Lancaster grandfather begins unique year long charity paddling challenge

Lancaster man Mark Houghton (58) has just begun a unique charity challenge in the Lake District.

By Michelle Blade
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 3:45 pm

Mark, a grandfather, will be paddling every single body of still water in the Lake District - all the lakes, meres, waters and even remote mountain tarns.

There are approximately 120 locations in all.

This has never been done before and Mark is doing it to raise funds for CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) - a national mental health charity that aims to combat suicide.

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Mark Houghton walking up to Greenburn Tarn.

Mark said: “I've lost two family members to suicide including my grandad and felt the need to do something to try to make a difference.”

This latest challenge allows Mark to combine his love for being on the water and his love of the Lake District.

He is being supported by Paqualife (paqualife.co.uk) who are providing him with a top of the range MRS Tulo packraft.

Weighing in at only just over 2kg this is ideal for the challenge.

Mark Houghton sitting in his MRS Tulo packraft at Red Tarn.

Mark said: “A lot of the places I'll be paddling are quite remote so everything has to be carried - having a boat that weighs so little will be ideal for the job.”

Mark began his challenge on June 4 by paddling across Yew Tree Tarn near Coniston and has also recently paddled Red Tarn in Langdale and Greenburn Tarn in Tilberthwaite. He expects his challenge to take a year to complete.

Michael Jarvis, a fundraising manager with CALM said: “At CALM, we are experiencing a huge demand for our services. We answered over 157,000 calls for help in 2021 alone - a major increase since the start of the pandemic. Alarmingly, this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Mark's amazing packcraft paddling challenge will help us be there for everyone. No matter what.”

Jonathan Locke, director of Paqualife UK, the equipment sponsor of the event, said: “Paqualife are very excited to sponsor Mark's Paddling Marathon in aid of CALM. As UK distributors of MRS packrafts we have provided Mark with the packrafting kit needed to complete his challenge. Outdoor pursuits can play an important role in supporting our mental health, something we at Paqualife are passionate about promoting. We will be cheering Mark on all the way in his quest to raise awareness and support for this worthy cause."

Mark Houghton at Red Tarn.

Mark has an Instagram account, dedicated YouTube channel and a JustGiving page.

Donate to Mark’s cause on his justgiving page here

Mark’s Instagram page is here and his youtube channel is here

Since hitting his 50s Mark has done some unique charity challenges.

In 2015 he did a solo 400 mile walk from France to Lancaster to raise funds for the Alzheimers Society. He raised £2400.

In 2016 he was the first person to run the Morecambe Bay Cycleway (81 miles from Barrow to Glasson Dock) in three days to raise money for St Johns Hospice. He raised £50 on this challenge.

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Later that same year he then donated a kidney to a stranger.