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  • Writer's pictureLuke Douglas-Home

Stretch 8 (S8): the Simpsons, Tideline Plastic and the Wash

During the #TheCoastlineRunner initiative I don’t listen to music as I run, I listen to our environment instead, but in my head was 'Strange Cargo Hinterland' (by William Orbit) and I recommend you click here, start listening and then read on.

This part of the Fens was so evocative of this music (or is it vice versa?!) that I thought about it often, when not listening to the spring birdsong..

a) Short thought and 10 points: tell me, is running 30km, collecting plastic rubbish from the UK’s tideline “acting in a bold way” as Earth Day suggest for 2022 (here)?

1. Start: Wyndham House (a care home in North


2. Finish: Sutton Bridge

3. Distance: 30 km (+ 4 km hitchhike at the end to catch the

local bus)

4. #TheCoastlineRunner initiative total distance: 180 km

5. How arrived: Train to Kings Lynn station and then local bus

to North Wootton

6. How departed: as above, from Sutton Bridge

7. S8 CO2e emitted: total CO2e emitted for this #TheCoastlineRunner endeavour is estimated at 180 kgs of CO2e.

8. Plastic rubbish/trash observation: North Wootton was amazingly free of rubbish. However, there was plenty of tideline plastic on the edge of the Great Ouse and River Nene. Cigarette ends on the path into the Wash, dog faeces bags on the west side of the Ouse, but none on the east. Remember, I collect them now, too, so they went in Kings Lynn’s public bins. Once again, we collected a lot of plastic rubbish from the Crown Estate. They are the primary landlords of this area of land.

9. Marine litter: some netting, ropes and polystyrene containers

Consumer litter: balloons, sweet wrappers, 4 dog poo bags

10. Shoreline plastics litter collected: by S8 30 kgs collected and correctly disposed of (we will investigate the truth of Kings Lynn’s (non-recycled) waste system.

Short thought: why is the east side of river The Great Ouse free of littered dog poo bags, when the East side is awash with them?! Even though they have this by the river Nene?

b) Short report:

Two rookeries: at start and finish – how joyous is that?!

While waiting, I admired the rookery at award-winning care home Wyndham House, and pondered ….. do we know how rooks decide upon where to establish rookeries? It was once believed that they only built their rookeries near houses where the inhabitants were of a kind and generous disposition (here) – that would be the case for these residents, including Anne and Maud. “The rooks are very cheeky” said Maud and she then admired my Ukrainian Flag running colours!

Then I ran 30km from the care home, around the fens. Getting to the Great Ouse, enjoying the plentiful butterflies – there are many on the edges around the Fens – I encountered the tideline plastic on the bank of the tidal river – cigarette lighters, polystyrene boxes and marine plastic.

Then I passed the trawlers’ base, shellfish factories and into Kings Lynn, where I deposited the first bag of plastic waste – all deposited in the first available bin when hitting Kings Lynn.

“Put it all in the recycling bin!” said the Kings Lynn resident, helping me. Many different polymers and sizes, many different contaminations….. we don’t think so, and didn’t.

Action point: we will confirm whether this is the correct behaviour for this local authority.

Across the Great Ouse – by Kings Lynn ferry with Ben and Brian (below)

to Lincolnshire and across the River Nene – by the bridge at Sutton Bridge.

Pain-wise this was the most difficult stretch of all, so far.

But visually? It was running the edge of THE biggest national nature reserve in the UK (here) -amazing! - and when things got especially tough with foot pain, I said to myself like a mantra “I will not be a “cheese-eating surrender monkey” and it worked. I caught the last local bus of the day– The Simpsons helped me collect tideline plastic from The Wash!

I saw two rookeries on this stretch, at the start and at the end; at Sutton Bridge. To the north I am now touching Lincolnshire, but Norfolk isn't quite complete.......

Reminder, the Coastline Runner initiative:

1. Starts with a conversation about plastic and our environment, a 2 minute beach clean ( #2minutebeachclean ) before running, and leaves the ‘One Bag Zero Waste’ bag (#1BzW) to enable more collection and disposal of plastics afterwards, as Maud is photographed here.

2. Collect at least a kilogram of plastic from the shoreline for every kilometre ran (dog poo bags included).

3. Travel by public transport as much as possible (#improvepublictransport)

I now have to deal with the foot pain before completing Norfolk, in Stretch 9 - Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft.

c) End note: now William Orbit has finished, you might want to listen to BBC Radio 4's 'Open Country' (Sat 23rd April) here about The Wash and the organic, good relationship between the shellfish industry, conservation needs and the environment in this amazing part of the world.

Follow The Coastline Runner initiative here “#thecoastlinerunner” and Instagram here.

To sponsor the initiative click here, a JustGiving platform link

Previous known traditional media reporting so far:


  1. EDP by chief reporter Chris Bishop.

  2. 09:05 BBC Interview Radio Norfolk, with Kirsteen Thorne @kethorne1 here - BBC Radio Norfolk Interview (From 03:10:49 to 03:19:23)

  3. Lynn News (coastline-runner-starts-next-stage)

  4. Lynn News (a-shore-thing-for-the-coast-runner)

November 2021

BBC Radio Norfolk, 16:20 Stephen Bumfrey

"coastline running sounds epic!" says Emily Maitlis (BBC)

29th Nov - 17:45 interview BBC Norfolk


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