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By Fiona Ross
The Argyll coast is playing host to an eco-adventurer with a mission to bring the ocean’s plight to the world stage.
Twenty-six-year-old Ben Taylor is currently kayaking and walking along the coastlines of Kintyre, Knapdale and Lorn as part of his round-Britain expedition.
He is collecting litter as he travels and documenting it in a blog and photographs that he plans to take to the UN COP26 conference in Glasgow later this year.
‘I had been volunteering for conservation charities and reading into climate change, but had come to feel hopeless about the sheer scale of the problem,’ Ben explains.
‘After thinking about it all for a few years I started looking in to what I could do and realised in December that one person can make a difference, particularly when combined with community efforts.’
Ben describes his environmental mission as a personal journey that he embarked on after a period of depression.
‘The idea came to me one evening when I was standing in the kitchen chopping vegetables.
‘I was listening to a song – Albatross by Fleetwood Mac – and suddenly I broke down in tears.
‘From there the idea took hold and I got in touch with the Marine Conservation Society and the John Muir Trust and told them that I wanted to fundraise for them and highlight their work while doing this trip.’
A website and an online fundraising page were next on Ben’s to-do list, followed soon after by a host of practicalities that he needed to work out.
Ben says: ‘I’ll be on the go around Scotland until COP26 in November and then continuing on to England.
‘I can’t carry much food as I’ve already got a tent, stove, inflatable kayak and paddles. I was really pleased to find a company that does dehydrated vegan food in compostable bags, so I bought 120 meals and have mailed them in batches to post offices around the country so I can collect them as I travel.’
As far as training for such an extraordinary expedition is concerned, Ben explained that he has participated in several endurance events, including multi-day running, in the past, but, now three weeks since he left his starting point of Glasgow he is enjoying this trip more than these previous competitions.
‘I’m loving this as it’s not all ‘Go, Go , Go’. I want to be able to sit back and take time and explore all the different parts of the coast. This trip has given me time to write, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.’
Ben’s blog can be read on his website where he has also written in detail about the threat plastic litter poses to marine life and the environment in general.
‘I wasn’t brought up by the sea; I’m from Manchester,’ Ben adds. ‘I worked at a youth hostel in Ullapool for a couple of years and felt a connection there.
‘When I’m picking up rubbish on beaches I feel really up and down about it all.
‘I feel so sad about what I find, and also about the amount that’s below the ocean’s surface. But then I realise I need to do what I can.’
On that note, Ben is keen to work together with locals who want to make a difference.
He is helping out at a beach clean in Oban this Friday, May 21. Information on this and how to donate to the John Muir Trust or the Marine Conservation Society can be found on Ben’s www.ukcoastjourney.com website.