Klean Kanteen UK ambassador Cal Major is ready to take on her next massive expedition, circumnavigating Scotland. Beginning in May, Cal will be travelling around Scotland’s rugged and dramatic coastline by stand-up paddleboard, exploring more of the incredible ocean biodiversity by scuba and free diving. Our Ocean, which covers 70% of the planet, plays a hugely important role in the climate and biodiversity crises. Follow along as Cal highlights the amazing marine wildlife of Scotland and shows the importance of these precious ecosystems which support everything from worms to whales.
You can follow along with Cal’s journey here with regular updates direct from the wild ocean of Scotland and this great live tracker, which shows Cal’s progress in real time.
Klean Kanteen UK ambassador Cal Major is a world-record stand up paddleboard adventurer, vet and ocean advocate. Her passion is making sure she can protect the vital ecosystems of the ocean from the climate and biodiversity crises and threat from single-use plastic. From amazing expeditions around the globe, to launching her own charity, Seaful, to help connect people with the ocean, we think she’s pretty amazing.
The Final Paddle: Reaching the Scottish border!
This morning, Tuesday 27th July, Cal successfully paddled to the Scottish border with England and completed her circumnavigation of Scotland. Of course this epic journey and celebration of the Scottish coast and widlife couldn’t end in England so Cal paddled back to Burnmouth (the first harbour in Scotland) to celebrate the end of this journey. Since setting off in Glasgow back in May, Cal has faced things she couldn’t dream of when planning this trip (did someone mention Orca’s?!) and the work she has done to help wildlife and highlight the changes we need to make to protect our oceans from harm has been an amazing thing to be a part of.
We are sad it’s over but rest assured we still have plenty of highlights and information to cover about this expedition and the incredible work Cal is doing! So keep an eye on our social media @kleankanteenUK for more.
Paddling on…Past Aberdeen and making lots of progress!
Generally, the ocean has been calmer since passing John O’ Groats, giving Cal some nice paddling conditions to really progress on her route.
Last week, she paddled calm sunny waters to mark the milestone of passing Aberdeen and continued on with an early morning sunrise paddle past Dunnottar Castle to Inverbervie. This stretch has had some idyllic paddling – paddling at sunrise, past a castle built into a hill with beautiful caves and wildlife galore, sounds like heaven! Cal has seen lots of friendly seals, one having a nice sleep with her whiskers poking above the water, along with massive volumes of sea birds. Paddling in conditions like this makes the long days and hard miles worth it. Cal is into the final stretches of this amazing summer expedition now – having paddled around well over half of Scotland since she started in Glasgow back in May.
Keep your eyes peeled to see what will happen on the rest of this amazing adventure.
Wildlife in Distress
Cal has made impressive progress travelling south, experiencing some calm waters, beautiful sunshine and lots of seals! This has allowed her to be able to pull some nice long days paddling – covering 22 miles and being out on the water with the wildlife for 7 hours. Alongside the lovely seals, Cal has seen an abundance of seabirds such as Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots.
Whilst paddling past RSPB Troup Head Nature Reserve, home to Scotland’s largest mainland Gannet colony Cal spotted a bird in distress. The Gannet had barbed hooks embedded in its foot and tail and one stuck to a rock to stop it from moving. Luckily, due to Cal’s vet training she was able to safely free the bird, but the webbing of its foot was shredded from the birds own attempts to struggle free.
From the headland that evening, at least three other Gannet’s were spotted struggling to free themselves from plastic – whether it be on their beak or round their legs. Seeing animals suffer first hand due to plastic pollution has been really hard for Cal. The fact these animals are suffering due to man-made materials and pollution is heart breaking and highlights the need for drastic change.
North East Coast
The North East coast has brought calmer waters and more settled conditions for Cal since she tackled Cape Wrath two weeks ago and then paddled round John O’Groats to make it to the North East coast.
However, these nice conditions didn’t last long as Cal was rocked by the heart breaking discovery of a Humpback Whale calf, sadly dead due to being entangled in fishing ropes. You can see more updates about this on Cal’s social media (@cal_major) and the things that need to be changed to try and prevent such devastating loss of amazing wildlife, especially endangered species like humpback whales.
It took a while to process the latest discovery on her expedition, but she continued down the North East coast regardless. Cal then braved the last crossing in her route for a while, from Wilkhaven to Burghead overnight, setting off at 11pm and paddling for 15 miles in 5 hours of darkness (some in complete darkness where the sky and sea merged into one). Pushing Cal out of her paddling comfort zone, she took on waves with no horizon to keep her balanced and had to steady herself from wildlife making her jump in the darkness. The overnight forecast made for the only safe paddling conditions, as anything more than a tail wind when doing such a long crossing in the ocean would be hard to fight and potentially dangerous.
The First Woman to Stand-Up Paddleboard Cape Wrath
Cal has successfully taken on Cape Wrath – one of the most challenging sections of the expedition so far. She’s never experienced conditions like it while paddling, with huge waves rolling in throwing her up and down. After holding on for dear life and continuing to push, she had to contend with white water and the clapotis – huge waves reflecting back off the massive cliffs and creating what felt like mini volcanoes under Cal’s board. After these wild conditions, Cal had a further 12 miles to paddle in very choppy condition.
After 7.5 hours on the water, she made it to dry land – incredibly grateful to be in one piece! Cape Wrath was a section of the expedition that held a lot of challenges and was also going to be tricky to overcome. Thankfully, Cal got through it and can continue on to face the next stages of her expedition and explore more fantastic marine habitats and wildlife.
A once in a lifetime moment happened for Cal when she experienced three Orca whales circling her paddle board. Two adults and one baby circled Cal a few times to explore and swam underneath before disappearing off into the distance, three fins on the horizon.
This was obviously an overwhelming moment for Cal and one of the most amazing things she has experienced so far on this expedition. Along with awe and privilege there was a fair amount of adrenalin and fear! We wonder what amazing marine wildlife will seek out Cal next on her journey, she has been spending a fair few days on dry landing now waiting for the perfect weather conditions to take on the epic Cap Wrath, we are definitely in for a ride with the next stage of this expedition and we can’t wait to see more!
The next step of Cal’s expedition took her across to the Summer Isles, specifically Tanera Beag. This is an small, uninhabited island off north west Scotland. Cal’s crossing was another 20 miles, battling pain and exhaustion at times, but encouraged on by a breadth of wildlife - puffins, dolphins, skua, seals, gannets and guillemots. Once Cal had reached her overnight camping destination of Tanera Beag, she was in the Wester Ross Marine Protected Area. This area means that wildlife above and below water, are allowed to flourish. Dredging and trawling by large vessels is prohibited here.
Even though Tanera Beag is uninhabitied, washed up plastic covered the beach and rocks. The fact that deserted islands where wildlife should be safe to live and thrive are becoming over-run from plastic pollution, highlights how much we need to take action. Cal is planning a beach clean soon to try and help clear off this beautiful island!
After reaching Mull, the next big goal was to head to the Isle of Skye. Day one meant paddling for 18 miles (joined by some amazing friends for support) to reach Fascadale and camp under the stars, with an amazing view out towards Eigg and Skye.
Cal has put in some intense paddling to reach the Isle of Skye. Paddling over 50km in one day from 5am to 9pm to reach Skye, travelling from Mull to Ardnamurchan then on to the Isle of Skye. Despite the high temperatures and strong sun, Cal managed to push through and carry on going. With some dips in the sea to attempt to cool down of course. The second day of paddling meant hiding in the shade until evening tide, to avoid overheating again.
Next, Cal is setting off from Skye to head to the village of Applecross. Don’t forget, you can track Cal live with her paddle tracker linked at the top of this page!
After crossing to Arran, Cal took off at 4am for a very windy 30km crossing to Tarbert at Kintyre, before the next step of her journey - heading on towards Mull. From Arran to Tarbert bought some windy and challenging conditions, but Cal made it across in a morning (just in time for a second breakfast and brew from her Klean Kanteen TKWide).
Travelling on from Kintyre, next Cal took on the epic 30 miles to reach the Isle of Mull. One of the more challenging days of the trip so far, it was 8 hours of hard paddling hard and averaging about 4 miles an hour! Having to face Dorus Mor, a big tidal race that feeds the Corryvwreckan whirlpool, alongside some massive tides – it was a day of hard paddling. Around Mile 23, when Cal was really struggling, the ocean rewarded her with a sighting of her first ever minke whale! Just like that, she was spurred on to paddle and reach Mull before the tides turned.
An exhausting but rewarding day, seeing a host of amazing marine wildlife and facing some tough conditions!
Start of the Journey
Starting from Glasgow City Centre and making her way down the River Clyde, Cal has paddled 70km in the first two days of her expedition.
Finally stopping at Portencross at the base of the Clyde, the next step of journey will see her paddle 10 miles across the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Arran.
Make sure you are following Cal (@cal_major) and Klean Kanteen UK (@kleankanteenuk) on Instagram for live updates.
Introduction to Scotland Ocean Nation
Klean Kanteen UK with the support of Klean Kanteen are proud to be helping ambassador Cal Major as she takes on her next expedition, circumnavigating around Scotland by Stand Up Paddleboard. Cal will investigate the amazing marine wildlife of Scotland and what we can do to protect this precious ocean ecosystems. Ahead of COP26 being hosted in Glasgow this year to highlight the ever growing Climate Crisis we are facing and how we can unite the world to tackle climate change. Follow along and watch this incredible journey unfold.
Charity Fundraising - Seaful
Seaful, founded by Cal in 2020, is the UK charity helping more people to reconnect to our ocean and waterways, for the mental health benefits and to nurture stewardship of our blue spaces.
One in five children in the UK has never been to the sea, and our societies are concerningly disconnected from nature. Time in nature, particularly in water, is scientifically proven to be beneficial for mental health. During this adventure, Cal will be raising vital funds for Seaful. She will also be running Seaful’s Vitamin Sea project activities, introducing children who have never been to the ocean to this awe-inspiring environment.