A GRADUATE who says she is scared of water has become the first woman to kayak the length of Britain.

Emily Bell was the support paddler who kept swimmer Sean Conway company as he stroked his way from Land's End to John O'Groats.

But while Mr Conway, 32, became the first swimmer to complete the 1000-mile feat, it has emerged that 28-year-old Miss Bell, from London, is believed to have become the first female kayaker to do the same journey.

Miss Bell, a history of art graduate from Oxford Brookes University, only applied to become Mr Conway's support paddler to cure her fear of water.

She says she has visions of the Jaws movie poster and fears "things coming out of the water", despite paddling 1001 miles down the Lower Missouri River in America accompanying Dave Cornthwaite on a swim last year.

"That was my first attempt at losing my fear of water. But it did not work, so when I saw Sean's advert seeking a kayaker, I thought I would apply and try again to finally conquer my phobia," said Miss Bell.

"The funny thing is that I love water but I'm just scared of it: I've even had a fright in the swimming pool.

"I have a fear of living things popping up beside me. I know it's ridiculous. I saw dolphins, porpoises and seals on this trip: it freaked me out. My head plays tricks. I think of the Jaws movie cover but I block it out and get on with it. That's how I cope."

Miss Bell, who attended Downe House girls' boarding school in Berkshire where the Duchess of Cambridge was a pupil, said she was only seasick once and never capsized "because I was so scared, I refused to".

However she nearly came to grief going around Cape Wrath - the most north-westerly point of mainland Britain - where she battled near 30 feet waves and gale force nine winds.

"It was a bit scary. I was doing so well at conquering my fear of water but that experience has put me back again," said Miss Bell. "I'm just as scared as I was before. But I've ended up becoming the first woman to kayak from Land's End to John O'Groats."

Mr Conway from Cheltenham and Miss Bell set off from Land's End on June 30 and finished on Monday.