13-year-old boy paddles along the Thames in eight days

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A BOY kayaked the Thames in eight days.

Nico Hartwright, 13, from Goring, started in Lechlade in Gloucestershire and finished at Teddington Lock in London after spending 12 hours a day on the water.

His father-in-law Ben Ward, 50, and his half-brother James Ward, 19, accompanied him in a Canadian canoe on the 125-mile journey.

They were carrying two tents, luggage, camping gear and food so they could camp each night.

Nico, an alumnus of Moulsford Prep School who will start this month at Pangbourne College, has been kayaking for five years and trains two or three times a week.

He decided to take up the challenge of having something to do during the summer holidays.

Nico said: “I had no idea what it would be like. When we started, I didn’t know if we were going in the right direction.

“Then we thought we weren’t going to make it because the first lock was closed and the lock keeper didn’t open it, so we had to port around. It took us 20 minutes to collect all our stuff and walk around. We couldn’t have done that at all 43 locks. Luckily it was the only one that was closed.

“It was also very hot and that killed me – I really don’t like the heat. Sometimes I wanted to quit, but after three or four days I was like, “I’ve come this far” and I just wanted to finish.

The first night they slept at Oxford Donnington Bridge and ordered take-out pizzas for supper and most days they stopped at a pub near where they had pitched their tents to have some hot food.

On the fourth day, they stopped at Benson, which was close enough to home that they could spend the night in their own bed and shower. When they arrived at Streatley, family and friends were waiting for them at the Swan to have lunch with them.

On their last day there was torrential rain and lightning and they had to hide under Kingston Bridge until they could move on.

Nico said: “We weren’t worried and it chilled us out, which was very nice.”

Their mother, Kate Hartwright, 51, and sister Lola, 11, were waiting for them at Teddington Lock to take them home.

Nico said: “Once I saw the finish, I was like, ‘Finally, I can go home and sleep at home’. I’m glad it’s over. I’m proud of myself and maybe one day I’ll do it again.

“My mother is very happy with me and my grandparents called me to congratulate me too.”

Ms Hartwright said: ‘I had no idea how big this challenge was until day three when I Googled it.

“I was a bit worried at first but Nico was extremely safe with Ben and James and they were never more than an hour from home until they arrived in London so we visited them for a few evenings when they had pitched their tents.

“I’m absolutely blown away by Nico’s focus, determination and resilience – it’s unbelievable at just 13 years old. I’m so proud of all three of them. They all played a part and couldn’t have done it. one without the other. It was real teamwork.

“When Nico came home for the night, it was amazing to see him get up at 5 a.m. to get ready to leave because he usually gets up at 10 a.m. and plays X-box like a typical teenager.

“It’s a well-known challenge, so we reached out to Guinness World Records to see if he’s the youngest to complete it.”

• In February, Ms. Hartwright became one of only 600 people to complete the “One Mile Ice Swim”. She had to swim a mile in water that was less than five degrees Celsius wearing only a bathing suit, goggles and a silicone swimming cap. The endurance challenge has been ratified by the International Ice Swimming Association.

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