In June this year adventurer and Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion, Lizzie Carr, became the first person to successfully paddleboard the length of England via its connected waterways.
The challenge also had an important environmental purpose, as Lizzie mapped out and scaled the issue of plastic pollution, highlighting hotspots that required attention along the way.
Two months on, Lizzie is returning next week to four locations along her route where plastic pollution was identified as particularly prominent.
She will be supported by London and Rio Olympic canoe slalom silver medallist Rich Hounslow and is inviting the local community to lend a hand to help transform the canal.
Lizzie comments: "Britain is blessed with beautiful, thriving waterways. These serve as places to re-connect with nature and to see amazing wildlife in often dense urban areas. However the issue with plastic pollution is a global one and a lot of what we find in the oceans starts inland - on our rivers and canals - and this needs to be addressed.
"It’s staggering to see how much plastic and general debris we allow to enter our canals and rivers, and the impact this is having not just on its desirability for us, but the damage its doing to wildlife.
"Now I've identified where some of the problem areas are up and down the country's waterways, it's time to re-visit hotspot areas and start clearing away the plastic!
"I'd really love to enlist support from the community – either on their own paddle boards, canoes or from the towpath – to join the #PlasticPatrol movement. By working together to remove plastic from canals we are not only improving the desirability of the area and helping wildlife but making a contribution to combatting the global issue of plastic choking our oceans. Our waterways are historical and special places that we should be protecting and cherishing, if not for ourselves then for future generations to enjoy."
Ian Lane, our waterway manager, said: "Lizzie’s enthusiasm for Britain’s waterways is infectious, we really hope that people turn out and support her. And once they see what the canal has to offer, I hope they join us at one of our regular volunteer work parties to really make the most of this special place."
Lizzie will be starting her #PlasticPatrol mission on Monday at 10.30am in Tamworth. Her exact location and progress will be tracked live on www.lizzieoutside.co.uk so anyone that wants to join the efforts can come along throughout the day, either on their own boards, canoes or simply walking along the towpaths.
Lizzie will be visiting three other plastic hotspots she encountered earlier this summer. The full schedule is Tamworth (Monday), Nuneaton/Coventry and Stoke-on-Trent (Tuesday) and Manchester (Wednesday).
If people are not available to help with the #PlasticPatrol clean-up, Lizzie is inviting them to share their own hauls and findings along the waterways on either Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #PlasticPatrol and tagging the location, so it can be pulled into an interactive map that shows the issue all over the country.