There’s a reason car-park swims are so popular. Even with the best barrow in the world, lugging all your gear to the other side of the lake can be an exhausting experience.
Many of us will have gritted our teeth as we struggle the last 20 yards to that faraway swim, knowing the feeling of releasing your sweaty, blistered grip from the barrow is a moment of genuine satisfaction. You wipe your brow, adjust your waistband and plant your hands on your hips, chest heaving, and look back triumphantly at the 500 yards you’ve just conquered.
Now imagine doing that for 10 miles. 16,000 metres and roughly 20,000 steps of shoulder-burning tackle hauling.
That’s exactly what Nick Stroud did last summer.
EVERTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK
The Oxford carper fully loaded his barrow – including 5kg of boilies and a crate of beer – and walked from his home in the city to Orchid Lakes in the south of Oxfordshire.
In the process the 33-year-old smashed his £500 target and raised over £1,200 for the Anglers Against Cancer charity, of which Orchid boss Marsh Pratley is chairman.
In those 10 gruelling miles, and the many practice sessions beforehand, Nick also learned many valuable lessons about barrow use that all of us can learn from.
“It weighed 145kg fully loaded,” Nick told UKCarp. That’s nearly 23 stone in old money.
He continued: “I was very aware of the work Anglers Against Cancer do and I thought maybe I could do something with a bit of extra effort to help raise some money. I considered running there, but I do a bit of running and 10 miles isn’t a big deal.
“It took 2hr 35m, which I was very happy with – I had hoped to do it in under 3hr 30m.”
That impressive time – try walking 10 miles without pushing a 23-stone cart and see how long it takes! – was accomplished thanks to meticulous planning that we can all learn from to make our tackle-lugging more bearable.
THE PERFECT TECHNIQUE
First up was barrow choice and although Nick isn’t affiliated to any brand, one manufacturer stepped forward when they heard about his endeavours.
“We tried a few different barrows and borrowed a few, and some weren’t very good,” he said, “but Trakker very kindly sent me an X-Trail Gravity and it’s brilliant. The low handles mean it feels like you don’t have to lift it – it just hangs off your hands.
“The weight is so far forward with it you’re just supporting it, rather than lifting it. I think that’s the key to a good barrow.”
Arguably the most crucial part of the journey was the way the barrow was loaded. Lobbing your gear on to your barrow in the order you drag it out of the car is not going to do you any favours when it comes to pushing your kit any real distance.
Nick told us: “You have to put your gear together like a puzzle and we had a few goes at getting it right. A lot of the weight went in the bottom bag which keeps the centre of gravity low.
“Keep the weight low and keep it central – that’s crucial if you want to make life easier for yourself.”
Nick took all his kit for a weekend’s session, and actually fished with it once he arrived at Orchid, and looking at the photos of him in action you can see how well he used the space on his barrow. Big gaps disrupt even weight distribution and make the overall size of your load taller or wider, moving weight away from that optimal ‘low and central’ position.
Nick and his support crew set off from the Oxford suburb of Headington at 5am and venue boss Marsh joined them for the final few miles.
“I got a lot of support along the way,” said Nick, “I think a few people locally knew I was doing it and I got a lot of thumbs up and positive reactions from passers-by.
“We really didn’t know how the barrow would cope because it’s not designed to do this, and we even took a spare wheel in case we got a puncture, but it coped perfectly and is still in perfect condition.”
What is Anglers Against Cancer?
AAC has raised thousands of pounds for Children with Cancer UK through a variety of fishing events. The centrepiece of the group’s calendar is a fish-in at Orchid Lakes in Oxfordshire, where more than 30 anglers raise funds individually and fish from Friday to Sunday. More details about the group’s work can be found at www.anglersagainstcancer.co.uk