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Plenty of protestors crossed many miles to reach Bangor’s Climate Strike March yesterday. However, only two of those travellers elected to do so under their own power, in a canoe.

Luke McNair and Deio Collwyn Williams set off from their homes on the Llŷn peninsula at 6am, in a canoe that would later sit proudly beside that day’s demonstrations in Bangor. From Porthdinllaen to Y Felinheli, the friends paddled over 25 miles (40km) that morning in the name of environmentally-friendly travel. Though smaller scale, the journey mirrored that of Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who founded the School Strikes for Climate movement, and who crossed the Atlantic in an entirely carbon-neutral yacht. McNair is a canoeing enthusiast, and spoke to Seren about the experience:

“Basically, we wanted to come to this event and thought, well, it would be best to try and do it in the most eco-friendly manner that we could, and to me that is getting in the canoe, or one of my canoes, and paddling here. We both live on the Llŷn peninsula so the place that is nearest both our houses is Porthdinllaen. So we set off from there at six in the morning. I’ve had about, I don’t know, half an hour of sleep- a bit of insomnia from thinking about the trip.

“We set off at six in the morning in the dark, paddled along the coast until the tide changed, and then we reached Trefor and then set out straight to Abermenai Point, the entrance to the Menai Strait. That must have been about two/two and half miles from shore so that was quite nice, we enjoyed that, and had help from the tide. Got to Abermenai Point on time, to the dot- it was eleven on the dot- and then cruised down the strait with the help of the tides. We were going to try to go to Bangor Pier but it wasn’t working with the tides at the time, so we stopped at Y Felinheli. My mum picked us up, got the canoe on, and came here- and unexpectedly, we went and talked into a microphone.”

What got you involved in this movement?

“I think, when you’re a canoeist and you’re out, you do see it- I collect a lot of beach plastic in this thing. I must have got at least a skip-full, mainly plastic bottles- the amount of those is horrendous. It was a just a natural thing. Obviously you hear about it in the media. Greta Thunberg too: I’m autistic as well, so what she’s doing, with the challenges that she faces, is hugely inspiring to me, so she’s galvanised me.”

[McNair pats his canoe]

“It’s not quite as good as that yacht she crossed the Atlantic in, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper, so that’s something! That was part of it and it’s this big worldwide thing September the 20th– it is the 20th isn’t it- yeah. And I just thought, right, well we’re going to do it in style. And I roped Deio into it and he’s not going to talk, but he was brilliant- he’s hardly done any canoeing and he’s a complete natural at it.”

Who do you think is the most important audience for this protest today?

“Everyone, but I suppose people that aren’t already aware of it, are denying it- they’re the most important audience. And young people, because they’re the ones that are going to have to deal with it aren’t they, in the future, deal with the consequences. But pretty much anyone that will listen, and preferably, the people that don’t listen but will hopefully change their minds.”

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Sinclair Davis

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