After some back and forth, looking at rivers on maps, we settled on the longest river in the British Isles: the River Shannon in Ireland. The idea was to go from the source (the Shannon Pot in County Cavan) and paddle over 300km down to the river's end in Limerick. From our research it was obvious that plastic pollution in the oceans is currently a huge problem but also in rivers where much of it originates. So we decided to do our bit by collecting all the plastic pollution we would find along the course of the Shannon.
With the basic outline put together, I needed to prepare! First stop - get a kayak. Itiwit were really behind the trip and set me up with everything I needed, from paddles to the inflatable kayak itself! I’m a complete novice when it comes to kayaking so to jump into a trip like this… I knew my fitness would need to improve. Some very good advice that was given to me was: the gym is not as good as paddling - get out on the water, as much as you can! This was good advice; my first real practice was on the Regent’s Canal in London, and after repeating the 15km between Limehouse and Little Venice twice in one day, I was left with a sprained wrist and some sore shoulders. This concerned me for the trip but was in fact the best thing I could have done to prepare; I feel like I was much stronger once I was rested up.
The big take home lesson as we went along the canal, was picking up all the plastic would not be feasible. We knew Ireland wouldn’t be as dirty as London but collecting plastic really reduced our speed. We changed the plan to collect as much plastic as we could carry and sought out some litter pickers to help the effort.
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