water temperature was only 6 C with an air temperature of 4 C This time I was determined to swim the loch whatever the temperature so as well as my swimming shorts I had also brought some neoprene trousers and a rash vest One way or another I was going do this swim Deano Dennis head back to the start point One of the problems with doing open water swimming when you are registered blind is that you can t see where you are going I tend to pull off to one side and could end up going around and around in circles So to prevent this I need a guide and my guide needs some transport That is where the lovely folk at Alpackaraft came to our rescue and very kindly loaned us one of their packrafts These are fantastic little inflatable boats that pack down really small and along with the paddles only weigh around 3kg Without this piece of kit the swim would have been impossible for me Whilst Rhona inflated the Alpackaraft I took the temperature of the shallow water remembering that the last time I had been here the water was a freezing 6 C Luckily on this day the air temperature was a balmy 13 C and the water was a cool 10 C I was aware that this was in very shallow water and further out into the loch the temperature could drop as much as 2 or 3 degrees After a quick internal discussion I decided the neoprene kit would remain in my bag and I would do the swim in my swimming shorts and cap Rhona in the Alpackaraft photo courtesy of Dennis Underwood Within a few minutes of this decision Rhona was sat in the Alpackaraft and I was changed Rhona got me lined up in the direction of where I needed to swim and I stepped into the loch I waded out to around thigh depth and then dived under The water was definitely cold but I had been in colder As I came to the surface my right arm came over and I was off Deano about to go in photo courtesy of Dennis Underwood The first two minutes were spent getting my stroke speed right and

    Original URL path: http://www.extremedreams.co.uk/index.php/Extremedreams/Swimming_Location_X_aka_Loch_Etchachan_2012/xsid/84 (2016-02-10)
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  • Loch Ness along with his daughter Jenni We met up in July for several training sessions and decided that the best way for Eddie to guide me would be by him wearing luminous yellow socks and for me to follow them So long as he was not too far in front of me 2 metres in calm water and 1 metre in rough I should be able to see the socks The master plan for the event was for us all to meet up in Dores the location of the swim on the Friday night and set up our tents hoping to camp on both the Friday and Saturday night However the forecast was not looking good for the Saturday so we decided that we d only camp on the Friday and get back up the road straight after the swim As we approached Loch Ness from the Slochd Pass Rhona was able to see the loch about a mile away From here she could make out big waves Oh heck I thought or words to that affect Throughout the night as we tried to sleep we could hear the waves crashing on the shore But when we got up at 6 on the Saturday morning the loch was as flat as a pancake Hmmm pancakes If the conditions were going to be like that for the swim we d have a great time However by 7 30 the wind was back and the waves had come with it Loch Ness at 7am before the wind arrived â Photo courtesy of Eddie Riach As the wind increased and the waves got bigger we were told that instead of the Big Yin swim being at 9 30 and the Wee Nessie being at 10 30 both swims would start at the same time around 9 00 The course was marked out by several large triangular buoys The course was a mile long so the Big Yin swimmers would have to swim 2 laps Eddie gave me a mental map of the course and we worked out that we would be doing 5 left hand turns with a gap of around 300 metres between each turn before heading home on the final sprint finish One of the concerns we d had during our training sessions was that it would be almost impossible for me to see Eddie s socks if we were to try and enter the water at the same time as everyone else So the organisers had very kindly allowed us to start about 5 metres ahead of everyone else We d be in the water for our start whilst everyone else would start with a 2 or 3 metre run in This would give us just enough time for Eddie to take off and me catch sight of his socks before the water became a heaving bubbling mass As the foghorn blew we took off Within a couple of seconds we realised a slight error in our calculations Everyone

    Original URL path: http://www.extremedreams.co.uk/index.php/Extremedreams/Swimming_Monster_Swim_2013/xsid/94 (2016-02-10)
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  • dressed head to toe in camouflage at the controls of a 13 tonne Fv432 Armoured Personnel Carrier Well I m certainly doing a lot better than the owner of the Fiat Punto I just drove over Clambering aboard It all started when I received a phone call from Rod Sim of Tank Driving Scotland He had read an article in the local newspaper about me and my adventures and as he is from Blairgowrie where we are based he invited me to come along and have a wee drive We arrived on a damp late June morning in 2011 It had been raining heavily overnight as it does in the middle of British Summertime and the off road course we were about to drive along was full of waist deep puddles Before we got into our vehicle I was given camouflage coveralls and helmet to wear The coveralls made sense as I knew I was likely to get dirty but the camouflage helmet felt a little bit over the top However there was method in their madness Starting on the flat Once kitted out Rod lead me over to the beast I m referring of course to the Fv432 armoured personnel carrier and not Rhona who had headed off to take some photos from the viewing gallery To get to the driver s seat we would need to clamber in through the back door walk through where the troops would be seated step onto a seat to climb out through a hatch and then lower myself into the next hatch down on to my driver s seat Surrounded by solid lumps of steel it was now clear why we had to wear the helmets Now sat in the driver s seat I was able to feel my way around the controls Rod was laid down on top of the vehicle just at my ear level He explained where the leavers foot pedals and gears all where and how they worked A muddy rollercoaster The first thing I noticed was there was no steering wheel Steering would be done via 2 brake leavers To go left you would stop the left tracks moving and power up the right tracks This would pivot the vehicle to the left And to go right you would do the opposite All very strange I understand the origin of this comes from the old cavalry horsemen days When tanks were first designed they were designed to take the place of horses on the battlefield Thus the horse riding cavalry would be given the job of driving the tanks To keep things simple the controls would be similar to those of steering a horse pulling on the reigns Once all this was explained Rod started up the engines and we were off We started with some basic forward backward moves and some turning From here it was on to the track and start playing in the mud Not being able to see where I was going Rod

    Original URL path: http://www.extremedreams.co.uk/index.php/Extremedreams/Tank_Driving/xsid/79 (2016-02-10)
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  • we were heading into the wash either the wash wake left behind a passing boat or some good sized waves When wash was called we were to jam ourselves into the cat and get ready for the bump Off meant that the wash was big and that I had to cut the power If I didn t we could end up airborne and tipping over After the safety talk Vee drove us out of the 6 knot speed zone and into the open water Now it was my turn to take control I assumed the position back against one tube feet in the loops on the opposite tube left hand on the throttle and right hand holding on for dear life to the safety line along the side of the Thundercat With a slight rotation of the throttle we were off Starting off very slowly and picking up pace as the day went by By the end of Tuesday we had reached a top speed of 47 mph with me driving Wednesday started off with a few short runs around the estuary and then off into the big water This was going to really put me to the test We were now wearing open face helmets and had our comms in place The plan was to head over to Cowes on the Isle of Wight and get a feel for some lumpy water Vee spotted some good size waves and directed us into them Left right left right off on off on off woosh crash power on We had just hit some massive waves and according to the guys in the safety boat we had come right out of the water landing back down on one corner of the boat They were convinced that we were going over but with Vee s skill he positioned his weight in the right place and we hit the water and were off again as if nothing had happened Wow I found out later that Vee had deliberately directed me into this big water to show me what the boat could do and increase my confidence in both the Thundercat and our combined skills The big day had been planned for Thursday but due to bad weather this was postponed until Friday morning On Friday morning Vee picked Rhona and I up and we headed over to Cowes on the big Cat Ferry We then met up with the others and got ready At around 09 30 we took the Thundercat out for last minute photos etc As well as our white Thundercat there was a black Thundercat and 3 safety boats following us We were about to cover a distance of over 60 miles and estimated it should take between 2 and 3 hours If we could get around in 1 hour 40 minutes that would be amazing At around 10 00 we were all set to go Helmets on comms working stopwatch ready and we were off I grabbed the throttle twisted

    Original URL path: http://www.extremedreams.co.uk/index.php/Extremedreams/Thundercat_Powerboat/xsid/52 (2016-02-10)
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  • had been to fly out of Kathmandu to Lukla airport on the Friday morning However due to heavy fog Lukla airport was now closed and all flights for that day were cancelled We d just have to come back tomorrow Lukla airport is an amazing airport hanging off the edge of a mountain In fact whilst we were over there Channel 5 had run a show called The World s Most Dangerous Airports Lukla airport was number 1 In the past they used to have around 6 crashes a year but now things were much better They averaged only 1 crash a year and that had happened just a few weeks before we flew out there They had had their annual quota so everything was OK or at least that is what we thought We returned to Kathmandu airport on the Saturday only to find out that the fog had not lifted and Lukla was closed again One of many bridge crossings courtesy of Eddie Adams Fraser Sue Bob and Darma now had to look into a possible alternative route Lukla was well known for being hit by fog and only recently had been closed for over a week waiting for the fog to clear We were in Nepal for a limited time and could not waste too much time waiting for the fog to clear They came back with 2 possible plans There was another Base Camp available to us This was Annapurna Base Camp which was located near Pokhra The second option was to fly to a small airfield over 50km south of Lukla called Paphlu and trek up to Lukla to join the Everest Base Camp trail Nepalese village courtesy of Eddie Adams Not much was known about Paphlu Neither the expedition leaders nor our guides had ever been there All that was clear was that it was not far from a recognised route about half a day s walk and that it was highly unlikely that a VIP group had ever walked it before We would join the original Jiri trail at Ringmo and from here on in the route had been trekked by both our leaders and Nepali guides The Jiri trail was the route taken by the 1953 first successful Everest ascent team What was also known was that this route was going to be extremely tough and would test the team much more than the main Everest Base Camp route would We would only be achieving a few hundred metres height each day but to do this would mean that we would need to drop several hundred metres to cross a river before climbing back up to the same height as we started from and then climb a few hundred more If we took this route it was likely that we may not get to Everest Base Camp but would get close enough to see Everest The team were given the choices and discussed them whilst waiting outside Kathmandu airport We agreed that

    Original URL path: http://www.extremedreams.co.uk/index.php/Extremedreams/Trekking_Nepal_2010/xsid/68 (2016-02-10)
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  • new activities with him and one of his reporters This sounded like a great idea One of the activities offered was wakeboarding I had tried water skiing before but felt it was very hard to keep my legs together Oo err missus I wasn t much better on snow skis but give me a snowboard surfboard or mountainboard and that was a different matter So wakeboarding seemed to be another one of those board sports that I may stand a chance at succeeding in The venue for this activity was to be Holme Peir Point Water Sports Centre near Nottingham This centre is made up of several good size lakes designed to be used for water sports They had a pulley system set up on one of these lakes which meant there was no need to use a boat Just grap the line and off you go The area that we used for the wakeboarding was a lake around 200 metres long and 70 metres across There was a boat in this lake and that was going to be my transport for this session Here I met Anne and Antony Anne was to be my driver and Antony was to be my instructor After getting kitted out in wetsuit life jacket etc it was off to the water to meet the wakeboard The session started with a bar attached to the side of the boat The plan was for me to hold on to this bar a lot more stable for a novice than ropes etc whilst learning how to stand on the board twist my body and try to keep upright As a board rider I didn t expect this to be too hard I hadn t taken the strain on my fore arms into consideration With all feeling good Anne revved the boat and off we went Getting up into the standing position was a lot harder than I had expected but once I was up wow what a buzz After what must only have been around 10 seconds my forearms were ready to burst The strain was unbelievable I soon had to let go of the bar and splash into the water After a short rest a minute or so I was ready to try again This time I managed to stay up for a lot longer and we almost got all the way around the lake Great I was now a wakeboarder Not quite This was only the basic bit As I was oozing confidence now Antony decided it was time to try it with the rope No problem That shouldn t be a problem for this natural born wakeboarder Antony talked me through how to sit in the water hold the rope give instructions to the boat etc Easy peesy I was all set I gave the signal for the boat to take up the slack bent my knees and shouted full power Superman Instead of gracefully standing up and heading off around the lake

    Original URL path: http://www.extremedreams.co.uk/index.php/Extremedreams/Wakeboarding/xsid/53 (2016-02-10)
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  • Skimboarding Skydiving tandem Snorkeling Western Australia Snowboarding Speed Riding tandem Sphere ing Stunt Plane 2002 Stunt Plane 2011 SUP Caledonian Canal aka Great Glen SUP Kerrera SUP Loch Awe 2015 SUP Loch Tay SOLO SUP Scilly to Sennen SUP UK s Highest SUP Club SUP Blog Swimming Corryvreckan Gulf Swimming English Channel Swimming Forth River 2014 Swimming Lamlash Splash 2013 Swimming Lamlash Splash 2014 Swimming Lamlash Splash 2015 Swimming Location X 2011 Swimming Location X aka Loch Etchachan 2012 Swimming Monster Swim 2013 Tank Driving Thundercat Powerboat Trekking Nepal 2010 Wakeboarding Water Skiing White Water Rafting Nepal White Water Sledging Windsurfing Wing Walking Zip Slide Zorb Water Skiing Devon England In July 1999 Rhona organised for me to have a go at water skiing Because of my disability she thought that it would be a good idea to get in touch with the British Disabled Water Ski Association This group organises water skiing weekends around the country for disabled people Some of the skiers who had come along were obviously very experienced and others were like me complete novices The B D W S A cater for all sorts of disabilities and arrived with a van full of specialist equipment that reflected this On arrival I discovered that I was the only visually impared person there The other skiers had many different disabilities including several wheelchair users All of the instructors are fully qualified and have spent a lot of time working with disabled people To help the novices the instructors use a long water ski handle This is long enough for three people to hold on to One instructor stands on either side of the trainee This means that the instructors can offer both physical and verbal support on both sides of the trainee where and when required Once

    Original URL path: http://www.extremedreams.co.uk/index.php/Extremedreams/Water_Skiing/xsid/54 (2016-02-10)
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  • through rapids ranging all the way up to grade 5 The grades refer to the difficulty of that part of the river This can be due to the speed of the river obstacles rocks waves etc Grade 5 is the hardest level that most white water rafting companies will take commercial customers on On the first day we were taken by bus to our camp for that night This place was luxury compared to where we were going to be staying There was a bar pool table toilets etc For the rest of the trip we would be sleeping on tarpaulin sheets under the rafts or canvas shelters and digging our toilets out of the sandy river banks Once settled in we went upriver to have a practice run on some grade 5 rapids This was a good chance for all those on the trip to work out how the raft operated in harsh white water conditions and for the team to get to know each other This also showed us what to expect later in the trip This was a very good idea and proved that the trip was definitely going to be a lot of fun In Nepal there are lots of white water rafting companies to choose from We chose to go with Equator Nepal Lots of people told us about their rafting trips so we had an idea of what to look out for A lot of companies did not offer safety kayakers With grade 5 this is essential We had two of these guys with us Colley and Sami and they proved their worth on several occasions We also had Ohm who paddled the kit boat This boat was a huge raft A lot bigger than ours It held all the supplies for the next

    Original URL path: http://www.extremedreams.co.uk/index.php/Extremedreams/White_Water_Rafting_Nepal/xsid/55 (2016-02-10)
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