In the first of our guest blog series Clare Dallaway, British Canoeing Board Member, West Midlands Chair and paddler with Royal Sutton Coldfield Canoe Club, talks about how the annual Paddle to the Heart event in Birmingham has now added a new dimension by cleaning while paddling!
Saturday 9th June 2018 marked the 7th Paddle to the Heart regional tour for the West Midlands Regional Development Team. It’s my favourite event of the year; I love the choice we have to explore different routes each year and the coming together of many paddlers in a central point which proves a real spectacle to passers-by of which there are many!
This year we welcomed 74 paddlers and a dog to join us on the route of their choice to come together in the heart of Birmingham. For the first time we chose to add a ‘clean up element’ to the tour providing litter pickers, bags and gloves for paddlers to clean up the canals as they paddled! This was a huge success, so much litter was collected including some random items like a headboard, a fire extinguisher and even a bouquet of flowers which looked they were as fresh as the day!
As I was overseeing the event I chose the 1.5 mile paddle from Icknield Port as my preferred route. I was amazed at how much plastic we found on the short route, not just bottles but slithers of plastic sheets floating in the water which you might miss from the towpath. Collecting litter was quite addictive and we found ourselves wanting to find every piece we could as we moved along. We spoke to many people on the towpath who wanted to know what we were doing, including a girl who had been learning all about how plastics damage the environment at school and found it fascinating we were in canoes cleaning up!
Of the many paddlers I spoke to everyone enjoyed the added dimension of the clean-up. I guess like me they left the day feeling glad they’d been part of a great social occasion and satisfied they had taken the time to look after the environment which gives so many of us the opportunity to do the thing we love…paddling!
I hope to see you on our next P2H tour on Saturday 8th June 2019. Get the date in your diary and come along!
Waterway clean ups are not only great for the environment, they can be a great social occasion too; paddlers coming together in a collective effort and making a difference to the places we paddle. For more information and advice on how you can organise a clean-up, click here.