Ben in Oban on plastic mission

Beach boy: Ben Taylor in Oban.

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With his ripped trail shoes, heavy sun tan and bleached whiskers, Ben Taylor cuts a worldly figure in Oban.

Loaded down by an enormous backpack containing a one-man tent, inflatable kayak and two paddles, the difference is this 26-year-old is not here for any holiday.

He is in town as part of a mission to walk and paddle the entire coast of Scotland in a journey estimated at around 7,000 miles.

Beach boy: Ben Taylor in Oban.

Ben is cleaning-up beaches to raise money for the Marine Conservation Society, which campaigns for cleaner oceans, and surveying seaweed for conservation charity the John Muir Trust.

Paddling, walking and sleeping under the stars, it started by following the Clyde all the way out of Glasgow. He has walked lochs and called in at Dunoon, Tarbert, Kintyre and Knapdale on the way.

Ben said: ‘Climate change as a whole is something that really concerns me and this is a process of learning for me as well as giving back. We need to clean up the beaches and we need to stop using so much plastic. Once you do a beach clean you start to realise when you are buying excess plastic.’

A plastic scarred loch Ben saw on his travels.

In advance, he sent out dehydrated food parcels for pick-up and touched base with groups involved in litter picks. He has found everything from traffic cones to dolls legs.

The challenge is also part of his recovery from depression and Ben freely admits that the enormity of it sometimes weighs heavily.

Ben said: ‘The first couple of weeks it was like ‘what am I doing?’ and I was just feeling  that the whole thing was pointless. I came to the conclusion that I would be feeling like that anyway if I was at home or working in a job because life is like that, and you have your ups and your downs.’

Ben Taylor meets with Kerry MacKay of the GRAB Trust.

In Oban, he met with Kerry MacKay, who works for the GRAB Trust, a recycling charity in Argyll and Bute which supports clean beaches.

She said: ‘What he is doing is incredible and it’s a great way to spread the word, raise publicity and do something that is self-fulfilling and a benefit to the world.’

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