A PADDLE-boarder from Embsay has become the first woman to complete the 162- mile coast to coast Desmond Family Canoe Trail.

Jo Moseley, 54, braved torrential rain, heavy fog and lightning, as well as patches of time consuming weed, in her 11 day, non-stop challenge, ‘Paddleboard The North’ which took her along the entire length of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and the Aire and Calder Navigation, from Leeds to Goole.

Her regular updates on Twitter were followed by her thousands of followers, including television’s Carol Vorderman, and she also recorded a video diary.

Along the way, she picked up crisp packets, plastic bags, and even a partly submerged pork chop, which she at first thought was a body, as part of her mission to highlight problems with plastic rubbish in the country’s waterways, and also to raise money for the Wave Project.

“The sides of the canal was full of plastic bottles, but I also saw disposable cups, and wrappers. Some areas were worse than others,” she said.

She saw an abundance of wildlife, and the only ill effects she suffered were numb feet, from standing still for so long.

And, she passed through the mile long, 200 year old Foulridge Tunnel, which was only recently opened to canoeists and kayakers, in 22 minutes.

“There is a traffic light system and you have half an hour to do it. I’d got my hooter, lent to me by Craven Sailing Club, and my torch, and just paddled as fast as I could. Thankfully, there was no weed to slow me down, and there was three shafts of light. In my head, I kept thinking I could hear a narrow boat coming towards me; I don’t think I’ve ever paddled as fast before,” she said.

Jo, who spent much of the time on her own, but was also joined by friends, who walked alongside her on the towpath, said the longest time she paddled in a day was for 12 hours, on the day she travelled from Burnley to Skipton.

She had been slowed down around Wigan because of weed, catching onto the paddleboard and pulling her back, and needed to catch up; arriving in Skipton after the sun had gone down, and helped by a favourable wind, and using her paddle as a sail.

Arriving in Goole, in torrential rain, she was met by a rainbow, and her father, John. She now plans to go back to the areas most blighted by rubbish to clean it up.

Her fundraising page is still open at: justgiving.com/fundraising/paddleboardthenorth