Dorset litter-picker swimming entire Jurassic Coast for eco-charities

Dorset litter-picker swimming entire Jurassic Coast for eco-charities

Published by George Sharpe at 2:32pm 16th July 2020.

A 'litter-picking legend' is planning to swim the entire length of the Jurassic Coast to raise money for Clean Jurassic Coast.

Oly Rush plans to swim the 100-mile length in August after he spent his spare time cleaning up after litterers when lockdown restrictions eased. He takes part in weekly litter-picks on Dorset's beaches.

He expects to complete the swim in 10 days and will be accompanied by three friends supporting him on Kayaks.

Oly will leave from the Jurassic Coast's most western end in Exmouth, Devon, and will pass by Sidmouth and then into Dorset.

Litter picking swimmer Oly Rush

He will swim past the tourist towns of Lyme Regis and West Bay then along Chesil Beach. 

At Portland he will take on the famous 'Race', a deadly tide that has claimed many ships and sailors' lives over the years.

He will then swim through the Durdle Door arch, then on to Lulworth Cove, Kimmeridge and Swanage before finishing at the most eastern end of the coastline - Old Harry Rocks.

He said:

"I've been helping to clear up litter in Dorset for a long time, but I have never seen scenes of destruction like that before.

"There were two occasions after lockdown measures had been relaxed when the world and his wife seemed to descend on Dorset.

"Bournemouth and Durdle Door, in particular, were rammed because we had those spells of very warm weather.

"As soon as I saw the scenes on the news, I knew I had to get to Durdle Door and clear the inevitable mess these visitors would leave behind. Even I was shocked by what I saw.

"On this precious World Heritage site, there was litter strewn as far as the eye could see."

During the two-day heatwave at the end of June, BCP Council had to declare a major incident when 500,000 people visited its beaches in Bournemouth and Poole - and left behind more than 50 tonnes of waste.

Litter picking swimmer Oly Rush

In Durdle Door the car parks and nearby villages were overrun, and Dorset Council was forced to close the roads into these tiny Purbeck villages on two occasions. 

Volunteers marshalling the roadblocks were even spat at by people who had travelled from as far as the midlands for a day trip to the south coast.

The Lulworth Estate, which owns Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, is now operating a booking system on its car parks to avoid such overcrowding and chaos again.

Oly and other waste warriors at the end of long night clearing rubbish at first Durdle Door and then Bournemouth
Oly and other waste warriors at the end of long night clearing rubbish at first Durdle Door and then Bournemouth

Oly, a former competitive swimmer, said:

"I get why people want to come here. I love living here.

"All we ask is that visitors respect this beautiful coastline and take their rubbish home with them - it's not a big ask.

"There's only so much we, as volunteers, can clear away and so we really need to drive the message home to people about the harm plastic and litter left on our beaches does.

"I was privileged on a recent swim to be joined by a seal; it was such a wonderful moment, but I fear for the marine life with all the litter. 

"It is beautiful creatures like this that are being endangered by selfish, thoughtless and lazy humans.

"If my swim helps hammer that message home then every one of those 96 miles will be worth it."

To support Oly's Swim Jurassic mission go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/swimjurassic