AN ex-paratrooper who has raised more than £350,000 for charity has today completed an epic six-year walk around Britain’s coastline.
Welshman Chris Lewis set off alone from Llangennith beach in 2017. He returned to the exact same spot on the Gower peninsula this afternoon with a fiancee, a baby boy and a dog called Jet.
Armed with supplies for a few days, £10 in his wallet, and a sudden desire to just walk the coast of the UK, the former soldier began his fund-raising hike on August 1 2017, before returning to the exact spot where impulse struck him almost six years to the day.
The 43-year-old from Swansea adopted Jet not long into the 19,000-mile hike, and the pair were welcomed by people along the route who were gripped by his adventures after following him on Facebook.
His current total amount raised for the Soldiers’, Sailors’ & Airmen’s Families Association (SSAFA) stands at an incredible £366,100. Although it has more than tripled his original target of £100,000, the adventurer is hoping to eventually reach £500,000.
Chris walks the UK: An emotional finish
With a beaming smile, Chris reached the finish line with Jet to the sound of rapturous applause and cheers, and joined by Kate Barron, whom he met halfway round his walk and eventually proposed to. Kate accompanied her future husband on the remainder of the journey, pausing briefly when baby Magnus was welcomed to the world in May last year.
An emotional Chris took to Facebook yesterday as he embraced the view of the finish line with his family, including his daughter Caitlin, who he dedicated much of his life to raising as a single parent.
“So yesterday we sat in exactly the same spot where I stood six years ago when a voice came in to my head and said… ‘walk the UK coastline!’,” he wrote.
“The beautiful Rhossilli looking down the cliffs towards Llangenith.
“It was an unbelievable and momentous moment for me to say the least!!
“The man you see in this picture is a completely different man to the guy who stood here six years ago!.
“As I’ve said before!! The flame inside me back then was so dim it hardly had any life left in it!! And now she burns stronger and brighter than ever before.
“I sat and thought of my daughter Caitlin, and how incredibly proud I am of her! I sat and looked at Kate, Jet and Magnus and smiled with total pride at them all on what they also have achieved.
“And inside my head came a soft and content voice telling me, ‘You done it Chris! You only bloody done it!!!’.
“One mile left tomorrow and this adventure is over.
“What an incredible adventure it has been .”
To support ‘Chris Walks the UK’ and donate to SSAFA, here is the fund-raising page… JustGiving: Chris Walks UK Coastline.
READ MORE: The UK’s top 10 favourite walking routes
Prior to heading off on his epic journey, the former 2 Para soldier had been suffering with anxiety and depression after struggling to settle into life as a civilian. He had also been facing the prospect of being homeless in the months before the walk.
If you are a former member of the armed forces and facing difficulties with mental health or finances, you can find help by contacting any of these organisations…