By Tor McIntosh
When I first met Lizzie Carr in February 2016 at a gathering of Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champions, she chatted to me about her growing love of stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and her plans to SUP from Bristol to London over a week in July; in fact, she was trying to convince myself and Mary-Ann Ochota to join her.
A few months later and her SUP slow adventure has expanded ever so slightly. Starting today Lizzie is aiming to be the first person to travel the whole way across England’s waterways by SUP to highlight the growing problem of plastic pollution.
“Paddleboarding the length of the country is a great way to show its natural beauty from an altogether different perspective – the water. Our canals are iconic pieces of history that provide a presence of calm and tranquillity in urban settings. They are easily accessible all over the country but they are currently under threat from plastic pollution and debris that, if we don’t address soon, will compromise the beauty and quality of our experiences along the canals.”
Lizzie's journey started today from the southernmost point of the connected network on the River Wey and over the course of three weeks she will paddle 650km up through Oxford, Coventry and Stoke-on-Trent before finally hitting the Ribble Link. Along the way she will pass 193 locks, navigate 8km of tunnels and traverse aqueducts nearly 8m above the ground.
Carrying 30kg of supplies on her paddleboard, including a tent for camping, she will map out the scale of plastic pollution with the help of Ordnance Survey, and highlight particular hotspots along the way that demand attention. She'll also be supporting two charities as part of the challenge, WaterTrek and WaterAid, and splitting all proceeds equally between them both.
Good luck Lizzie!