Intrepid Seaton kayaker Roy Beal will set off on a mission next month to raise awareness of the impact of plastic on our waterways and oceans and promote outdoor and water sports safety.
He will be supporting environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean – encouraging hundreds of thousands of people to take part in the country’s biggest environmental action campaign and do a million miles of litter-picking between them, as well as Plan B Charity, who promote and advocate outdoor pursuit safety with Ocean Signal.
Setting off from John O’Groats on May 26, Roy will kayak the east coast of Scotland to Inverness, braving whatever the North Sea will throw at him. He will then paddle along the Caledonian Canal, crossing the cold deep waters of Loch Ness, emerging on the west coast at Fort William.
From there it will be through the Crinan Canal, followed by the fast tidal flows of the Irish Sea to Liverpool, before entering the inland waterways on the River Dee. Following the canal networks and its many locks to Sharpness, Roy will then join the River Severn, Britain’s longest river and largest tidal range, onto the Bristol Channel which is well known for its hazardous tide flows and currents.
The final leg will be the rugged north coast of the South West to Land’s End and, after living in a tent for the majority of this 900-mile journey, a proper bed.
Roy, 49, who kayaked as a child, said: “I’ve done a number of marathon sea kayaking trips since I took up the sport again in 2013. I decided I wanted to do something that brought together my love of the sport with my passion for cleaning beaches and removing the plastic pollution that is having such a huge effect on the condition of our oceans.”
Roy works for Keep Britain Tidy’s Ocean Recovery Project in the South West, collecting hard plastics found in the marine environment and getting them recycled to give them a new life as things like picnic benches and fence posts. He is also the founder of Clean Jurassic Coast and works with volunteers to clear litter from the 96-mile stretch of coastline that runs from Exmouth to Studland in Dorset and is England’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage.
He added: “I have seen first-hand the damage that litter is doing to our natural environment so I wanted to do something to help get the message out to everyone. Education and inspiration is the only way to stop thoughtless littering. It doesn’t matter if someone drops a cigarette end, leaves their discarded fishing line or fly-tips an entire truckload, these selfish acts are destroying our environment and putting wildlife and marine life in danger on a daily basis.
“But it doesn’t have to be like that. Instead of being part of the problem, we can all be part of the solution by doing the right thing with our rubbish, by supporting the Great British Spring Clean and pledging to pick up some litter. Every piece that’s taken out of the environment is one piece less adding to the plastic pollution.”
Roy will also promote outdoor pursuit safety with Ocean Signal, a leading manufacturer of marine safety equipment, and Plan B Charity. Plan B was set up by the family of Dom Jackson, a kayaker who was lost at sea in 2017. Dom’s only means of communication was a mobile phone stored in the rear hatch of his kayak and he was unable to access it when the weather changed and he got into difficulties. Plan B, along with Ocean Signal, promote and educate the importance of carrying a means
to call for help whilst outdoors.
Roy said: “It is so easy to buy a kayak or a paddle board and then venture onto the sea without any training or thought to potential disaster, the same goes for moorland or mountain hikes. People often dress for the current air temperature and it doesn’t take much for conditions to change and for a person to find themselves in trouble. Mobile phones don’t work well in the middle of nowhere and wet screens tend not to work very well either. One can have all the safety equipment on the market but having a means to call for help is perhaps the most important.”
You can follow Roy on social media at @top.down.kayak.challenge on Instagram or Kayaking For Charity on Facebook. For more information or to make a donation, please visit
Supported by PB Adventures, the South West’s leading sea kayaking, hill skills, navigational and expedition specialists.