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Transcript of the Documentary 

After watching the last year fly by with lockdown, I wanted an adventure with a purpose. The idea was to stand up paddleboard from source to Sea of the River Severn, the UK’s longest river, picking up plastic and document the journey.

During the lockdown. I studied the route and the trouble that plastic creates on the rivers but I wanted to see this firsthand.

I was setting off with Adventurer Emily Scott,

Emily and I had first spoken on the Modern Adventurer Podcast, and both had a burning desire to make this trip happen.

So as the lockdown was eased and in the early hours of a cool April morning, I left Wiltshire to start this incredible adventure. The first stop was to drive to Gloucester to catch the train, then onto Shrewsbury.

We were both really excited to finally get going. This was our first adventure since the start of the pandemic. We headed towards the source along the welsh hills, which was about an hours drive.

It was a gentle river stream when we arrived. We had to hike for 4 hours to the source, following the river up. It was a beautiful spring afternoon.

We reached the source in the late afternoon just as the sun was beginning to go down over the hills; we drank from the dark bog where the River Severn starts to make the beginning and then started our trip down the hill to start this incredible journey. There was a sense of excitement and anticipation about what we were about to start.

The late afternoon sun glistened through the pine forest, and after a four-hour hike, we were back in the van heading towards Welshpool, where we would start the paddleboarding. First, though, we needed to find a place to camp.

We woke from a chilly night and headed to the River

Scouting out starting points in Welshpool, we had to concede that the water was too low for our paddleboards and had to move further downriver.

On the Welsh English Border Outside the town of Crewe Green, we found the perfect launch pad to set off.

Although the frosty morning air was still present, the sun shined brightly from above, providing an ideal start to our paddleboarding adventure.

It took a while to get everything sorted, but after blowing up the boards and strapping at our kit for the week ahead, we were finally off.

With the water level so low, the pace of the river was dragging, and progress was slow. With over 200 kilometres to go Emily and I started to question whether we would make it in seven days with the slow progress

We picked up the rubbish in the river and tried to avoid shallow waters which were proving challenging

This would mean picking up the boards and walking to deeper waters.

We found an events field on the side of the river which wasn’t in use, it was quiet with only the humming distance tractors and bird song,

With the clear evening sky above, we knew we were in for another cold night,

Day 2
The morning frost greeted us again early the following day, I sat in my tent watching the river steam and the sun rise.

We waited for the sun to come up before packing away our things and getting ready for another big day.

Our plan was to get to Shrewsbury by lunchtime, where we would have to negotiate the weir, and the Shrewsbury rapids, which we were told can prove difficult on the paddleboard.

The tranqulity of the river and the loud chorus of birdsong was a joy as we paddled down the river and onto Shrewsbury.

But the hum of the nature that had been with us since the start was soon replaced by the city’s hustle,

A quick lunch in the town, and then we paddled the last few miles down to the weir.

We spent a few moments contemplating paddling over the weir, We had no choice but to take everything off and drag our boards out to carry them 50 metres downstream and back on the water.

Now we had the rapids coming, every turn as we meandered our way down the river, our sense of anticipation grew.

Ever white mini torrents we saw, we were thinking, is this it.

But after every mini rapid we encountered, there was a growing sense that maybe this wasn’t much to worry about. Out of Shrewsbury and into the farmlands, we again found a great wild camping spot to set us up for tomorrow

the following day we were up early with last nights frost still laying bare on the grass, the morning sun shone through the trees on the bank,

We set off to try and make up ground from the past few days. We put in the miles before lunch through the stunning Shropshire countryside.

We put in the miles and rested before onto towards Ironbrige

It is incredible that the second you underestimate the water, it has a habitat of teaching you a lesson.

In Ironbridge, just after passing under the bridge, we came across some rapids. Past experience in Shrewsbury said this was nothing,

so I didn’t bother attaching a few items to the board as I felt we would sail through but Going through the boards bounced left to right and just when I thought I was done, checking that everything was still in the order I hit a rock head-on and was thrown from my board.

The board wedged itself began to tip, fearful of some of the contents coming away from my board; while I lost a few items just before it tipped over, I managed to release the board and drift downriver with it before making my way to the bank.

We carried on before stopping for the night on the edge of a ploughed field, the evening sun was still high, and we managed to hang our clothes out to dry.

Emily prepared dinner and we chatted about tomorrow. There was a feeling that time was not on our side, and we weren’t going to be making the sea at the rate we were going.

Day 5
In the morning, we were away early, our usual breakfast in our tents and then packed everything away and headed down to start the day.

Our aim was to get to Stourport-on-Severn or just beyond it, but it would take a marathon of a day on the board.

The weather was glorious again; the gentle flow of the Severn and chorus of the birds made the paddling a joy.

The sound of the steam train provided us with a moment of rest bite as it roared past us. We took a moment to enjoy the billowing smoke as it moved past us.

We made good progress while picking up any plastic we could

Water was everywhere but getting enough drinking water had proved problematic for both Emily and me. In the town of Bewdley, we stocked up on water and noodles, making sure we wouldn’t run out for the remainder of the expedition.

Then we went in search for a camping spot but found ourselves at a lock instead

It was 8.30 by the time we found a camping spot, and we managed with the last flicker of light to set up before the night descended on us.

After the marathon yesterday and 10 hours paddling, we were slow to get away; the morning frost had kept us tucked away in our sleeping bags till the sun had risen. The previous evening we had come to our first lock and had to take everything off and walk to the other side; we repeated the process in the morning only to find Paddleboards are allowed through. We signed up for the Canal and rivers authority to ensure we didn’t have the time-consuming hassle of taking everything off our boards again.
Once again, we had another glorious day to paddle down the river. We picked at the plastic and rubbish on the trees, but there was only so much we could collect with the vast amount.
We stopped just before Worchester for lunch in a beautiful spot. Although the sun was shining, there was still a spring chill in the air.
Now we had the excitement of going through a lock on the paddleboard, we gave over our number and began descending down, although only a few metres. It was a welcome change from the previous day’s rapids, and with the continuous locks, we knew the rapids were now behind us.
Worchester was awash with life from swans, seagulls and ducks to the rowers outside the cathedral. We ducked between rowers and avoided the chaos of the animal feeding before continuing on to the end of the city and onto another lock.
The continuous locks had slowed progress, but we knew we were close to Gloucester and the tidal part of the Severn.
We settled in for the night, watching the sun go down over a delicious supper. We knew tomorrow was going to be a long day, but as we retreated into our tents, would we make the sea by Wednesday and be able to see the Severn bore for the full moon?
The morning sunrise had disappeared, but after packing up everything and paddling down towards Gloucester, we saw some fantastic wildlife, from Herring’s to Duckling, Kingfishers to Otters. The river was overflowing with wildlife, and in the countryside, the sound of the birds was deafening at times.
We had to make up time, so we decided to make lunch on our boards, we put our boards together, and one would steer while the other cooked up their lunch. We gained a few miles while doing this, and it proved vital as when we arrived at Gloucester dock, it was 20 minutes before it was closing.
We had to move into the Canal to avoid the weir. It was evening, and after a long day, more than 11 hours without getting off the boards,

we picked up some water and food for the night just off the Canal.
In Urban areas, wild camping is a lot harder, and with a pathway along the whole Canal, this was going to be difficult. Still, by some miracle, the path was closed off for a section, so once we were away from eyes, we hopped off the boards and found an enclosure hidden away. It was perfect. We headed over for the late-night bore to finally watch these phenomena happen; although dark, we got a sense of the power of this tidal wave.
Day 8
We had pushed hard the previous day and waking up with the sound of rain smashing against the tent, the motivation to get up was low, but we got back on and headed south towards the sea, we knew we were close, but with the rain pouring down on us and wind picking up the closer we got, the harder it felt.
We were tucking under bridges to save time towards Sharpness, and when we arrived, it was very underwhelming; the rain and soaked clothes had at the time made it a happy end, but in the rush of finishing and the waiting taxi to take us back up to Gloucester. We didn’t have time to really look around and take in what we had achieved.