Monday 4 August 2014

North Wales is beautiful - let's keep it that way.

So, in the midst of the big write up, I'm allowed to have some fun, right?! Last week I took some time out to visit my 'home country' of North Wales - and boy, do I miss it.

Growing up on a staple of Snowdon and the surrounds, I was surprised to find I have never climbed Tryfan, a rocky mountain in the in the Ogwen Valley of Snowdonia. The breathtaking views were worth the rocky, scrambling ascent of the North Ridge and we were only second to the peak thanks to being early birds. I was told that at the top there are two famous rocks; Adam and Eve, and it is tradition to jump between the two once the peak is reached. Safe to say that I did it... just (the sheer drop on the left side is rather off-putting). Following this we decided to cool off with a swim in the nearby Llyn Padarn (Padarn lake), in Llanberis. It was here that I first started to take note of the litter.

Adam to Eve - a tradition apparently 
Litter? What? I need to backtrack. The week before my mini-holiday, I was sent a link to a news article about lego being washed up on beaches up to 17 years since it was lost at sea in a container - it just serves to highlight the fact that plastic discards are there for a very long time, and not just plastic - any sort of litter that is lost at sea, or dumped on a beach. It was a video that accompanied the article that I found the most interesting, about a man, Martin Dorey of Bude, Cornwall who has started a project called the two minute beach clean. I say project - it has become somewhat of a revolution. Forget #nomakeupselfie, forget #necknominate - all the cool kids are hashtagging #2minutebeachclean! If you're wondering what on earth I am talking about - take a look at the short video here.

A seasoned explorer on Malltraeth Marsh 
That night we camped on Malltraeth marsh near Abermenai Point and as usual picking up any plastics and litter we found along the way.. but it was only the next day whilst snorkelling in Church bay near Aberffraw that it started to become real - not only on the beaches, but at the bottom of the sea; abandoned lobster pots (or parts of them), fishing line, rope - it's very sad really. We saw some rather large dogfish (I guess I should call them catsharks now...), who I'm sure don't appreciate the rubbish! One beach loving animal who I am sure would get ill from trying to eat stuff like that is the greedy seagull who stole my ice cream in Beaumaris.. but that is a different story altogether. 

The following day we explored Porth Wen brick works, an abandoned site near Amlwch which overlooks a beautiful bay and is only accessible by a very brambly path, but the views and hidden beach are totally worth it. We did try some snorkelling but the vis was too bad, and considering the 'hidden and abandoned' nature of the area, we still managed to find some abandoned rubbish - beer bottles, plastic bags... you get the picture. I think the only place we didn't find any of this stuff was during our visit to Aber falls in Abergwyngregyn.
Porth Wen brickworks
Freezing, but happy at Aber falls!
Next time you're at the beach, or if you are lucky enough to live near the sea - I would encourage you all to try your own #2minutebeachclean and help spread the word on twitter, facebook or instagram - it only takes 2 minutes and imagine how much we could get done if everyone in the world gave it a try. I for one, will be encouraging students to do this next time we hold a beach practical. Dream big!