A man collected over 40kg of dog poo as he trekked along a popular walking trail for charity. 

Henry Rawlings, from Storrington, collected hundreds of poos as he walked the Serpent Trail, a 65-mile route in the South Downs National Park.

The four-day charity walk was over the heathland route from Haslemere to Petersfield via Midhurst and Petworth.

Henry walked in memory of his beloved Beagle-cross Alfie, but on the way he noticed large amounts of dog poo left along the route.

The Argus: Henry's dog AlfieHenry's dog Alfie (Image: SDNPA)

The 46-year-old urged dog walkers to bag and bin poo because of the harm canine faeces can do to heaths.

Heathlands make up just one per cent of the South Downs National Park and are one of the scarcest habitats in the world, providing a home for rare animals like sand lizards, smooth snakes, silver-studded blue butterflies and Dartford Warblers.

Henry said: “I couldn't help but notice the amount of dog poo that had been left, so I decided to tidy those areas up. I thought collecting the dog poo would make the fundraiser a bit more of a challenge, as well as help protect the habitat.

“I lost count of the number of poos I scooped up but it was well over 40kg in total.

“I think not picking up dog poo is disrespectful to other people and the countryside. Not only is there the hygiene element, there are also health risks for humans and creatures alike. It's not difficult to pick and bag, and even take home if there is no bin available.”

The Argus: Henry Rawlings, 46, collected over 40kg of dog poo on his trekHenry Rawlings, 46, collected over 40kg of dog poo on his trek (Image: South Downs National Park Authority)

So far, the walk has raised over £3,000 that will now be split between two dog charities, Canine Arthritis and Vetlife.

Henry said: “Alfie enjoyed several parts of the Serpent Trail. I had planned to do the whole of it with him in 2020 over several weekends but Covid got in the way. When he passed away, I decided to do the trail in his memory and raise money for organisations that were close to both of us.

“Aside from a shower on the Friday afternoon I got lucky with the weather. The main high point was meeting people on the trail, giving dog owners treats in Alfie's name and raising awareness of the two organisations.”

The Argus: Olivia French and Henry Rawlings on the trailOlivia French and Henry Rawlings on the trail (Image: South Downs National Park Authority)

Olivia French, engagement officer for Heathlands Reunited which is working to conserve and enhance the habitat, explained why dog poo is so bad for heathlands.

“Heathlands are an incredibly specialist habitat that have developed over thousands of years and are rarer than the rainforest,” said Olivia.

“Dog poo, in particular, contains bacteria that can be extremely harmful to livestock which graze areas along the Serpent Trail.

"If there’s no bin, the message is simple, bag it and take it home with you or dispose of it in the nearest public waste bin.

"As part of Heathlands Reunited, we want to help educate dog walkers that they can play their part in nature recovery by doing a very simple thing such as picking up dog poo."