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Environmentalist finds beauty, great people and millions of pieces of plastic on 7000 mile coastal adventure

© Andrew CawleyBen Taylor has been stopping regularly to clean beaches, such as on Loch Melfort near Oban
Ben Taylor has been stopping regularly to clean beaches, such as on Loch Melfort near Oban

Windswept beaches, spectacular cliffs – and millions of plastic pellets. These are the sights, inspiring and shocking, confronting Ben Taylor on his epic trip on foot around Britain’s coastline.

The intrepid 26-year-old, from Manchester, set out on a mammoth 7,000-mile journey around the mainland seven weeks ago.

Ben, while walking, swimming and paddling round the coast, has been cleaning beaches and conducting environmental surveys in an effort to raise awareness of climate change.

© Andrew Cawley
Ben in his inflatable kayak

“It’s been incredible to encounter the beautiful things I’ve seen, but also the trash,” he explained. “As well as the landscape there’s the not so nice things that are now part of the coast. There are things called nurdles, around the size of a lentil. They’re basically the building blocks of pretty much anything that’s made of plastic.

“You can come across a lovely stretch of sand but look closer and it’s covered with plastic.”

© Andrew Cawley
Ben Taylor

Taylor, a former mountain guide, is missing some creature comforts but is buoyed by the people he has met.

“I’ve reached Fort William, which is about 600 miles and a bit of a milestone for me. I was thinking about what would this journey have been like if I hadn’t met anyone along the way.

“One of the main parts of the journey is just meeting people. Despite lockdown restrictions still being in place, there have been so many wonderful people who have chatted to me or bought me a drink or put me up for the night. That’s been wonderful, and it’s kept me going.”