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Ex-paratrooper on five-year coastal walking mission reaches islands

Ex-paratrooper on five-year coastal walking mission reaches islands

Wednesday 04 January 2023

Ex-paratrooper on five-year coastal walking mission reaches islands

Wednesday 04 January 2023


A former paratrooper who is walking the entire UK coastline for an Armed Forces charity is in the Channel Islands this week as he enters the final stretch of his five-year journey.

Originally from Gowan in South Wales, Chris Lewis began his walk around the UK coastline in 2017 with the aim of raising £100,000 for the SSAFA, a UK charity that provides lifelong support to serving men and women and veterans from the British Armed Forces.

After leaving the Army in 2004, Chris found it difficult to re-adjust to civilian life.

He said: "I pretty much came straight from the army to being a single father. I went through a bit of a downward spiral, with anxiety and depression." 

During this self-described spiral, Chris received help and assistance from the SSAFA after a friend contacted them on his behalf.

Within days, he received a knock on his  door from the charity and from then on "they were absolutely relentless in their efforts to help me, it was amazing."

Watch: Chris giving a New Year update.

However, despite all the help, Chris still felt like he "had to do something drastic" in order to set his life right - for him, the answer lay in the great outdoors.

One day, whilst perched on top of a cliff watching a group of windsurfers, Chris had a revelation.

"The outside has always been my home... Something just said to me, 'Walk the UK coast'," he recalled. "Immediately I felt excited, it just felt so right... I hadn't felt like that in a long time."

Just like that, he decided he would set off on his round-trip, with the aim of raising £100,000 for charity. He has so far raised more than double that figure, with his JustGiving page reaching nearly £276,435.

Chris_Lewis_and_Jet.jpeg

Pictured: Chris Lewis and Jet, who he rescued whilst walking the UK coastline. (Chris Walks the UK)

Since 1 August 2017, Chris has been walking consistently, relying entirely on donations from the public.

Starting off in Swansea, he worked his way up to Scotland and spent lockdown camped out on an uninhabited island in the Hebrides, foraging for fuel and fishing for food.

He said: "By that time I'd been living outside for so long I was used to it really...I think like to put myself in situations where you have no choice, where you have to find a way."

He has since rescued his dog, Jet, met his fiancé, Kate, and even had a child, Magnus, who is now one, all whilst continuing to trek across the coast, with his new ensemble accompanying him all the way.

In 2020, he received a 'Point of Light' from 10 Downing Street - an award recognising "outstanding individual volunteers making a difference in their community" - and received a personal letter from then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

Chris_Lewis_cooking.jpeg

Pictured: Chris Lewis has been walking continuously around the UK coastline since 2017. (Chris Walks the UK)

Now, Chris is coming to the Channel Islands. He'll first be heading to Guernsey, before making his way over to Jersey at the end of this week.

Chris said: "Islands have been a really important part of my trip so far. It's going to be my first time visiting the Channel Islands and I'm ashamed to say I know absolutely nothing about the place. We just want to see and meet as many people as we can while we are over there. We can't wait."

Upon completion, he will be heading back to the UK mainland for the trek back to Swansea.

Chris thinks he is in the final stretch, estimating it will take him another five months before he is back where he started.

You can donate to Chris's JustGiving page HERE.

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