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Cleaner seas start with cleaner rivers..

Our roving river cleaner John Leyland reports with words and pictures from the Derwent between Milford and Darley Abbey.



Last weekend I got out on the river with my cousin Michael for a 12 km cruise from Milford to Derby. Michael is an outdoorsman but I don’t think he’d mind being described as a fair weather paddler. That said he has been interested to see the activities of Paddle Peak over the last few years and recently came to me with a proposition.


Michael is currently working toward an MSc in Science Communication, this and the zeitgeist regarding the environment, acting local to effect far reaching impacts and in particular the idea that cleaner seas start with cleaner rivers has inspired him. Not to mention that the course requires the production of a short radio segment on a subject of the students course.


You may remember an account I wrote of a trip on the Derwent where I recovered large volumes of jam packaging. The plastic I recover that day was by no means the lot and the last time I paddled between Milford and Darley Abbey there was a fair amount still in the trees though it is gradually succumbing to the ravages of time, breaking down and inevitably contributing to plastic fragments seen downstream and in out oceans. Taking this plastic waste as an example seemed like a good starting point for something both meeting the requirements of the course and hopefully highlighting some issues in an accessible way.

This is where I come in, I’m by no means an environmental expert but I am a witness and was more than happy to show Michael some of the plastic inputs close to source.

As we paddled we invariably encountered waste, in particular lots of silver stuff. And as we cleaned some of the worst patches we talked about the issues on the river and recorded audio for the project but we also saw wildlife: kingfishers, buzzards and leaping fish, and generally had a pleasant day on the river!


It was a pleasure to be able to introduce my cousin to places right on his doorstep that he has never seen before and to do so in a way that will hopefully draw attention to the damage being done to them.


I look forward to hearing the radio segment in due course and will certainly share it with Paddle Peak and beyond.


Great work John & Michael. Thank You.

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