Brendon Prince SUPs Around Northern Ireland 

On October 1, Brendon Prince successfully finished his stand-up paddleboard journey around Northern Ireland. In nine days on the water, he covered 303km. This was the final phase of paddleboarding around the UK that he began last year. 

At first, Prince wasn’t sure where his starting point should be, but the death of Queen Elizabeth II death on September 8 decided it for him. Out of respect for the monarch, he started on The Royal Canal in Dublin on September 14. He wanted to paddle the entire 145km canal and its 43 locks.

However, the combination of locks, wind, debris, and weeds slowed him considerably. The weeds, in particular, were waist-high and impossible to paddle through. He had to walk around or slosh through parts of the canal, pushing his board.

After about halfway, he decided to call time on this section. He hopes to go back earlier next year, when the canal is free of weeds, and complete its full length. 

Prince wanted to include the canal since he has always focused on coastal paddling. As part of his water safety mission, he wanted to demonstrate that inland bodies of water require caution too. “I will keep doing this until accidental drownings in the UK are below 50 a year,” he said. “It is not acceptable that we have 600 to 700 people drowning every year.”

A route map of the journey

Prince’s route around Northern Island. Image: Photo:


On September 16, two days after aborting The Royal Canal, he began to paddle the coastline of Northern Ireland. He finished in seven days. Though it was a fairly short route compared to his paddle last year, it was not without difficulty.

“It has all the idiosyncrasies of Scotland — the big cliffs, the crazy flows, and the secluded paddling,” Prince told ExplorersWeb, “but in a much more condensed coastline.”

Prince found the hardest part of the entire UK coast to be Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre, which is directly opposite the Northern Irish coastline. “It married up that that section was pretty difficult as well,” Prince commented.

Crossing Belfast Lough was also difficult. Though only 12km wide, the inlet “played havoc with the tide”. It also has a lot of boat traffic that needed watching. 

Not a continuous route

During his mainland UK paddle, Prince followed a continuous route. Not so in Ireland. The weather forced him to stay on land for a few days and to juggle the individual parts in order to complete the whole distance in the time he had.

“On one day, I did three sections,” he explained. “One headed south. Then I went north and did a section heading west. In the evening, [I] did a section heading east. They all pieced together, allowing me to do the whole coastline.” 

Brendon Prince gets ready to start paddling along the coastline of Northern Ireland

Photo: longpaddleSUP/Facebook


The water between the mainland and Rathlin Island was Prince’s favorite section.

“It’s an absolute fairground ride. Very fun, very dangerous. There are currents that want to take you to Scotland, there are currents that want to take you to the Atlantic. It’s crazy but a real blast, not for the faint-hearted.”

This felt different from last year’s UK mainland circumnavigation. For one thing, he had many more followers this time, and more people wanted to engage him along the way. He had to be disciplined with conversations because he was trying to paddle for 10 hours a day. 

He is planning a number of future projects, which may involve water but won’t all use a paddleboard. In a few weeks, he will take up a new (unidentified) water sport and train at it for a year, then attempt a new project. He hopes to show that when you approach water sports safely, anything is possible.

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.