A CLIMATE conscious endurance swimmer has set out his mission to clear tonnes of plastic pollution from the River Tyne.

Fenwick Mark Ridley undertook a challenge of a lifetime last year as he swam upstream in the River Tyne and North Tyne, spanning seven days.

Chasing the tides and battling whatever crossed his path had long been an ambition of his, and swims in the river around Corbridge and Hexham over the past year have made him aware of the amount of waste in the water.

While encountering tonnes of plastic bags and bottles on a daily basis, the Corbridge resident has recently discovered a tractor tyre, a works barrier and a fridge.

“There have been a couple of things I have not been able to get out that have been embedded in the rocks,” Fenwick said.

“What I can get out I have been putting in my van and taking it to the waste disposal centre.

“The only thing I have got trouble with in the past is getting access to certain places,” he explained, “I have had some dangerous encounters with swampy and muddy areas.”

After repeatedly encountering a large fridge stuck in the water, Fenwick took it upon himself to remove it from the river.

“I thought the fridge could be good for training, but my most serious point was to get it out the river because it should never have been there,” he said.

“I had left it in a hidden place to then take it to the waste centre, but it was thrown it back in the water.”

Later this year, Fenwick will swim along the river from the waters meet point at Warden and along to the coast at Tynemouth where he will be highlighting the amount of rubbish along his journey.

Increasing the awareness of the rivers’ plastic pollution has seen Fenwick work with the Tyne Rivers Trust organisation.

Fenwick explained: “The trust does so much good work in looking after the river. I have had lots of people wanting to get involved and I am in the process of creating an organised group to help clean up the river.

“But it’s dangerous and it has to be done in a manner that is safe.”

For now, he continues to swim up and down the river, picking out any waste that shouldn’t be there.

“I am trying to be respectful and at the same time be helpful,” he said.

“The river has played a big part in my life and I feel I have a responsibility. I love helping clean the river and exploring it.”