Sunday, 29 November 2015

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Cumbria's Blue Peter star Helen Skelton prepares for Amazon challenge

Daredevil Cumbrian Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton is set to take on the challenge of a lifetime as she tackles the River Amazon – solo.

Animal refuge photo 1
Helen Skelton

Helen, from Kirkby Thore, near Penrith, is hoping to become the first woman ever to paddle the epic 2,010-mile journey down the river by kayak.

If she completes her challenge Helen will enter the record books for the longest-ever solo kayak journey – a remarkable feat for someone who’d only sat in a kayak once before agreeing to take part.

And – live on Blue Peter last night – the former Appleby Grammar School pupil set off in her kayak from Nauta, Peru – the geographic start of the Amazon.

Helen said: “People say it can’t be done, but worrying about it won’t make it any easier or the distance any shorter. I just have to get on with it.”

Helen, who joined the Blue Peter team back in 2008, is tackling the Amazon in aid of Sport Relief, which runs from March 19 to March 21.

And she hopes that her efforts will motivate others to do their bit for the charity.

The 26 year-old added: “A couple of months ago I’d only sat in a kayak once.

“It’s a massive challenge but I’m hoping that if people see I am out of my comfort zone, they’ll be more likely to challenge themselves and get involved with Sport Relief.”

It’s expected to take Helen around six weeks to complete the marathon challenge, which finishes at Almerim, in Brazil, close to the end of the river where it becomes tidal.

The challenge is one of the toughest in Sport Relief history, and Helen will have to paddle up to 60 miles a day with just one rest day a week if she’s to complete it.

As well as testing her physical fitness to the limit, the former Radio Cumbria presenter will also have to battle against piranhas, electric eels, sting-rays and anacondas.

It’s not the first time that Helen has challenged herself since she joined the Blue Peter team.

Last year she became one of the first women ever to complete the gruelling Namibia marathon, conquering the 78-mile desert route within the 24-hour time limit. She’s also run the New York and London Marathons.

Updates from the Amazon will keep Blue Peter viewers in tune with Helen’s adventures over the next six weeks, while a full round-up of her challenge will be shown in two special Blue Peter episodes on March 16 and 17.

To get involved in Sport Relief log onto


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