A kayaking team of women picked up 629 pieces of plastic on the first leg of their 300km UK coast to coast challenge to help the environment and raise awareness about ocean pollution.

Bex Band, Erin Bastian and Clare Osborn are part of an 18-strong team who are paddling for 17-days from Bristol through Twickenham to the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge picking up plastic along the route which contaminates the waters.

The cost to coast team will try to take on an average of 20km a day totalling 151 locks whilst collecting plastic rubbish from the waterways, gathering research and raising awareness about the problem of plastic pollution with people they meet.

Ms Band said: "I put together the Paddle Pickup expedition to try and do something about the growing problem of plastic in our oceans.

“My aim was to link our actions as individuals and our waterways to the rubbish that we know is floating around in the sea.

“It feels great to actually be doing something about the problem and I hope that we can make people think about the single-use plastic that they ware each day and maybe look at more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Five days into the challenge after the first leg the team have ‘picked up’ as much as they could including 278 bottles, 73 food wrappers, 39 toys, 33 polystyrene items, 24 straws, 20 cups, 18 industrial items, 11 balloons, 10 plastic bags and six right foot shoes.

Ms Band added: “We've had a tough few days with dozens of locks to portage, lots of rain and waves of litter to collect.

“Despite our achy arms, the team are still smiling and staying positive."

Following the expedition in 2018 the team will take the data they gathered to schools and events to highlight how actions and waterways are acting as a funnel for marine debris.

Each year there are 8 million tons of plastic dumped in seas every year with 80% of ocean pollution comes from land-based activities.

Ms Osborn said: “As a volunteer I have been on the organising committee of Incredible Oceans and WhaleFest since 2015 and in my role as campaign manager I have created strong commercial partnerships to bring to life the serious issue of ocean plastics, through social media and at large-scale public events.

“We have found so many bags, bottles, cups and straws so I really feel like we can make a huge difference by telling everyone about this problem.

“With the plastic we gather Incredible Oceans are fundraising to make an installation to have huge public impact and go out to various events.”