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BLOG: Paddlers help raise funds to protect special areas for conservation

In the latest blog post written for the Clear Access, Clear Waters campaign, East Midlands paddler Kirston Elton explains how paddlers can team up with local organisations to create a force for good. 

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Paddling can be a huge force of good whether it is litterpicks, helping landowners mend the banks or mapping invasive species. But we can also help raise funds to protect special areas for conservation. 

Inland Inspiration coach paddlesports around Nottingham and Leicester and their staff are based a couple of minutes from Attenborough Nature Reserve on the banks of the River Trent. Living a couple of minutes away, Inland Inspiration staff regularly use the Attenborough Nature Reserve after coaching sessions or just to relax. 

Attenborough - an old quarry is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that has a variety of lakes and wetlands as well as numerous bird species across an enormous complex of water and grasslands. It is run by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and is currently running an appeal to raise £1million to buy the land outright from the owners. 

To help raise funds, Inland Inspiration Paddlesport Instructor Kathrine Allen came up with the idea of a paddle ending at Attenborough with each paddler donating £10 for a place. The use of social media to advertise the paddle meant that in the end there was a waiting list to go on the paddle as there were too many who wanted to take part. 

The paddle was due to go from Shardlow to Attenborough along the Trent and Mersey Canal and then River Trent, but high water levels forced an alternative route. One of the paddlers set up a giving page and raised £90 while the paddle itself raised £155, giving a total of £245 for the appeal. 

Fourteen paddlers - who had mostly never met until the day of the paddle - took part in the paddle in kayaks and on SUPs and braved wind and sunshine to complete the 10km. Paddlers who took part had a range of abilities from relative newcomers to experienced leaders. It shows just how paddlesports can do so much good if we look for opportunities like this to protect nature we care about.

As Inland Inspiration have shown, this is just one example of how paddlesports can benefit the environment as well as mental health, enjoyment or just being on the water. For more information on the Clear Access, Clear Waters campaign and how you can get involved, click here.