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Warwick graduates embark on epic journey

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Two graduates from Warwick University are attempting to travel through ten European countries on a gruelling 2954-mile canoeing expedition. 

CanoeCrossing from Nantes to Istanbul, Nathan Wilkins, 21, and James Warner-Smith, 22, will be travelling for four months, passing through France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria, before finally ending their journey in Turkey. 

After completing their final year at Warwick University where they were members of the Warwick Athletics and Cross Country Club, Wilkins and Warner-Smith have been training in the waters of Leamington Spa to prepare themselves for the treacherous foreign waters.

The two canoeists have been sponsored by the Country Ski and Climb and Warwick University’s Lord Rootes Memorial Fund. The Fund was set up to honour the contribution of Lord Rootes, a local car manufacturer, to the creation of the University.  The Fund supports original and challenging projects that will encourage the personal development of individual or groups of Warwick students. 

The solitary challenge does not deter Warner-Smith or Wilkins. In fact, Wilkins appears confident that their friendship will survive the expedition.

“Most people ask how we’re going to cope with being stuck in the same boat for hours every day. I can confirm that we are yet to run out of topics after five days of repeating the same stretches of water with only Midlands wildlife to talk to.’’ 

The 2954-mile course was the idea of Warner-Smith who embarked in 2010 on a two week canoe trip around northern Canada. Using the North American continent-crossing concept, the team will be tackling European upstream rivers and canals with challenging coastlines and industrial locks. 

Already two weeks into their challenge, the canoeists have just left Saumur in western France and will continue past the historic French city of Tours. Follow the two graduates on their adventure at twitter: @canoeingEurope  or visit their website www.canoeingthecontinent.com/.  

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