Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

This cancer survivor just became the first woman to paddle board the English Channel solo

paddle boarding.PNG

“Nothing is better for self-esteem than survival” – so proclaimed the legendary adventurer Martha Gellhorn. 

It’s a sentiment we think environmentalist Lizzie Carr lives up to completely, after she became the first woman to stand-up paddle board the English Channel solo yesterday.

Carr, a cancer survivor, tackled strong currents, choppy waters and the busiest shipping lane in the world to paddle the 24-mile journey from Dungeness in England to Boulonge on the French coast.

She completed the astonishing feat in seven hours.

Lizzie Carr

Lizzie had to negotiate winds, rain and choppy waters in achieving her incredible feat

Carr, who undertook the mission to raise awareness of plastic waste in the ocean with the Plastic Petrol initiative, announced her success on Instagram.

“I DID IT!!” the elated pioneer wrote.

“I left Dungeness with two dolphins dancing round my board and finished in Bolougne with a Sea Lion staring me in the face - if that's not the sign of a great day then I don't know what is,” she added.

Read more: meet the incredible women who rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic

“To say I'm not nervous would be a lie,” Carr wrote on her blog, before she set out. “And whilst I've spent the last few months preparing for the challenging conditions I'll be facing, it's hard to shake off the feeling that this is beyond my ability.

 “… The moments of self-doubt and fear are becoming increasingly frequent.” 

But Carr is not one to shrink away from a challenge. She turned her life in a radical new direction four years ago, after being diagnosed with stage two cancer that had spread to her lymphatic system.

“When you’re faced with death, the reasons you want to live suddenly become overwhelmingly clear – and that’s what you fight for,” she wrote.

Lizzie Carr has spent the last year paddle-boarding the 400 miles of England's waterways

Lizzie has spent the last year paddle-boarding the entire 400 miles of England's waterways

Carr underwent radiotherapy and later returned to her corporate job, but felt the same emptiness and boredom she had done before suffering from cancer.

“I decided drastic measures were needed and so I quit my job, “ she said. “I didn’t have a plan for the future but cancer, for all its downfalls, gave me the confidence to throw myself into everything whole-heartily and follow the life I imagined.”

Read more: the top 10 must-have travel experiences of 2017

This philosophy led not only to her successfully paddle boarding the Channel, but also completing an awe-inspiring pilgrimage across the 400-mile length of England’s waterways last year.

Carr picked up discarded plastic along the way, as well as collecting water samples for micro plastic analysis by Plymouth University.

 “The driving force for me has always been the bigger environmental story about plastic pollution and creating as much awareness about this as I can,” she tells Wired For Adventure.

Three cheers for her amazing effort. We know a hero when we see one…

Find out more about how you can get involved in the #PlasticPetrol initiative to save our environment here. Visit Lizzie’s blog here.

Images: Lizzie Carr Instagram


Dutch girl pilot.JPG

This Dutch pilot wants to inspire more women to pursue aviation

solo female travelling.jpg

The 7 best trips to take as an intrepid solo-traveller

Harriet_Katy_Spain 2.jpg

Meet the woman walking 2,500 miles in memory of her best friend


See red in Koh Samui

Stylist heads to Thailand to experience one of the most spectacular swimming pools in the world

by The Stylist web team
17 Oct 2017

You're more likely to get better service on a plane if you sit here

We've got all the in-flight seating tips you could ever want

by Megan Murray
16 Oct 2017

Stay at The Malabar, Yorkshire Dales

12 Oct 2017

These are the 10 happiest places to live in the UK

Is it time for a change of scenery?

by Susan Devaney
11 Oct 2017

Discover a Costwolds bolthole with museum-worthy art

Stylist finds Artist Residence Oxfordshire more than lives up to its name

by Amy Adams
10 Oct 2017

The 10 dreamiest (and most expensive) streets to live on in the UK

We should have started saving about ten years ago

by Megan Murray
04 Oct 2017

Discover the real Rome that lies beyond the silver screen

Stylist goes behind the scenes at the living film set that is Rome

by The Stylist web team
03 Oct 2017

Seriously hip hotels you need to follow on Instagram

From a rock’n’roll hideaway in Texas to a futuristic glampsite in Devon

by Anna Hart
28 Sep 2017

Step between the scenes of Australia’s artsy second city…

Melbourne shuns beaches and boardwalks for coffee, culture and creativity, finds Stylist

by The Stylist web team
26 Sep 2017

This is how to book an NYC shopping trip with Sarah Jessica Parker

Sex and the City fans, this is not a drill

by Megan Murray
26 Sep 2017