AN ECO adventurer has finished paddling down the River Thames from Lechlade to near London on a homemade water bike, collecting plastic bottles.

Dhruv Boruah, 35, a former corporate management consultant, spent nine days on the water, navigating everything from narrow boats to swans, while collecting plenty of litter, including a packet of chicken breasts.

The bamboo-framed bike was made by Dhruv himself with the help of the Bamboo Bicycle Club in London, before he customised it with inflatables and baskets.

“I have met so many people and have been collecting so much litter,” he said. “People have been so curious on the canals, asking why am I doing this?

“The reason is I want people to think twice before buying plastic bottles.”

Dhruv, originally from India and now living in London, started his expedition last Monday (September 18) from the Trout Inn at Lechlade and said his first day “was the hardest”.

“I was just getting to know the bike. How to control it on the water,” he said.

He travelled around five miles that day before mooring up at the Ye Old Swan in Bampton, when disaster struck – one of the floats detached and the bike went under.

“I could see it going. For a split second, I thought it was over. The whole project, on the first day.

“I was looking around for people to help me, but there was no-one around, it was late and pouring with rain. I had to just dig in deep and get into the water.

“Somehow I managed to pull the bike out, but I got really wet.”

Each day, Dhruv would collect at least two basketfuls of discarded plastic, which he would then give to lock-keepers to dispose of.

He had originally intended to camp under a tarpaulin but decided to leave it at Lechlade due to the extra weight, and simply “camp wild” using his sleeping bag.

But Dhruv found the generosity of those on the river overwhelming, with many lockkeepers lending him their own tarps and tents, while narrow boaters would “always be offering me coffee and chocolate”.

“The whole view along the way, the scenery was amazing, right from Lechlade. It was so rural,” he said.

“People don’t experience enough unless they take the time to explore on the river, there are so many beautiful islands and all these little communities.”

But, he said: “There is a lot plastic on the river. You have these amazing views and then you have a plastic bottle spoiling it.”

Dhruv made it as far as Teddington lock on the water bike, before switching to a paddle board for the tidal section of the river on the advice of Port of London Authority, before reaching Kew Bridge.

He had two opportunities for a safety vessel to escort him to Big Ben, but due to being behind schedule, he missed them both.

Dhruv now plans to modify his water bike with multiple chambered inflatables to allow him to travel all the way from Lechlade to Gravesend: source to sea.

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