Canoeists get to grips with litter on canal

Mark Birkett and Paul Britton with the final haul.
Mark Birkett and Paul Britton with the final haul.

Canoeists took matters into their own hands to help clear up the canal they use.

Lancaster and District Canoe Club members carried out a litter pick along Lancaster Canal after member Mark Lange spotted the litter collecting under one of the canal banks.

Mark said: “I thought I could access the resources to clear it up, being a member of the canoe club.

“We just started the summer season a couple of weeks ago with a lot of new paddlers, so they were busy in coaching groups, as were all the coaches of course.

“That left a few of the longer-standing members available at a club meet, so we had six altogether: Paul Britton, Alex Neal, Alan Chamberlain, Mark Birkett, Stephen Blackwell and myself.

“Beaumont Street Chippy generously agreed to donate some food for the workers, which we enjoyed as a floating picnic whilst paddling from the club hut up to the aqueduct – carefully collecting the wrapping paper of course!

“Once you start looking there is a lot of litter, both small pieces floating in the water and big and small stuck in the bushes, which can sometimes be hard to get out so takes some time.

“We had two teams with an open canoe with the bin bags, and kayaks as they get better access to the rubbish, and soon had a few bags full.

“After an hour collecting, with a large pile of rubbish, we had really only made a start on the two worst bits, the basin and corners at each end of the aqueducts where the wind tends to blow it all, but had to call it quits for now.

“Some were keen to have another go sometime and try to finish the job.”

The rubbish was dropped off at the Canal & River Trust compound near the river, before the team paddled back to base.

David Hennessey, Lune Aqueduct project officer with the Canal & River Trust, supplied the team with litter pickers, bags and gloves, and dealt with the rubbish.

He said: “It is fantastic that Lancaster and District Canoe Club has helped us out in this way.

“We work with many volunteers on our waterways and following the major restoration of the Lune Aqueduct in 2012, we are really keen to keep the site looking its best.

“The canoe club did a great job of clearing all of the litter from a point on the canal that is difficult to access, using their paddling skills to great effect.”