Our site needs cookies

We need cookies to help you sign in, create a fundraising page and donate. If you want to fundraise or donate on our site, you will need to turn on cookies How to turn on cookies.

It looks like you are trying to access a charity account.

Please click here for the charity sign in page. If you are not trying to access a charity account, please contact us.


Philip Sowden

Complete the Bliss Canoe Trail paddleing solo

Total raised so far £0.00

Target £0.00

Total plus Gift Aid: £0.00

Raised offline: £0.00

My story

[p]On Monday 14 th May, to celebrate my 70th year, I will set off to complete the first solo undertaking of the Bliss Canoe Trail (www.blisscanoetrail.co.uk) to raise funds for SSNAP, the premature babies unit at the JR hospital, and MacMillan Cancer Relief.[/p][p] [/p][p]The paddler[/p][p]I recently celebrated my 70th birthday having recovered from a stroke in 2007 and suffering from osteoarthritis in my right knee and other joints.There are a couple of portages which I will probably need help wih, either hauling the canoe on its trolley or a lift in a car or van! I am a canoe and kayak coach at the Falcon Rowing & Canoe Club and Isis Canoe Club, a member of the Canoe England, the Open Canoe Association and Open Canoe Sailing Group, and has canoed from being in the Scouts to date. I have competed in the Liffey Descent(2nd place), and several other races, and have been a committed coach for over 25 years. [/p][p]My granddaughter was born in the premature baby unit at the JR hospital, Oxford in June 2016 and is the light of all the family! My father died in 2001 at home and the family were supported by Macmillan nurses proving respite care at night so he could be at home as he wanted.[/p][p]The Bliss Canoe Trail[/p][p]William Bliss proposed, but never completed the Bliss Canoe Trail in 1934 as the longest practicable canoe journey in his book Canoeing. The route includes 506 locks, 13 tunnels and 19 canals and rivers . However he was keen that people should enjoy Englands rivers and undertake their own route, rather like Wainwright and his Wainwright Trail for walkers (which I completed for my 40th birthday).[/p][p][i]Canoeing[/i] was William Bliss' second published book. Coming after [i]Heart of England by Waterway[/i] it was quite a different book to all his others. As Bliss confesses in his preface, it is a guide book. However, he goes on to explain that it is a guide book with a difference. The difference being his research into all aspects and his strong desire to communicate the pleasure that rivers and canals have given him. The book is in two parts. Part I describes the canoes and equipment available, the techniques to be adopted, the characteristics of the waters, the camping equipment required and how to plan a cruise. Part II is effectively a "Bradshaws" canoeing guide being a list of canals and rivers that can be navigated. Each waterway has a description along with a table of distances. A very extensive map of all rivers and canals of England & Wales that can be navigated by canoe complete the volume. The route Bliss proposed is over 850 miles, over 500 locks, on 19 rivers and canals and 13 tunnels! It has been completed twice before the first time by Dave Halsall and Steve Muratroyd in 1993, all the more impressive for being unsupported; the second time in 2017 by Andy Oughton, Noddy Crouch and Mark Jan Dielemans all paddling tandem but driving a support vehicle by rotation. A lecture on this trip was given at the 2107 Open Canoe Symposium which provided the inspiration for me to undertake this trail[/p][p][br][/p][p] Philip has planned a route starting and finishing in Oxford, taking Bliss at his word “I propose to leave it to each individual canoeist to plan his own tour… Part ll of this book and the Index Map will give him(well it was written in 1934!) all the necessary material” but also utilising Nicholson Waterways guides for more detail. He will be paddling solo in his WeNohNah Solo plus, and will get support from his wife, and Peter Travis to replenish his food and clothing supplies. It is hoped that he will be accompanied by friends and clubs on his route, and the offer a bath and perhaps bed for the night would be gratefully accepted from any supporter![/p][p]Contact Philip Sowden tel 07967971258. Email paddler69@outlook.com[/p]

Share Philip's story


Jun 23, 2019


Quizzes and canoes! Thought i’d Just say that because it sounds good. Philip you inspire me with your adventurous spirit, and of course your sense of fun. Glad to be your friend. x

£20.00 plus £2.50 Gift Aid

Jun 22, 2019

Ann B

£15.00 plus £3.75 Gift Aid

Jun 10, 2019


Well done Philip!


Jun 10, 2019


Congratulations on fighting through to the end! Very proud of you darling. All my love Sue

£220.00 plus £55.00 Gift Aid

Jun 7, 2019



Jun 5, 2019


£10.00 plus £2.50 Gift Aid

Jun 3, 2019

Philips paying in


Oct 9, 2018


Such an inspiration

£15.00 plus £3.75 Gift Aid

Oct 1, 2018

Hand shaking Bob from Wigan

Take care on your quest Philip


Sep 27, 2018


Congratulations Philip from Pam